Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Abbeville Institute is holding its 7th Annual Abbeville Institute Summer School. The official announcement:

St. Christopher Conference Center, Seabrook Island, South Carolina

Up to the late 1960s, historians tended to view "Reconstruction" (1865-1877) as a dark and tragic era. A defeated region, having undergone scorched earth war, was humiliated, punished, and plundered under military rule and by a Congress that showed contempt for Constitutional restraints. After the 1960s, however, a new historiography appeared, inspired by Marxist style analysis. In this view "Reconstruction" was the high point in America's revolutionary goal of building an egalitarian society. But it failed because of Northern lack of will and Southern violence. Reconstruction was not a tragic era but an egalitarian revolution that did not go far enough.

Though it has become the mainline view, the new historiography has not refuted the older one; it simply dismisses it. The goal of the summer school is to recover what is true in the older historiography as well as to introduce new topics for research and writing.

Clyde Wilson, "Reconstruction: An Overview;" "Reconstruction as a Problem in Statesmanship;" and "The History of Reconstruction and Revolutionary Mythology"

John Devanny, "The Economic Cost of Reconstruction" and "The Human Cost of Reconstruction"

Carey Roberts, "The Unwelcome Result: Determining the Number of Black Deaths due to War and Reconstruction"

Eric Richardson, "What was the Construction in 'Reconstruction'" and "The Victor's Definition of Race: How Radical Reconstruction Divided Southern Society Along the Color Line"

Troy Kickler, "Better than Slavery?: Contraband Camps and Abuses at the Hands of Liberators;" "Definitions of a Good American: The Northern Influence on the First Free Generation of African Americans;" and "More Baptist than Black: A History of Black Baptists in Reconstruction"

David Aiken, “William Gilmore Simms on Reconstruction"

Donald Livingston, "Constitutional Reconstruction: The Fourteenth Amendment" and "Constitutional Reconstruction: Texas v. White"

Jack Trotter, "The Lost Cause Movement and the War Against Leviathan"

Unfortunately, lectures from some of the past Summer Schools are no longer available on-line. However, you can purchase a one-year membership for $25 and get access to the lectures. Alternatively, you can buy the 2004-2008 Summer School Lectures on CD, and the 2003 Summer School Lectures on DVD.

The Suburban Agrarian
For God, Family and Republic
Professor Gutzman informs us that the transcript of his interview on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Mike Church Show is now available. (During the interview he discusses Justice Souter's replacement.)
Tom Piatak responds to Tom Worstall: What’s Wrong With Virgins?
C. J. Olson Cherries

"The early variety Brook cherries are available at the stand."

California Country TV
Peter Hitchens responds to readers: Guns, nuts, suicides, censorship and drugs
I am criticised for calling Dick Cheney and his Vice-President George W. Bush authoritarian. I don't see why. I think the whole Patriot Act and Homeland Security exercise were frontal assaults on the liberty of the United States, as usual advanced on the pretext of 'security'.
The Little Flower By R.R. Reno
From 2005 -- SF Chronicle: Bubble won't burst -- Study finds Bay Area housing prices in line with economic growth

So, were the "experts," like Todd Sinai, proven wrong? If so, why does he still have a job? And why is the Chronicle still in business? If you take it upon yourself to 'inform the public,' and you rely on 'experts,' without the ability to evaluate critically what they are telling you, then you should suffer some sort of consequences. The newspaper was able to continue operations because the union came to an agreement about job cuts and contract concessions. But irresponsible newspaper publishing, beholden to moneyed interests, deserves to die out.

Panel: Foundations probably won't save the SF Chronicle
Michael Shedlock, 4,820 California gov't workers collect annual pensions of $100K or more from CalPERS
Chosun Ilbo: Chosun Genre Paintings Show Change in Women's Roles
Another suicide: Starlet Found Dead in Apparent Suicide
Someone claimed somewhere that women generally do not grow up until they have a child. (And I took that to mean break out of being selfishness or self-absorption, but maybe they were just talking about becoming mature and responsible.) Is this really the case? Or is it just a lack of virtue on their part? After all, one could make the argument that for many women, the love they feel for their child is more of a primal emotion, than a higher spiritual love, and so just as they were driven by a 'biological' desire for a man to have in order to procreate, afterwards they are driven by 'biological instinct' in their care of their children.

Emotion and instinct, and the raising of both through reason in love. Isn't that why the acquisition of virtue necessary?

How does the means-end reasoning differ between the virtuous woman seeking a husband and her not-so-virtuous counterpart?

If we're just talking about responsibility, then surely we can agree that too many young people, both men and women, no exercise no real responsibility for themselves or others until well after they are finished with school and are working. (I don't consider the directing of others at a workplace to be even close to the full exercise of moral responsibility for others.)
Mark Shiffman, Why we do not own a Television

Originally, we did not have televisions because we always had something better to do. This to me is the first question to ask yourself with regard to watching television: Is there something better I could be doing – something better for me, for my family and household, for my community? As it turns out, the answer to that question is always yes. Even when we need to relax, there is always a better way to do it than in front of a screen of moving images pumping them directly into our minds.

But clearly, that was not enough for us. For awhile, we kept the TV around, and benefited in a way from programs offering somewhat thoughtful perspective on the news and providing a good laugh. The final decision against it was made on the basis of what kind of family life we wanted to have and what living environment we wanted to shape for our children. A television in the house is always a temptation to slothful self-enervation, always something to negotiate and fight about, and sends a message that this piece of equipment and the programming it invades us with has a place in our household life.

Mr. Shiffman refers to Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (wiki) by Jerry Mander (wiki). Short article (summary?) by Mr. Mander.

