Saturday, August 22, 2009

Peter Suderman (Don Draper and the Women Who Love Him) and Whiskey (Mad Men, John Edwards, and the Hotel California) have different responses to Katie Baker's Why the Ladies Love Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men'.

I am more presuaded by Whiskey, who once again defends the late NBC show Life:

What this says, about the writer, is that women of her class, generation, and background have no clue about masculinity, strength, or what indeed makes a man. It's telling that while "Mad Men's" bad-boy in adult clothing, Don Draper, creates a huge fuss among the show's mostly female fans, and the female-dominated media, the example of male strength and compassion in last season's "Life" (with "Band of Brothers" star Damien Lewis) had almost no reaction in either the press or female fans of a similar age and background (late twenties, to mid thirties female professionals). This despite the character being written and acted as a "Man's Man" i.e. one with restraint, power, protectiveness, capable of being gentle and shockingly tough as the situation required, and with an air of mystery and semi-controlled anger underneath his seemingly good-willed charm. Moreover, a character that liked and respected his tough, independent female partner, found few takers among female fans and fewer champions in the feminized media. A failure that is both telling and depressing.

I don't know enough about Mad Men to say, but if it is the case that Don Draper is not entirely confident in himself and his ways, but has doubts and even suffers from a possible identity crisis, is this also part of the attraction to certain woman? A bad boy who may be ready to change, given the right sort of push by circumstances? (Or better yet, a woman who can tame him?)
Kyrie: Orbis Factor by Ensemble Organum
Sanctus Lambertus (Slow Version) Gregorian Chant
Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book

If we are to work on a community level, we’re going to have to use the old community and neighborhood organizing strategies, rather than a series of showings of End of Suburbia or How to Boil a Frog (don’t get me wrong, I really think very highly of these movies). That is, that we are going to have to be able to enlist people at very low levels of commonality, rather than at high levels of education about the future of the world if we’re to get enough bodies on the ground to do what is needed. And that these communities need to be built, well, yesterday.

Mark Hackard, Blackwater “Crusaders”? As If!

Prince is often called a “conservative Catholic” in the various articles and exposés written on his company’s activities. For all of his supposed traditionalism, he must have had a rather elastic interpretation of the Church’s Just War Doctrine to support a U.S. policy of preemptive war and occupation. Prince’s business decisions place him in the camp of neoconservatives such as George Weigel and Michael Novak, Catholics who embrace globalized modernity and advocate armed social engineering abroad to further its spread.

Judging from his actions, Blackwater’s founder adheres to the widely-held belief that the United States is called to redeem the world through democracy and “free markets.” This way of thought finds America to be the grand instrument of God’s will, which curiously conforms to the interests of U.S. policy and financial elites. Many self-proclaimed religious conservatives misguidedly place their faith in an only nominally “Christian” kingdom of this world rather than the Kingdom of God, and assist the triumph of profane materialism. The Blackwater scandal might just seem like a case of life imitating bad art on the level of a Dan Brown novel. But there is a more unsettling tendency at work here—the appropriation of faith and tradition for profoundly anti-traditional and anti-Christian ends. Erik Prince, envisioning his mercenary company as a successor to the Templar order, could create only a deadly counterfeit.

Unwritten CIA Death Contract Awarded to Blackwater
Yesterday I expressed my recognition that I should be learning Spanish; I probably wouldn't affect a Castillian accent in my pronunciation of Spanish... I'd rather mark myself as an outsider, although that should already be apparent from my appearance. Hah.

My first preference would be with Anglo-Celtic-Latin culture (I was reminded recently of a reason--perhaps the most important--why Latin is appended by some. It is because the leadership and the elites received a classical education.) Preference may not be the right word to use. But it is the American culture I feel most at ease with, even though some may not consider me to be a part of it.

However, in many ways I prefer Mexican culture to mainstream Yankee or California culture. (I'd prefer a nice Latina over the typical Uhmerican woman as well.) Undoubtedly there are different forms of Mexican culture, depending on class and region. Do Mexican elites have a good knowledge of high Spanish culture and classical learning? How does [high] Mexican culture compare with other [high] Hispano-American culutres?

