Saturday, August 01, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Well, at least some Taiwanese appreciate Palestinra and polyphony in general... I still don't think I'd marry a Taiwanese girl.
Sandro Botticelli - Música - "Ave María" de Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Working from the premise that we will eventually run out of plentiful supplies of manufactured fertilizers, I have been reading old farming books written before artificial fertilizers became easily available. I am amazed at the sophistication with which science approached the subject of soil fertility once it become evident in the mid-1800s that farmers were rapidly depleting the native richness of their soils and had to find ways to restore it using livestock manure and green manure crops.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
HCK is back in the area, so on Wednesday I went to see The Hurt Locker with him at CineArts (Santana Row). (We first hand lunch at Counter. Have they always offered 1lb pattie? I didn't go to that extreme today... I'll bring Sarge to Counter next time he's in town.)
I think the movie's high rating at Rotten Tomatoes is deserved. It is better Summer movie than the Summer movies that have been released. It's unfortunate that it is playing on such a small number of screens.
The team leader of the EOD unit, Sgt. William James, might seem to be a danger junkie, someone who lives off the high of adrenaline. Sgt. Sanborn, one of the members of his team, calls him reckless early on in the movie. James is later accused by the other team member, Spc. Eldridge of only caring about getting an adrenaline rush -- I don't get that impression. His defenders might claim that if he puts anyone at risk, it's just himself, and not the rest of the team. But in so far as the team are then moved to try to rescue him (somehow), they too are in put in further danger. Instead, he seems to me to be very focused on the job, dealing with potential obstacles in his own way so that he can get the job done efficiently. His is not a careless bravado, as he recognizes the real danger that is present. But he also acknowledges that there is little that he can do to mitigate it, except to do his job as best as he can before the bomb explodes.
Later in the movie, he is guilty of being rash, not because he wants to get a thrill, but because he wants to retaliate against those who use IEDs and hide behind the scenes to watch their weapons bring death and devastation to others. *spoiler alert* There is also a personal reason for him to seek some sort of revenge, as he believes that a boy he has befriended on the base has been killed by insurgents, and turned into a body bomb.
For obvious reasons it reminded me of the BBC series Danger UXB, except that it wasn't as 'civilized.'
Is it an alpha male movie? The actors portraying the soldiers certainly seem like the real thing and exemplars of modern American masculinity. (In contrast, Ryan Phillippe in Stop Loss has no credibility as a soldier or as a man.) Their friendship is built up by facing a common danger, and cemented by wrestling/fighting, drinking during their downtime.
According to one blogger doing an analysis of TV shows: "Hero + Goal + Action toward that goal = male oriented" and "A specific goal for the male lead, and action taken towards that goal, define a male show." The dichotomy is between doing and becoming/being, and it is. Do the males have a goal and a plan to reach that goal, and do they carrying it out? Do they exercise masculine qualities and authority? Or are they too busy emoting and talking about their feelings? (An example under this analysis of a female show is, surprisingly, The Sopranos.)
I suppose it isn't really saying much more than this: a male show is one that has male characters who act like men, not women, and this is taken to be the norm, even if it is somewhat idealized. It respects (or values) male psychology for what it is. Men don't want to watch shows with men acting like women--they want to watch shows with men acting like men.
Can the same sort of analysis be applied to movies? Would a movie about male friendship be appealing to males? Does every story have a conflict/problem and a resolution? What about "journeys of self-discovery"? Some "chick flicks" do not seem to have a real problem, unless a problem is so broad as to encompass the difficulties of ordinary life. This will have to be dealt with in a subsequent post.
The Hurt Locker is definitely a guy movie, but women may actually enjoy it as well--would they be more attracted to the characters of this movie than to the beta males of other movies?
There are some weird diversions, which seem rather forced, as if the scriptwriter wanted a change of scenery because doing an entire movie about defusing bombs might be too boring. In the middle of the movie the team meats up with a SAS team whose vehicle suffered a flat tire. This leads to an interesting sniper duel. Later, there's a little bit of James Bond when James sneaks off base to find out what happened to the Iraqi boy that he befriended.
Perhaps the ending was the weakest part of the movie. Some were distracted by the actress doing the cameo as James's wife. That didn't bother me as much as the fact that it seemed tacked on--it didn't flow well, even if it was a necessary part of explaining James's character.