Jerry Mander Interview

More on Jerry Mander:
Kill Your Television-Jerry Mander
The Perils of Globalization - An Interview with Jerry Mander
Megatechnology - An Interview with Jerry Mander
International Forum on Globalization
Jerry Mander - The Good Earthquake
URTH.TV - Jerry Mander Interview: The corporatization of the media
Exclusive to Transition Culture - An Interview with Jerry Mander
Jerry Mander Touch The Future

Jerry Mander: 6 Reasons for Global Water Crisis, KPFA Event

Indigenous Peoples' View of Peak Oil
Kirkpatrick Sale, writing for FPR: Taking Secession Seriously–At Last


Emma Old and New -- on-the-set photos of the latest adaptation of Emma @
Farewell, the American Century By Andrew J Bacevich (TomDispatch)
Hyperlocavore (From On choosing - a hyperlocavore responds to catastrophe by Liz McLellan.)
NLM: Singing the Propers at Wyoming Catholic College by Jeffrey Tucker
Asia News: Bishop John Tong of Hong Kong, "man of dialogue," but with "non-negotiable principles" by Gianni Criveller

HONG KONG New bishop declares Year of Priestly Vocations
Bp. J-Tong
Bishop John Tong on Independent Catholic News
Anonymous 4 - Miracles of Compostela

Anonymous 4 Website

Friday, May 01, 2009

Daiso and Ikea

Last Saturday, after the Red Ginger and Egg banquet at Winchester Chef for my nephew (photos at Facebook), we went to the Daiso in Cupertino to check it out. It was my first time there. I also looked at the supermarket that was next to it, Marukai.

Daiso is the Japanese $1.50 store. As I was walking through it I even wondered if it was authentically Japanese. The announcement in the store that everything was $1.50 except for items that were marked otherwise was read by a woman with a Japanese accent. I got the impression that the appeal of the store was a bit artificial, that they were trying too hard to make it Japanese, and that it was more a sales gimmick than anything else. Are the items in the store all made in Japan? I suppose if they are, they're safer than comparable items made in China and sold here in Chinese supermarkets and stores.

The Cupertino Daiso is relatively new. There is another store in Daly City, and apparently one in Union City as well.

I did find some cheap notebooks, good-looking chopsticks, and lunch bags/containers. But no chopstick bags -- at least not ones that didn't look cheap.

Marukai is ok, but it's not as big as Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose. I have no idea about the quality of the food there, but ah Fai does a lot of shopping at Marukai.

Do the two stores have a strong enough customer base in Cupertino to survive? Are there that many Japanese residents of Cupertino? Ah Fai says he has a lot of Japanese neighbors in his apartment building. But the store doesn't just attract Japanese people--there are the Koreans and Chinese who shop there as well.

Next time I'll have to take a closer look at the ceramic ware.

From a flyer I saw in Marukai (or was it in Daiso?) -- the Yoshida Brothers are performing at Yoshi's SF, May 12-16. (Their MySpace.)

Daiso Japan Online Store

Later that afternoon we went to the Ikea in Palo Alto. I didn't see any blonde Swedes there. I heard about the ameneties offered in the bathrooms -- babychanging area, free diapers, etc. Is this part of the Swedish [socialist] culture? The quality of the products was not impressive at all. A lot of cheap, poorly made items, like the lazy Susan my sister the M.D. bought.

We had dinner in the cafeteria; I didn't eat anything except some fries, as I was still stuffed from lunch. I didn't eat any meatballs. The next time I am there, maybe. Free refills on soda, but I should be avoiding high-fructose corn syrup.

Dark Sugar The decline and fall of high-fructose corn syrup.

Paul Hébert videos

Paul Hebert And Friends - Cold Viginia Night

Paul Hebert And Friends - Tenvoler

Paul Hebert And Friends & Josee Vautour - Mon Bateau De Papier

Paul Hebert And Friends - When you say nothing at all

Paul Hebert And Friend - Clinch Moutain Backstep
Paul Hebert And Friends - Nine Pound Hammer
Paul Hebert And Friends - Le Printemps
Paul Hebert And Friends
Paul Hebert And Friends - La Tourterelle
Paul Hebert And Friends - Sally Goodin

Paul Hébert - Le Jour De Ton Retour

More from the same CD?
Paul Hébert - Mon Amour, Mon Ami
Yvon Collette - Tu En As Le Droit
Bô-tyme - Les Tymes Du Weekend
Marcel Boudreau - Maman La Plus Belle Femme Au Monde
Marcel Boudreau - Tu Es Venue Comme Un Nuage
Marcella Richard - Les Gars De Mont Carmel
Rhéal LeBlanc - Quelle Sera
Serge Doiron - L'amour De Ma Vie

The CD can be purchased here.

MySpace; wiki
The malls shed their stores and the people shed their malls
By Les Blough, Editor. Axis of Logic
From Stephen Hand: 1967: Is Georgetown University Committing "Suicide"?
Mike Whitney, Economy on the Ropes
From fame to shame: The coming crisis of unecological economics
Peter Pogany, S.V.R. Press
Contemporary economics refuses to absorb ecological reality. Its pandering to techno-economic invincibility and the holy fires of greed renders it increasingly deficient.
Growing Up Sex Tape by Tim Worstall

Mr. Worstall writes:
I’m not one of those who think that the carnal pleasures must be restricted to after the marriage ceremony...
Not so puzzling, given where this was published. It is Taki's Magazine, and open to diverse viewpoints (and not everyone there endorses Christian teachings on sexual morality, either in word or in practice).

But I’m willing to bet that those who are would agree that you’re not fully adult until you have indulged in them, marriage or not. A virgin, of either sex, hasn’t fully understood the driving forces of life.
This however is puzzling. This may be true of those who are frigid or have some phobia of sex. (Which is probably rare among men.) But what adult male hasn't experienced sexual desire? And women too experience sexual desire, but probably in a different way, a way proper to women (and their reproductive role). I'm not referring to the inordinate desire for an orgasm, which can be intensified through self-stimulation. I mean just a healthy sex drive. It seems to me that it is only by understanding the driving force of life (in part, along with restraint), that one is able to be sexually continent or celibate.