I don't like all forms of Mexican music. (And perhaps surprisingly, Mexican pop is not the one I dislike the most.) Lucero was a favorite in the 90s:

Lucero - Te Extraño Tanto (En Concierto Auditorio Nacional)

Lucero - Siempre Contigo (En Concierto Auditorio Nacional)

Lucero - Ya No

Lucero - O Tú O Nada

I got Sarge excited again about going to Mexico or another Latin American country... I think Argentina is one of the safer countries.

The San Jose Mariachi Festival is coming up next month... I'll definitely try to attend again this year.

September 20: Mariachi Day at Children's Discovery Museum
180 Woz Way, San José, CA 95110
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Free admission to a full day of family fun, including mariachi music and dance performances, workshops, arts & crafts and much more. Featuring a special presentation of children's music and Pee Wee Mariachi classes.

Maybe KK would like this:
September 25-26 Mexican Slow Food Cooking Workshops
Mayfair Community Center
2039 Kammerer Ave., San José, CA 95116
Time TBA
Learn how to cook and eat healthy, delicious Mexican food, using locally grown, organic ingredients. Registration opens soon.

The actual free performance is on the 27th.

Related links:
Harvard: Spanish Language Resources
SDSU Library
Spanish Language Exercises
Spanish Language & Culture

Jorge Luis Borges
California Catholic Daily: An Ecumenical Great Books School--To Open This Fall in North San Diego County
Insight Scoop: Ignatius Press has moved!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The American Papist: Huh? Regnum Christi releases CD promoting RC vocations

Mercedes Castro

I listened to part of an interview with her on 100.3 FM this afternoon while driving to see KK and her family. I really should learn Spanish -- this should be a higher priority.

"las divas de la musica ranchera"


Vuelve Gaviota - Mercedes Castro

Mercedes Castro - Ahora Vengo A Verte
Our House Frog Liked Beethoven
Gene Logsdon, Dave Smith

When the hummingbirds run out of sugar water in their feeder right outside our kitchen, one of them flies up to the window and gently bumps it. Doesn’t run into it as if by accident, but hovers right at the pane and deliberately bumps it. The hummer seems to be saying: “The feeder is empty, you dolts. Get with it.” And they never bump the window unless the feeder is empty. They know. How do they know?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dr. Fleming is offering to lead a reading/discussion group for Machiavelli if 10 people sign up and commit.

Google Books:
N. H. Thomson translation of The Prince; Discourses on the first decade of Titus Livius
The History of Florence

Machiavelli on the Net: Individual works online

Thoughts after almost one week with a 2nd grade class

One of the students * has eyes like Hyori, the coveted eyes that turn into half-moons when they are closed. It is the first week of school, but the teacher had to take time off because her mother passed away. Someone I know from another school is now attending this one -- she said her family didn't move, so I am thinking that maybe she had to change schools because of reduction of classes at the old school. It was nice seeing her though, I don't know if I will see her again. I like the Vietnamese students at the school -- they are more endearing that most of the Chinese students I would meet in more affluent school districts.

I've been trying to be more understanding of the boys, and tolerating more of their behavior. It is not easy, when it is ingrained through custom to suppress anything that deviates from a norm established in accordance with what comes easily for girls. Still, we had to practice walking during a fire drill, and some of the boys really can talk when they want to. I do not know if the discipline maintained by the American nuns in the past is the ideal. But without any psychologically and pedagogically sound examples of how boys should be treated as boys, what can one do? (While Legionary schools put boys and girls in separate classrooms, I do not think I would want to take direction from them.)

If there is time tomorrow I should have them write on something... first I need to think of a topic.

*Cyneburg's field
The Incredible Shrinking Boomer Economy
Dave Cohen, ASPO-USA

I am 53 years old, which makes me a post-World War II “Baby Boomer” (those born between 1946 and 1964). First off, I want to issue a blanket apology to younger cohorts (generations X & Y) for the excesses of my generation. No generation in the human history was given so large an opportunity to ravage the Earth through excess consumption, and Boomers did not squander that opportunity. No generation has adversely affected the welfare of future generations as the Boomers have. So much for Woodstock and the Age of Aquarius.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux



Ann Torrini Icon

August 20 is his feast day.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153 by M. Basil Pennington OCSO
Doctors of the Catholic Church

Military Orders
In Praise of the New Knighthood (Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux trans. Conrad Greenia