I agree with Roger Ebert's assessment of the character: There's a need for guys like him, with a special skillset. James is a bomb tech--he hints to his wife of his desire to go back to Iraq: "You know there's a need for bomb techs." He's good at his job and he's lost without it (in the civilian world). For once the tired trope that "it's all about the guy next to you" wasn't uttered at all during the movie, even though the particular brotherhood of men at arms is shown.
Yahoo has some promo stills for Jeremy Renner.
'The Hurt Locker' and Its Secret Weapon: The Return of John Wayne
Once when asked why I was not a “white nationalist,” I responded by explaining that it is the whites far more than the blacks who have produced our anti-white and anti-bourgeois regime and culture. The whites have done this to themselves, in a gesture of cosmic stupidity and moral arrogance that I could never imagine any other race engaging in. The people in our government who enact laws and dictate policies discriminating against whites, males and Christians were put there overwhelmingly by white Christian voters. Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven, who was responsible for the anti-white policy leading to the Ricci challenge, is an Italian Catholic elected mostly by white ethnics. The state in which DeStefano resides, which is the one whence I come, is preponderantly white, and most of the whites in Connecticut vote for the political Left. Moreover, the WASP Republican Party makes about as much noise as the Democrats lamenting America’s racist past and promising to make amends for their alleged sins of commission and omission. There is nothing that Obama said this summer while visiting Ghana about our evil past as a slave-holding country that could equal the declaration of shame that his Republican predecessor had uttered on the same continent two years earlier. While Republicans get no credit for their groveling from black Democrats, no one can accuse them of not “reaching out.”
The culture of white guilt has spread so far that it seems entirely incidental if black parasites have joined the game. Far worse than Gates’s chutzpah is the toxic waste that we put into the minds of the young here and in Europe about the burden of Euro-American history. The politics of atonement is based on gross exaggerations and selective treatments of the past, which are then combined with adoration of the bizarre and anti-Western. But this approach to civilization is precisely the one that my students and most academics of my acquaintance have absorbed; and they have taken over this perspective out of inertia or the desire to rise socially. The answer for most of our young is not a crash course in the great books, even if we could decide on which ones to teach. Most people have neither the inclination nor the ability to ponder such funded wisdom; and not a few of those who teach it are already full of the multicultural ideology and politics of guilt that have contributed to our problem.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
He does not see himself as being subject to any authority, except perhaps that of his adopted father. I don't think he is an individualist; his tribe is just too small (and is decreased by one with the death of his adopted brother at the end of the movie).
Someday... I will read the original novel and the Leather-Stocking Tales. How many American school children today read those stories?
Art of Manliness: Command a Room Like a Man A Man’s Guide to Summer Dress: Part 1 by Antonio
In Washington the United states agrees to cut its deficit and maintain a stable dollar as China agrees to reduce its reliance on exports and open up its financial markets. According to experts, in view of their interdependence China and the US plan to grow together.
A startup unveils a high-yield process for making fuel from carbon dioxide and sunlight.
By Kevin Bullis
The C02 may be free, along with the sunlight. What about the water, though? Where is that going to come from? And the nutrients? What is the source of nitrogen, for example? How does one prevent the microorganisms from reproducing too quickly? Are there any feedback loops that would inhibit production of biofuel, or worse kill the organisms?
But the new process, because of its high yields, could supply all of the country's transportation fuel from an area the size of the Texas panhandle.Would production be centralized or spread out throughout the country?
One of my favorite rifles, as my friend Michael Gaddy knows, is the Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM.
By Martin Hutchinson
China's recent announcement that it would use its US$2 trillion of foreign reserves to boost its companies' overseas acquisitions tells us that its economic beliefs are neither those of Adam Smith, nor of Karl Marx, but of the 17th century mercantilist Thomas Mun. It is becoming clear that in economics, unlike in "hard" sciences, old belief systems never die.
Mun (1571-1641) wrote a classic magnum opus England's Treasure by Foreign Trade. Published only after his death in 1664, it was nevertheless very influential. Mun had been a director of the East India Company, and, unlike earlier theorists, believed that foreign trade was beneficial. However, he didn't hold with any high-faluting nonsense like comparative advantage or maximization of global economic welfare. For Mun, the purpose of foreign trade was to export more than you imported and, consequently, amass a huge store of foreign "Treasure," which you could then use to found colonies that would take control of natural resources.