Perhaps he means that men are not really adults until they've had sex with women, and vice versa. But I would deny this as well. Understanding the sexual drive and the complimentarity of the sexes, and how these affect male-female dynamics and relationships would suffice, I think. There is more to maturity than having certain experiences. It is the wisdom that matters.
Immaculate Heart Radio (AM 1260) will be broadcasting live Bishop Cordileone's installation Mass next Tuesday, May 5, starting at 11:30 AM.
Coming to the Cow Palace this weekend: the Crossroads of the West Gunshow. Tickets are $10. I don't think I'll be going though, since it is rather pointless--it's not as if I'm shopping or making a purchase.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

AP: Source: Liberal-leaning Justice Souter retiring

April Verch!!!

April Verch Band Performance

April Verch On Canadian Fiddle Styles

April Verch On Travel And Cross Tuning

April Verch

April Verch National Folk Festival 2009

I'm not sure which National Folk Festival this one is. There is one in Australia. I think it is this one, since April Verch is mentioned in the news and probably on the program. (Here in the U.S., there is The 71st National Folk Festival in Butte, Montana, July 10-12, 2009.)

Who would have thought something good would come out Ontario? heh. "I kid, I kid."

April Verch Interview
Peter Hitchens on being a gun nut.

Regarding patriotism, he writes:
One contributor asks why I don't go to live in the USA, since I like it so much. Why should I? This is my country, where my ancestors are buried and where I hope and intend to be buried myself, where I grew up, whose landscape, climate, music, poetry and architecture are in my bones, whose battle-honours are my battle-honours and whose history is my history. Nowhere else is like it. It is precisely because I know and like so many other countries that I know and love my own best of all. Given the way things are going, I don't completely rule out the possibility of becoming an exile, but that will not be because I want to be. It never is.
Now does he consider himself British? Or does he, like Joseph Pearce, reject that 'national' identity, and think of himself as English? (The latter being a proper ethnos or people.) I think he's referred to himself as being British before.

Read his reflections on America.
Continent Not Isolated: Jane Austen among French Women by Ellen Moody
I haven't read it; I have no idea if it is any good.

Museum of Costume: Persuasion

The latest additions to my hat collection.

I asked my friend LRY to help me get some hats in Australia before she came to the U.S. She gave me one as a present. The hats are identical, except for the color, and they're from one of my favorite Australian hat manufacturers, Barmah. I have yet to get a hat from Akubra, as Akubra hats are rather expensive. What you see are Squashy Suede hats, in mocca and chocolate colors. I have two other hats from Barmah, both from the canvas line. The Squash Suede hats are rather inexpensive, I think -- they're only US$40-something. Now I need an occasion to put one of them on, instead of the canvas hat.

American men really should start wearing something other than the baseball cap (and the fedora). Now Aussie and cowboy hats probably do not match the modern Western suit, but that's all the more reason to get rid of the modern Western suit. Who's with me?

LRY told me that there is a public service campaign in Australia, warning people about overexposure to the sun and skin cancer. (See, for example, the website for the Cancer Council South Australia and SunSmart Victoria.) Australians are encouraged to put on more clothes and cover up, and to use skinscreen and umbrellas even. Here in the United States, you generally see only Asians using an umbrella on a sunny day, though I believe I saw an African-American woman do it once. Never a Caucasian. Has the fine parasol industry been brought back to life in Australia? If one is going to make use of an umbrella on a sunny day, why not have a fashionable one?

(Pink Frosting Store sells some.)

We really need something similar in the United States to raise awareness about skin cancer. (And it doesn't have to be a Federal program, if the states would wisen up and get their act together.) White Americans are used to the tan as a sign of beauty. (Or at least a sign of leisure.) Why is this so? Is the lack of pigmentation really that bad? Conan O'Brien makes fun of his paleness all of the time. The absence of color in the skin can be a sign of ill health, but I don't think normally pale people are unattractive.

It's funny, women don't want wrinkles because they think it is unattractive (at the very least it can be a sign of age), but do they do all they can to avoid them? Americans can be so preoccupied with beauty and short-term results, without looking at the consequences of their beauty practices. How about preserving their beauty (and health) in the long run? With respect to tanning (or overexposure to the sun) and skin health, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Even Southern women seem to have forgotten this truth. I don't remember seeing any women wearing hats in Virginia, Kentucky, or Tennessee. (Maybe they put on sunscreen instead. I doubt it.) While I was at Opry Mills in Nashville, there were a lot of fit mothers, which surprised me since I had read that obesity is growing the fastest in the South. But they weren't covering up. (And the women there had the same fashion taste as American women everywhere else.) Now, perhaps the incidence of skin cancer in the United States will not be as high as that of Australia because of the relative locations of each, but wouldn't it be better to be safe than sorry?

A woman who protects her skin from sun damage and pre-mature aging has at least fashion sense, if not a different sense, i.e. common sense. If we cannot appeal to women's concern for health, then let us appeal to their desire for beauty and its maintenance. Generally, men are drawn to a youthful appearance, if not the reality, and women know this. (Though men may not notice the freckles as much as the wrinkles.) 30-something y.o. women with wrinkles and freckles on their body, those spots that do not go away, and some skin discoloration, look much older than they are. So why not act to keep the youthfulness and vibrancy of one's skin as long as possible?

The sun-beaten, weathered skin look is only attractive on cowboys. Or captains in the Royal Navy?


Or just brawny men who work outdoors in general...

I note too that East Asian women are no longer trying to preserve their light skin, especially with celebrities who have too much time on their hands and spend their free time on the same sort of outdoor activities that Westerners first popularized. Can Asians avoid getting freckles? I think so... but they just don't seem to care these days.