Apologia for Second Crusade

On Loving God

Crossroads Initiative
Meditation on Christ

Cistercian chant - Dedit Dominus Confessionem Sancto Suo

Cisterciennes Bernardines d'Esquermes

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Worst and the Best Thing to Happen to the Democratic Party in Years


Last fall, I and many progressives urged voters to elect Obama, not because we thought he was a progressive, but because we hoped that his background—community organizer, raised by a single mother, experience living in a third world country (Indonesia), multi-racial—would lead him to make at least some right decisions. We, or certainly I, hoped too that the energized young and working class electorate that came out for him in the fall would continue to press him aggressively to do the right thing on war, environment, civil liberties and the economy.

I was wrong on the first count: Obama has been a corporatist through and through on all the major issues that matter. And I was wrong on the second. Most of the left in the US, from the labor movement to the environmentalist movement to the anti-war movement, has to date remained glumly quiescent as Obama has sold them out on each of their key issues.

But here is the silver lining: The sell-out this time is so much more blatant, and so much more serious, than it was with Clinton, and for all the talk about Obama’s ability to string words together, he is so much less of a charismatic figure than the gregarious Bill Clinton, that he is unlikely to hang on to the ardent support that propelled him to his victory last November. The disappointment and sense of betrayal among progressives this time is palpable, especially because, while Clinton, by 1994, had the excuse that he was working with a Republican, or partially Republican Congress, Obama has solid control of both houses, but refuses to use it. If, as I expect, the recession continues to deepen, with more and more people losing jobs and homes, if, as I predict, health care continues to be unaffordable and inaccessible, and if, as I am equally certain, Iraq explodes and the war in Afghanistan continue to worsen, the left is going to see Obama and the Democrats in Congress as the failures and corrupt frauds they are, and will abandon them.

That's the problem with projecting your expectations unto others, when you know virtually nothing about their character or their true beliefs. The pitfalls of mass "democracy."
Patrick Deneen, Philip Bess’s Pizza


One Mile to Bushy Run Station, by Robert Griffing.

Tonight I went to a dinner the OD had arranged -- when he first suggested it, he asked if I minded if X was present, and I said it would be ok, as long as there no expectations. "Oh yeah, no expectations. Just friends meeting. You know, she's lonely, and we want her to meet more people." But as he became more zealous in arranging it I started to get annoyed, since I didn't think he was taking my point seriously enough. When I confirmed with xiao Jimmy that his wife would not be able to go, he said yes, but that it wasn't important, "Since it is all about you two." He got this idea on his own, so I believed that maybe there was a small chance that the OD saw things differently.

But it turns out that he and his wife (along with their friend from church, who knows x and introduced her), were thinking the same exact thing. Worse, they took the questions I gave to the OD for prospective spouses and suggested that I ask them of X. "Why aren't you talking with her? Now's a good opportunity to ask those questions." The OD's wife said that they were good questions (of course they are), but they seemed to have forgotten that the most important question, the one concerning religion, was also mentioned by me and a likely reason for things being a non-starter.

So I sat there as they tried to egg me on, 4 against 1. As I had arrived early with xiao Jimmy, we waited for everyone else before going in, though I wanted to go ahead and pay and sit down. (Which the OD had suggested.) X was running late, and I was volunteered to wait for her, along with her friend. "Did you pay for her? Why not?"

Later: "Jimmy, don't you think she's nice? See, everyone thinks she's a nice girl. Even if you don't marry her, you can at least still be friends with her."

Afterwards: "Why aren't you walking her to her car?" I was walking with xiao Jimmy and chatting with him...

I think I'm beyond the "be friends first" approach -- it seems rather beta and it's very unclear. Recently I've been quite willing to burn bridges when things don't go anywhere. Why not? Finally coming to a conclusion as to whether to expect friendships with women to attain the same strength as friendships with men has helped quite a bit.

Meanwhile a Mexican girl walked in with her friends and their dates. I couldn't help but notice her.

The OD's church friend is interesting -- she also went to Cal, graduated in '96 with a double major(?) in history and political science. She now practices law, specializing in immigration and personal injury law. Xiao Jimmy thought she was rather attractive, but she is married with one child and expecting another.