To further this objective, countries should: cut back domestic consumption as far as possible; increase the use of land and other domestic resources to reduce imports; encourage the export of goods made with foreign raw materials; and export goods with price-inelastic demand because profits would be greater.
Mun's theory made sense in the 17th century economic jungle - and today it obviously makes sense to China. The country's currency, the yuan, is undervalued, so exports consistently exceed imports. Domestic consumption is kept low and savings high, both of which suppress imports. In industries such as automobiles where consumer demand is inevitable, foreign manufacturers are forced into domestic joint ventures, so that domestic manufacturers can be developed to replace imports. Domestic agriculture and resource extraction efforts are intensive.
China has set up free-trade zones, in which foreign parts are assembled into goods that are then exported. Finally, the country has amassed a gigantic store of $2 trillion of "Treasure," which is now to be used to assist in foreign acquisitions. Those acquisitions are not to be on Wall Street, as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao helpfully explained, but in natural resources, where China can assure itself of exclusive raw materials supplies for decades to come.
But, what if no one wants to buy your products?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Fr Maciel failed to appreciate the need for freedom in religious life, says Dominic Scarborough
(via exLC blog)
Triad members and hired hit-men are on trial over an alleged plot to assassinate two of Hong Kong's most prominent pro-democracy figures. But the real masterminds remain elusive. Beijing, however much it dislikes these guys, can be ruled out - the last thing China's Communist Party wants to do is whip up democratic fervor in Hong Kong by creating martyrs. - Kent Ewing
Monday, July 27, 2009
The bioregional vision: an interview with Kirkpatrick Sale
After some more digging, I found the California State Military Reserve. According to the wiki entry, "The California State Military Reserve is authorized as a state defense force under the provisions of the Title 32, United States Code, Section 109 and the California State Military Reserve Act (codified in the California Military and Veteran's Code)."
The same information is posted on the CSMR's default page. What does the United States Code have to do with the organization of state defense forces? Another example of Federal overreach?
"The California State Military Reserve Provides a trained and disciplined, ready force to the Adjutant General to Support the California Army and Air National Guard and the Joint Staff, serving the Community and the State."
The Los Angeles Mounted Rifles
So a family based on the biological unit of a mother and father is the norm for the creation of children. It appears, then, that the nuclear family emerges as the standard, rooted in nature, representing the norm for the family. Here we need to pause. While it is undeniable that a man and a woman are the necessary elements for the begetting of children, men and women do not exist in solitude prior to their union. They, themselves belong to families. The parents, themselves, were inculcated into a particular set of social traditions mediated by the family into which they were born. When a man and woman join to form the basis of a new nuclear family, they bring with them the stories, memories, habits, customs, practices (as well as the social and genetic anomalies) of their respective families. When the two raise their children, they are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (and busybodies) both alive and dead, that envelopes the family they have initiated.
The nuclear family may be the norm for the simple production of children, but it has not been the norm for their upbringing. In a pre-industrial world where people tended to stay put, extended families created an atmosphere of nurture, care, discipline, advice, meaningful work, as well as stories that provided the narrative context for the lives of each individual. In the west, the intact extended family has largely given way to the transient family that encounters family members outside the nuclear family only at reunions and holidays at the beach. In a mobile age, where leaving home is as easy as calling U-Haul, the nuclear family has come to be seen, by many conservatives, as the ideal. Forgotten is the richly textured world of multi-generational interaction made possible when nuclear families were embedded into the larger structure of the extended family.
The family has not escaped the individualism that pervades our society. The isolated nuclear family, existing as a lonely island on the sea of society, is not the ideal, and it can be seen as a step in the direction of a fully fledged individualism where any unchosen attachment is deemed undesirable. Of course, in particular cases, this sometimes cannot be avoided, but exceptions are different than expectations, and when exceptions become the norm, propriety has been lost.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
IF NOT NOW; WHEN? Duty and Sacrifice in America's Time of Need
Colonel Jack Jacobs (retired)
NPR: Medal Of Honor Recipient Asks: 'If Not Now, When?'
American Valor . Stories of Valor . Jack Jacobs | PBS
Imus Goes to School On Colonel Jack Jacobs « The Imus Times
Col. Jack Jacobs on torture: I got more out of using cigarettes, medical care and food
Rolling to war with too few troops - The Experts - MSNBC.com