On Tuesday evening, when I was driving to Barnes and Noble at Stevens Creek and San Tomas, I passed by a store (which replaced... what was there before? a liquor store? or an auto parts store), Australian Products Co. In their front window large umbrellas were displayed for sale.

Check out Pamela's Parasols, Lace Parasols, and Ladies Victorian Parasols.
Hi-tech parasols at Deveta.
Austen Regency Accessories
Jane Austen Regency Gifts and Books
Costume Classroom: 19th Century Parasols

Sun Protection Clothing
Sun Protection Clothing Shop for the family
C Wear
Solartex Sun Gear
Equator Sun
Sun Emproium

Related Links:
Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia

Indiana Jones does have a nice fedora, but it has a wider brim than most fedoras, doesn't it?

Yahoo! Movies
Chameleon Like -- producers of the Google made-in-China Moleskine ripoff notebook... I have one and I've been using it, so it serves its purpose... (The Google notebooks have been customized for Google, with "Google" having been etched into the front cover.)

5 Essential Swine Flu Survival Tips

source: Yahoo/Live Science

1. Wash your hands.

The best thing anyone could do right now to avoid swine flu, experts say, is to wash their hands. It sounds like a stupidly simple response to an overwhelming situation, but nearly compulsive hand-washing helps prevent the spread of this airborne respiratory disease. It's the droplets from coughing and sneezing that spread the disease. These get on our hands. And then everything we touch is infectious.

How you do it is important:

- Use warm or hot water if you can.

- Lather up and rub not just your fingers and palms but also under the fingernails, around the wrists and between the fingers for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.

- Rinse well.

It is important to wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom, but also after using a tissue or covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, sick or not. So yes, that's a lot of hand-washing. Basically, think of how often you would wash your hands if you worked in an emergency room or operating room. Wash your hands that often and that thoroughly.

2. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

"The way you spread influenza is with droplets that come out of your mouth or nose," said Dr. George T. DiFerdinando Jr., a physician, epidemiologist and professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Public Health. He recommends the classic shoulder or crook-of-the elbow sneeze.

"It's a whole lot better for those [droplets] to be on blouse or sleeve than spraying onto surfaces or other people," he said. Then ... you guessed it ... wash your hands.

Surgical face masks are an option for keeping your droplets to yourself, but they don't keep your hands clean and there is no consensus in the health care community on whether face masks are advisable for everyday use.

"If [the swine flu virus] is spreading throughout the community, it would not surprise me if people use [face masks] to good effect," DiFerdinando said.

3. Stay home.

If you're sick, stay home, DiFerdinando said. Try to muster the energy to wash your hands after you use tissues so you don't reinfect everything you touch afterward. This helps you recover, and protects your loved ones.

4. Don't touch your face.

Try, try, to keep your hands out of your mucous membranes - your eyes, nose and mouth - direct routes to the bloodstream that allow a virus to bypass the protective barrier of the skin. Few of us succeed at this fully.

"That's just human nature," DiFerdinando told LiveScience. "It's not something to moan about. In this circumstance you've got a very strong motivator to keep your hands clean. If you keep washing your hands, you decrease the dose [of flu virus] that you get when you put your hands in your mouth."

5. Avoid sick people

It's a good idea to avoid close contact with other people who are sick, DiFerdinando said, adding: "We won't even see air kisses." The flu virus tends not to float in the air. Instead, once dispersed, the liquid droplets tend to settle on objects that doctors call fomites - things that people touch that can pick up a virus. Examples include coins, hand rails, door knobs, common household and office objects. Smooth objects transmit microbes more than rough or porous ones. So, for instance, coins would allow one to pick up more virus than paper money.
Chet Richards, Latest U-Boat Threat

The use of disposable sumersibles to transport cocaine from Columbia to the United States--how seaworthy are these vessels? Apparently they can go rather deep in the water. I suppose using the US Navy and Coast Guard to interdict these vessels would be fruitless. Apparently they avoid detection rather easily. If we think that the Federal "War against Drugs" should be ended, or at least modified, what do we do about the supply of illegal narcotics into the country? Does the US military have a legitimate role to play in protecting the countries border's? Or should we rely exclusively on state and local authorities to make arrests and put the drug pushers away?

I can see an argument being made to put drug abusers in some sort of servitude until they demonstrate self-rule.

And William Lind's latest: On War #302: Blinders.

Related links:
Sub with cocaine seized off Costa Rica - Americas-
This story is from 2006 -- I think I may have read it before, so this is not really "news" -- it's been happening a while...

2000: BBC News AMERICAS Drug submarine found in Colombia

2007: - Submarine Carrying 5 Tons of Cocaine Seized off Guatamala

2008: Cocaine smugglers turn to submarines, feds say -
Submarine full of cocaine captured in Mexico - Telegraph
Pictured: The home-made submarines used to smuggle cocaine
How Cocaine Submarines Work - The Blogs at HowStuffWorks - Cartels Use Submarines to Move Cocaine to U.S.
The American Papist: Flash: Former Laetare Medalist Judge John T. Noonan to deliver address at Notre Dame’s Commencement in lieu of Mary Ann Glendon

Photo: What Obama will wear at Notre Dame's Commencement

Just another non-Catholic wearing something symbolic that means little to him, or something different... happens all the time at Catholic universities.

I didn't watch the press conference, as I had no reason to expect anything new to come from it. American Papist has a relevant snippet: Text: Obama's response to tonight's question on Notre Dame, FOCA and abortion
From Boundless: The Crisis of Manliness by
"Given our current confusion over the meaning of manliness, we have nothing to lose by re-opening the issue."
With my growing interest in Moleskine notebooks ($10.95 at B&N! I do remember them being expensive when I first saw them a few years back), I find this post at the Art of Manliness: How to Make a Moleskine PDA.