I suppose I could have kept up appearances and acted according to their expectations, but acting the way I did tonight (mostly in an embarrassed manner) makes me seem shy but possibly interested. It would have been better to have been civil (which I was, I think) but yet disinterested. I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea or to lead anyone on.

I was embarrassed, annoyed, a bit angry, uncomfortable. I didn't think they were still trying to set me up.

There is this though -- she doesn't mind having guns in the home and she's actually shot a few pistols. The OD's wife pointed out how she likes being with children and is confident in handling them. The OD: "What other questions? The farming one..." He even asked for my phone. I thought he needed to make a phone call and couldn't do it with his phone for some reason. But it turns out that he was just entering her phone number into my phone and calling her, so that she would have my number. (She did save it.) I was dumb, huh, in my interpretation of things?

I doubt I'd call her...
Paul Craig Roberts, Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs
Rorate Caeli: A bombshell of an interview. Mons. Domenico Bartolucci on the liturgical reforms and the reform of the reform. (h/t to Mr. Jeff Culbreath)
Zenit: On St. John Eudes

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Latest Hat Craze: Thin brims, straw trilbies and the ins-and-outs of wearing one (via LRC)

Plus, Token male: the best way to shave your head.
Thomas Fleming on Machiavelli:

By Machiavellian, I did not mean the usual negative interpretation imposed by cynical liars on the great man, but the hard-boiled and truthful realism of Machiavelli, who was the first political thinker really to understand power without being corrupted by it. I would argue that Jefferson’s forthright and honest look at politics, combined with his distrust of self-important elites, make him a worthy disciple of the great Italian republican.
A different evaluation from that by Straussians and Straussian-influenced Catholics?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Sixteen perform works by Handel

Just found this tonight -- less than 2 days left to listen.

Program Notes
Adam Webb, Closing the Circle: An Economy of Values, and Where to Look for It
Transition culture, social tolerance and moral courage: Why permaculture activists must work for human rights and social justice
Lisa Rayner, Energy Bulletin

Human beings are capable of living egalitarian lives without fossil fuels. Many hunter-gatherer societies testify to the fact it is possible, though not inevitable. Human nature includes both cooperative/altruistic and competitive/“us versus them” tendencies. Our empathetic and cooperative tendencies must be consciously cultivated in everyday life if we are to create a non-violent, democratic future without fossil fuels.

A leftist take on things. How many hunter-gather socieities were truly egalitarian, both respect to the relations between men and women and to authority? Very few. I think it is a delusion among those on the left who are working for relocalization that feminism will have any currency in a post-oil and industrial order.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Different views of Mad Men.

(more photos at Yahoo! TV)

That very popular show on AMC. A critique at Taki's Mag. A response and defense of the show at @TAC. And a piece at Whiskey's Place (the author is the same person who categorized shows as being for men or for women).

I've watched maybe one episode of Mad Men on TV. I wasn't really paying attention to what was being said; it didn't really hold my attention. I do find the split in opinion between a contributor to Taki's Mag and the regulars at @TAC to be fascinating, though. What is a traditional conservative to think of the show? (Is it really focused too much on existential questions of identity and purpose? A pointed critique of the "American way of life"?)

More Links:
AMC Blogs
Mad Men Show
Basket of Kisses

Infinitely yours, Seoul.

Just saw this commercial on KBS World. If I had a Korean gf, I'd want to visit Seoul. (There are no fewer than 4 Korean HDTV channels here in the Bay Area. Channel 26 carries two of them -- KBS World and MBCD.

Infinitely yours, Seoul (PAN - TVXQ, SNSD, Super Junior)

Outtakes during the filming of Seoul Commercial! (Girls Generation, TVXQ, Super Junior)

Hi Seoul, Soul of Asia
An old interview from 2004: James Howard Kunstler speaks with Julian Darley (mp3, transcript)

3. What is New Urbanism?

Julian Darley: You’ve covered several of my questions. I was going to lead into what do you think will happen to suburbia, but I think you’ve given us a pretty comprehensive look at that. Is there anything else you want to add to this, and I speak from Canada, which is a gigantic suburb.