Zen to Done is mentioned in the comments...
Zen Habits Simple Productivity
Zen To Done (ZTD): The Ultimate Simple Productivity System
Zen To Done: The Simple Productivity E-Book!
Zen-to-Done: A Simple Alternative to GTD
Zen to Done: Leo Babauta: The Growing Life E-Book Review
Zen to Done - GTD as modified by Leo Babauta
Q & A with Leo of
An Interview With Leo Babauta (

Review of Star Trek Countdown

At B&N there were several copies of the Star Trek Countdown trade paperback book, the comic book prequel to the upcoming Star Trek movie, so I was able to read through it on Tuesday night. Would I buy the book? Probably not. The artwork is fine and the dialogue didn't bother me as much as it did some Star Trek fans, but the story was unsatisfying. I found it a bit forced--after all, the creators were trying to give a backstory to the movie, explaining the relationship between Nero and Spock, and the reasons behind Nero's actions.

I thought there weren't enough political machinations, details about Vulcan-Romulan relations, or contrasts between the two cultures. We do see some "normal" Romulans: Nero and his crew, and his wife. There are some hints at what had transpired between Nemesis and Countdown, but probably not enough to satisfy devoted fans. I find the details given by the developers of Star Trek Online about what has happened to the Romulan Empire since Nemesis to be more interesting, even if the game is non-canonical. (You can find out more at TrekMovie.)

Some of the same problems affected the TNG episode "Unification," which featured the return of Federation Ambassador Spock to TV. It was discovered that Spock was hiding on Romulus, aiding and teaching the underground movement. While I enjoyed the return of Spock, the episode suffered from a lack of scale. Budget problems, I know. Not enough money to dress the sets. Still, the episode could have been executed much better, and why compress the story to only two episodes, when it could have easily been drawn out to 3 (even 4?).

Part of the weakness of Countdown is due to the limitations of the format. There is only so much that can be done in 4 comic book issues. A novel would probably have done greater justice to the story. (However, while I haven't read any Star Trek novels lately, from what I remember, they rarely describe alien cultures in detail; too much is left to the imagination.) But some of Countdown's shortcomings are also due to the story itself. I don't have any problem with the life trajectories of Data (becoming the captain of the Enterprise after his neural nets/memories are grafted onto B-4), Worf (now a general in the Klingon Empire), Geordi LaForge (going off into the private sector and creating his own ships and new technology), or Picard (appointed the Federation Ambassador to Vulcan), but it is rather convenient that only Spock is able to figure out that the supernova threatens the whole galaxy. (Although this is later confirmed by the Romulans and Vulcans, but it is too late.)

Not only that, but the Vulcans are so suspicious of (or hostile to?) the Romulans that they do not take decisive action right away and hand the technology over to Nero, under Spock's supervision. If there was a possibility that the supernova did have the destructive capability Spock claimed, would it not be more logical to forestall any danger, than to delay? Haven't they evolved since the time of Jonathan Archer and Enterprise?

Then there is the science-fiction of the plot: the use of "red matter" to create a singularity, or a black hole... (Red matter is generated from some other material that needs to be mined, Decalithium... I suppose it is no sillier than "dilithium.") The only way to stop the expansion of the supernova and to dissipate its energy is to create a black hole at its center. However, haven't other ways to create black holes been discovered in the Star Trek universe? Instead, we need to rely upon the injection of a rare, exotic material. And how does a supernova get stronger by devouring planets and other celestial bodies? [Some have questioned if the supernova is somehow able to travel faster than light, since this seems to be the case in the comic book. The distance between the Hobus star and Romulus is not mentioned in the story, as far as I know. We can't let inconvenient numbers and facts get in the way of story-telling, even if it is a science-fiction story.] And what if there is already a black hole at the center of a supernova?

It turns out that the only people who possess the technology and know-how to create the blackhole are the Vulcans. Naturally, the Romulans are very reluctant to seek their help. How were the Vulcans able to make such a discovery? Was it part of some top secret project, aimed at creating a weapon? If it was a normal discovery, wouldn't the Vulcans, supposed heralds of scientific progress, have made it known to everyone else?

The Federation is ready to undertake a covert operation to collapse the supernova. The Romulans, realizing that impending disaster, contemplate using military force to take the technology away from the Vulcans. Why wouldn't they have considered this option beforehand? If there is a possible danger to the Empire, I do not think it would be characteristic of the Romulans to take a slow course of action, while they try to confirm Spock's findings. Is the Hobus star valuable to them? Would its destruction or containment have any bad consequences? And don't tell me that in the Star Trek universe, ways haven't been devised of destroying stars before they explode. The Romulan government and military have been willing to kill innocent people in order to bring about some advantage to the Empire. Why not a star, especially one that serves no useful function?

The destruction of Romulus is the motivator for Nero's actions -- he blames it first of all on the Vulcans for refusing to give the technology needed to prevent this [tragic] event from happening, and he seeks to exact his revenge upon them. As someone who can be a Star Trek fan from time to time, I don't like the permanent changes that have been made to the prime timeline. Even if the comic book is non-canonical, the movie itself establishes that Romulus has been destroyed. What's left of the Romulan Star Empire? Some colonies? Part of the Romulan fleet? It's no longer the star power that it once was. (Was Remus destroyed as well?)

Spock signs off at the end of the comic book, knowing that he has left the galaxy in good hands. It may be a better ending for the character than the death of Captain Kirk, but I think much more could have been done with the Romulus-Vulcan story. (Spock being martyred? Spock's pacificist movement leading to a more violent reaction among Romulans? etc. etc.)

Maybe I'm just looking for reasons to criticize the comic book (and the upcoming movie). After all, I don't have that much invested in the Star Trek universe, do I? Heh. Many Star Trek fans have been pleased with the book. Those who are not fans may enjoy the story. But I think Countdown was meant primarily for the fans, especially those concerned with canon and continuity, and I don't think it measures up to fan's expectations. Those who have the money and creative control can do what they wish with the Star Trek universe and tell whatever stories they want, but I find these new products disappointing. So many wasted potential.

[Why does Nero decide to go after the Federation as well? Because they are the enemies of the Romulans? And why single out James T. Kirk?]

Memory-Alpha: Star Trek: Countdown

And now, for some comments about the clothing of the Romulans and the Vulcans...

In Countdown, the Romulan senators are still wearing robes similar to East Asian clothing, the same sort of clothing they were wearing in ST Nemesis. (The closet analogue seems to be the Japanese kimono for men, except that the robes are rather wide at the bottom. I can't tell if the senators are wearing pants under their robes are not. If they are, then it would be similar to what Sung Chinese wore?)

The Vulcans in Star Trek: First Contact seemed to be wearing East Asian-inspired clothing. But this has changed over time? (Recall the Vulcan clothing Spock wore in TMP and Undiscovered Country. You can find pictures over at TrekCore.) What were the influences on the designers of Vulcan clothing for the movies and all of the post-TOS series?

In American culture, the wearing of a robe implies a certain amount of leisure. At the moment I can't recall if a distinction was made in the structure of the clothing in China -- certainly distinctions were made with the material and color. Are Asian robes restrictive of movement, preventing a more active lifestyle? I'd have to look through the history of Chinese fashion -- I believe soldiers did wear pants and a shorter robe. But I don't know if pre-Qing nobles wore shorter robes when they went hunting.

Memory Alpha: Romulan uniform and Vulcan uniform
Rare Photos
ANTHOLOGY: CHANTS AND POLYPHONY - Panis Angelicus by the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael's Abbey

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daniel Larison responds to Noah Millman in Regime, Polity And Country and clarifies his earlier post.

I would maintain that before there is a regime, and before there is a polity, there is a country to which we have obligations that come first and which may come into conflict with our duties as citizens of a polity and as subjects of a regime. That is, patriotism is among our pre-political obligations, and one in which we initially have the least choice. Constitutional patriotism is slightly different, in that it takes into account the nature of the regime and the regime’s effect on the polity’s well-being. Constitutional patriotism permits dissent and even resistance against a regime when it begins to threaten the established constitutional order, because it tends to assume that the country and its formal political constitution are closely tied together. Behind even constitutional patriotism, though, is a recognition that it is the country, and not even the political constitution, that is most deserving of love and loyalty.
Crunchy Con: WHO: Pandemic Level 5 now (see also Religious bigotry in Egypt swine cull?)
Steve Sailer: too much of a race reductionist?

In his post he refers to Race and Education: 1954-2007 by Raymond Wolters, who cites the research of James S. Coleman.

The achievement gap troubled Coleman. As a sociologist he was inclined to ascribe the differences in black and white test scores to the influence of the social environment, and he also knew that attributing even part of the difference to racial inheritance would place him outside the pale of his profession and render him ineligible for future grants. For Coleman and for many other educators and sociologist who studied his report, the key variables were family background and neighborhood. There was no correlation between test scores and per-pupil spending, age of textbooks, and a host of other measures. But there was a correlation with family background, the education and occupations of parents, and the number of books in the home. ...

Where Mr. Sailer sees race (and genetic inheritance) as the explanation, I see [family] culture, and possibly a problem with pedagogy. Parents who are active in their children's learning, and whose language arts are strong, can compensate for bad teachers (or for a lack of teaching due to other factors) in the public schools.

For Coleman, these findings were unwelcome. Personally, he favored more spending for education. And Coleman's dismay was compounded by another correlation that emerged from the data. Both black and white children seemed to do better on tests if their teachers had done well on a standard test of vocabulary. This was especially problematical because black teachers were "on the whole less well prepared, less qualified, with lower verbal skills, than their white counterparts." This led to "the conjecture that [students] would do less well on average under black teachers than under white teachers." If so, "a major source of inequality of educational opportunity for black students was the fact they were being taught by black teachers." Yet this possibility was so heterodox that the Coleman report did not pursue the matter. In 1991 Coleman expressed regret over the decision "not to ask the crucial question." "A dispassionate researcher," he wrote, "would have gone on to ask the question we did not ask." ...

Poring over the statistics, he noted that African American teachers, on average, had slightly more years of formal education than their white counterparts. But the black teachers lagged behind whites in vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Did the same teachers who had more years of formal education also lag? Or only those with less years?

As for Mr. Sailer's conclusion, that having more better teachers means that we need more white teachers -- I've seen plenty of white teachers who are not strong in language arts. (And non-white teachers as well.) Perhaps we should be encouraging more home-schooling instead, since we continue to churn out so many college graduates. If parents are taking less of an active role in their children's learning, and sound pedagogy has been replaced by novel but ineffective techniques, should we not see a drop in achievement scores accordingly?

Related links:
James Samuel Coleman
James S. Coleman (1926–1995)
James S. Coleman American Sociological Association
Johns Hopkins Magazine -- April 2000
Equality of Educational Opportunity (COLEMAN) Study (EEOS), 1966

VDARE: Race and Education: An Interview With Professor Raymond Wolters
Paul Gottfried, Neocons on the Danube

Anyhow the Germans have taken the necessary steps to becoming post-national and may soon cease to exist as an ethnic nation. For example, Germans no longer reproduce their evil seed, although Habermas hopes that his people will stay around long enough to make an impression as inconsolable penitents before the rest of the world. Furthermore, the Germans are happily allowing their government to hand them over to an EU super-state, even without a popular vote. And then there’s the ultimate act of German national suicide, which consists of handing over inner cities to mostly uneducated and often fanatically Muslim immigrants. One can thereby eliminate German fascism and illiberal German nationalism both at the same time by getting rid of the people in question.
Kevin R. C. Gutzman, A Dubious Victory

With its decision in Nordyke v. King last week, in which the recent Supreme Court Heller decision was applied to state law, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took another step down the long road of “incorporating” the Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. In doing so, it continued down the path toward completely inverting the model of government to which The People agreed when they ratified the Constitution.
Would the decision work for the benefit of Californians? (Or people living in New York or Illinois?) If California were to somehow ban the sale of guns I would consider leaving the state. But if the 'majority' want a state where this is the norm, shouldn't they be allowed to make that decision? (Even if it goes against the Anglo-American political tradition. It's not like California is an outstanding example of a state that bears this heritage.)