JHK: Well I’ve been very active in the New Urbanist movement over the last ten years. It’s really a wonderful movement made up of some of the most hopeful, and competent, and honorable people who I’ve met in my culture. You know, I’m fifty-four years old, and these are in my estimation, just among some of the best of the baby boom generation, you know, people of tremendous skill and ability. And they came along at a time that was kind of crucial. They have been out there in the trenches sedulously trying to reclaim and restore the whole body of knowledge that we threw in the garbage in 1950 – the culture of civic design. Which is that body of skill and principle and knowledge and methodology, which allows us to construct meaningful, sustainable, and rewarding human ecologies namely - towns, villages, cities, farming ecologies, rural landscapes.

All of the conditions that are found on what we in the New Urbanism call the transect of the human habitat: a continuum that goes from the center of the city to the wilderness and all the conditions in between that obtain. And all the knowledge and skill necessary to produce these things has been put back into service by the New Urbanists, because we’re going to need it desperately. It happens to be the antithesis to the anti-city and the anti-human ecology of suburbia.

You know and all of the principles that go into the making of suburbia are not found in the principles of traditional town planning and traditional urban design. So the New Urbanists have been working on this very hard. And I think they’ve also gone to heroic lengths to try to understand what we’re going to do with the existing suburban places. Because of course whatever they represent in the form of a misallocation of resources or a misinvestment, there is still I think an understandable wish to try to do something with them. And I think that some of them indeed can probably be reused and fixed. There are already projects in existence in which, for example, dead shopping malls are being converted into village centers and town centers with mixed-use development: places for people to live, people of different incomes, houses, apartments, places for businesses to do their thing, retail, all mixed together in an integral way so that these places add up to more than the sum of their parts. Which is to say that they come alive as civic organisms, you know, just as you come alive as a human organism because the organs of your life are integrally deployed around your body. You’re more than the sum of liver and the lungs and the bones and the skin and the muscle. In that way, a real human habitat is more than just the sum of its parts.

And the whole idea of suburbia for the last sixty years really has been to dis-aggregate those organic relations between, those integral relations between the civic organs, you know, the organs of the residential organs where we have our houses, and the commercial organs where the shopping happens, and the educational organs where the schools and the museums are, and the cultural organs of the theaters and so on. And under the regime of single use zoning, which was the chief governing principle of suburbia, all these things were separated assiduously, and the separation was reinforced with either large streets or formal buffers that took the form of landscaping fantasias, and things like that.

So the main thing about suburbia was it could only be used and accessed by being in an automobile and that of course is its most obvious drawback and from the standpoint of energy it’s what makes the whole program a complete loser for the future. Because we are now stuck in America with tens of thousands of poorly integrated places that can only be used in cars. With massive amounts of mandatory motoring. We’re literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up.

The New Urbanists have tried heroically as I said to imagine methods and ways of fixing these places. I think the general point of view among us is that you can do a certain amount of this with malls and some of the commercial stuff. You can retrofit them, you can in-fill the parking lots you can create streets and blocks and eventually even remove the mall buildings and change them out with real urban fabric. But the suburban residential cul-de-sac subdivisions do not offer a whole lot of hope, and I haven’t seen one example of anyone who’s been able to come up with a scheme for retro-fitting them for the future. So I imagine they’ll be the slums of the future. My image of it is that where there is now one software engineer living in a McMansion outside of Atlanta, eleven years from now there will be twelve families living in that building growing Swiss chard where the lawn used to be. And it’s kind of a sad and tragic and hopeless and pitiful picture of the future.
Peak energy and cultural fragmentation
Damien Perrotin, The View from Brittany

Last week, I went to Paimpol with my girlfriend to attend the Sailor Songs Festival...As we were strolling along the wharves amidst a joyful crowd, she told me me “we're no longer in France”. The fact that the greater part of what makes the region so un-french is fairly recent does not make her remark less pertinent. In fact it makes it even more so as it highlights a particularly important factor in the coming energy descent : cultural differentiation.

Sara and Sean Watkins "Lord Won't You Help Me" 6-11-09
Συναυλία Βυζαντινής Μουσικής 29 Μαΐου 2/5 new

Συναυλία Βυζαντινής Μουσικής 29 Μαΐου 3/5 - Φώς ιλαρόν

βυζαντινή μουσική Αγιο όρος π. Καβαρνός

When Christ becomes everything - Όταν τα πάντα γίνουν Χριστός (Part 1/9)
King of The Guayabera