Henry's Music: Motets from a Royal Choirbook / Songs by Henry VIII

It's the first I've heard of Alamire, but I'm looking forward to listening to the CD.

The CD is from Obsidian Records; it is distributed in the United States by Naxos. The CD was featured on last Sunday's Early Music Show, and will be released here in the United States on May 1 (it is available for pre-order at Amazon). The program for the Henry's Music tour:

Obsidian looks like a promising new label -- can it survive the economic crisis?

HENRY VIII at Arundel: ALAMIRE celebrates 1509-2009


See also:
Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant - Interviews - Video Interview
Mikhail Karikis
S o u n d L A B 2009 » Interview: Mikhail Karikis

Mikhail sings 'For you, only you' with Alamire Choir, live at Druncliffe Chapel, Ireland, 2008

Mikhail and Alamire Choir perform For R.S. live

Mikhail Karikis with Alamire Choir at Sligo Abbey, Ireland, November 2008

(The mix might sound interesting... but I can't say that I enjoy it.)
FPR: Causes and Lessons of the Current Economic Crisis by Michael Federici

My reaction to our recent economic troubles is influenced by several thinkers who are known less for their technical contributions to the field of economics than they are for their imaginative conception of economic life. They include: Wendell Berry, Wilhelm Röpke (A Humane Economy), Joseph Schumpeter (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy), E. E. Schumacher (Small is Beautiful), Karl Polanyi (The Great Transformation), and Pope Leo XIII (Rerum Novarum).
Just missed this concert... that's what I get for not looking up the current season (just ended!) of the SF Early Music Society.

From the SFEMS:


Annalisa Pappano, artistic director, pardessus de viole; Joanna Blendulf, pardessus de viole; Daniel Zuluaga, theorbo;Youngmi Kim, soprano

—The Secret of the Muse—
Music for the Pardessus de Viole
Discover the intimate and clever music of the French Baroque for the rare pardessus de viole, a hybrid that blends violin and viola da gamba. While the viola da gamba first appeared around 1480 in Italy, the pardessus did not appear until the early 1700s in France, when it became a feature of the glory days of Versailles. Music that has not been heard since the time of Marie Antoinette will showcase the unique sonority of the pardessus.

Friday, April 17, First Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, 8:00

Saturday, April 18, St. John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, 7:30

Sunday, April 19, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, 4:00

THE CATACOUSTIC CONSORT: Cincinnati Ohio Baroque Music Ensemble - Cincinnati Chamber Music
THE CATACOUSTIC CONSORT San Francisco Classical Voice

Curses are real.

And Korean shamanism is not a benign practice or 'religion'. Is this true of all forms of shamanism? I suppose it depends on what is believed -- is there an omnipotent God who is the source of all that is good? Or do humans somehow have the ability to command spirits to do their bidding, and to perform 'magic'? Is magic seen to be a neutral instrument? I once got into an online debate with a Wiccan about the use of magic and spells. She claimed that spells were nothing more than 'prayers,' but in her worldview, why would spirits even bother with humans? Don't they have anything better to do? Why would they help a human attain some sort of temporal good? And if a spell is nothing more than a prayer, how can this be reconciled to claims of efficacy? A petition can always be refused. But perhaps we can bribe the spirits to do as we ask or wish...

I was thinking about curses and Korean shamanism this morning, since a dear friend's family was cursed by a woman through the help of a Korean shaman, and she even died during the process. (It was unclear to me if the death was intentional, as a means of finalizing the curse, a perverse form of sacrifice -- but it sounds quite diabolical, does it not? And what sort of morality would permit curses like that to be put on someone else?) As a result of the curse, her family has suffered greatly (especially physical ailments).

This probably has had no small impact on their religious orientation. (Especially when turning to Christianity seems ineffectual.)

Recently one of her brother-in-laws lost his job, and has become ill. She doesn't know what illness it is, but it seems rather serious. I didn't say anything to her at the time, but perhaps she was thinking that it was another effect of the curse. She has been having bad flashbacks recently as well...

Please pray for them and all victims of Satanic activity. St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.


Faces in Shamanism of Korea

One more video of Justine Waddell...

the final scene of Great Expectations...
An update to this post... no response to my greeting so far. It shouldn't be surprising? But I still think it is rude, nonetheless.

I've received only response at CM so far -- perhaps some people think that it is better to not send a response than to overtly reject someone, but I think the opposite is the case, at least when it comes to evaluating their character.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daniel Larison, Radical Critique

In a less extreme way, Kennan’s patriotism and his common-sense recognition of what Montesqieu and Antifederalists knew over two centuries ago–that an extended republic cannot survive as a genuine republic–required him to question the status quo of a continental nation-state that had grown too large for the kind of self-government that had once been ours. This is not a “critique of America itself,” but a critique of a kind of polity, one that is actually far removed from much of the American experience. “America itself” is different from and more than its polity. The nature of America is not in its government, or at least not entirely or primarily in its government. Indeed, “America itself” contains the elements of many different Americas that found greater expression in a more genuinely federalist system, and which might once again find full expression in a more decentralized political order. It is natural that regimes would want to define loyalty to country as disloyalty, because loyalty to country threatens the regime’s monopoly on loyalty, but it is not required that we go along with it.
I think Dr. Larison is emphasizing the difference between a country (or the people who compose it) and the polity (and its constitution or perhaps its political economy). All this talk about George F. Keenan by conservatives such as Drs. Larison and Bacevich makes me interested in reading more about and by him.
Early Russian Polyphony Раннее русское многоголосье Херувимская
In monte Oliveti In Mount Olive by Giovanni Croce Polyphonic Choir Harmonia Vibo Valentia
Asia News: Funeral Mass for Fr. Tan Tiande, who "blesses us Chinese Catholics" by Paul Ma
Asia Times: Eileen Chang's fractured legacy
In her lifetime, Chinese icon Eileen Chang could not bring herself to publish the autobiographical Little Reunion, written under the pain-filled shadow of her ex-husband. That it was published this year and is flying off the shelves is an odd fate for the writings of an elitist, introspective and apolitical author who penned her greatest works in Shanghai in the 1940s and died alone in Los Angeles in 1995. - Peter Lee
When the Oil Gives Out by Theodore Roszak (via EB)
Thomas Berry: Living in harmony with nature
Morgan Josey Glover,
At 94 years, cultural historian and Catholic priest Thomas Berry is a leading ecological thinker in America who has been called a global prophet, a visionary and a spokesman for the Earth. He has worked for decades to develop and promote his vision of an Ecozoic Era, a future historical period defined by humanity’s move away from exploitation of the natural world to a harmonious relationship with other living beings.


His ideas are heavily influenced by childhood nature experiences, Asian and indigenous religious traditions, French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin , and modern evolutionary theory. He moved back to Greensboro in 1995.


S. Nuno Alvares Pereira Nuno De Santa Maria Álvares Pereira (1360-1431) - Biography




Biography of Blessed Nuno of St. Mary

NUNO OF ST. MARY (Nuno Alvares Pereira, The Holy Constable, 1360-1431) (pdf)
wiki & PT wiki
Bl. Nuno Alvarez Pereira, O.Carm.
Blessed Nuno Alvares Pereira, Religious
RORATE CÆLI: All hail the Holy Constable
Zenit: Benedictines Celebrate Brother's Canonization


(source) Bernardo Tolomei (1272-1348) - Biography

idle speculations: Bernardo Tolomei
Italian website
VATICAN The Eucharist as the response to the crisis and loss of meaning of our time

Benedict XVI. Saints proclaim the Glory of God

Benedict XVI Offers 5 New Saints as Role Models
Pope creates 5 saints including Portuguese warrior
Pope Proclaims Saints at Vatican Ceremony

Pope Benedict XVI gestures on his arrival at the Canonization of Blesseds Italians Arcangelo Tadini, Bernardo Tolomei, Geltrude Comensoli, Caterina Volpicelli and Portoguese Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira in St. Peters' square at the Vatican on April 26, 2009. (Getty/Daylife)

Tapestries depicting five new saints hang from Saint Peter's facade at the Vatican during a canonisation mass led by Pope Benedict XVI April 26, 2009. The five new saints include Portugal's national hero Nuno Alvares Pereira (2nd L), Italy's Arcangelo Tadini (C), Bernardo Tolomei (2nd R), Geltrude Comensoli (L) and Caterina Volpicelli (R). (Reuters/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead an open-air canonization ceremony for five new saints, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sunday, April 26, 2009. Benedict XVI canonized five new saints, including Portugal's 14th century independence leader and an Italian monk who died of the plague after tending to the sick. (AP/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI (C) arrives to lead a canonisation mass of five new saints at the Saint Peter's square in Vatican April 26, 2009. Pope Benedict created five new saints on Sunday, including Portugal's national hero Nuno Alvares Pereira, a medieval warrior-friar credited with securing Portugal's independence from Castile. The pope told pilgrims at the canonisation in the Vatican that the 14th-century nobleman had shown that "in any situation, even of a military and warlike nature, it is possible to act and live out the values and principles of Christian life". (Reuters/Daylife)
I believe Holy Transfiguration Skete has updated their website. I've passed by the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, but never actually entered their monastery--I believe it's Anglican/Episcopalian. (The New Scot pointed it out while we were driving by, iirc.)

Wives and Daughters

I've been enjoying Wives and Daughters and Justine Waddell's performance as Molly Gibson the past few days. I've never seen all of it before, even though it was an 'instant favorite' when I first saw part of it on Masterpiece Theater. I think it was first aired in 1999, and it was during Lent or Holy Week, and I was at Christendom at that time. The TV room at the school wasn't that great, and it was usually occupied. Sarge, Pete Takeshi, CC, and I did get a chance to watch a part of it while we were in Scranton for the Triduum, staying at a priest's residence. (That was the year we attended the liturgies in Shohola, with the now-infamous Society of St. John. (Apparently their website is no longer being maintained. Neither is the website for the College of St. Justin Martyr.) Lot of memories about that trip, but I'll save that for another post in the future, if I do write about it.

One of these days I'll read the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell.

I wanted to find a photo of Roger Hamley's hat, but no luck so far. It's a great-looking hat. You can see it in some of the fan-made videos, though.

Look After You - Wives and Daughters - A Molly and Roger music video - The Fray

You can see the hat at 2:08 and 3:25.

I have to admit that I prefer the vest and the longer coat -- I think it's much better than the modern coat...

Another Wives and Daughters fashion site.
Iain Glen page.

A blog dedicated to Justine Waddell. (It hasn't been updated in a while.) I should re-watch Great Expectations (which also stars Ioan Gruffudd).

I haven't seen her version of Tess of the D'urbervilles. (Done in 1998, not the 2008 one.)

Does she have a South African accent in real life? 2 photos here, in the Life archive.

Anthony Howell plays Roger Hamley.
German fansite; another fansite
Masterpiece Theatre Foyle's War Who is Christopher Foyle?

He looks somewhat different in Foyle's War.

Some more fan vids:

Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters - Roger and Molly

Wives and Daughters, Molly and Roger

And some love advice from the adaptation: Take the Squire's Advice