Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm travelling to Arizona for a few days to visit relatives. Be back on Monday!
A follow up to this post from around the same time last year.

The power of pink

The 'pinkification' of little girls – their clothes, their bedrooms, their toys – is a very recent phenomenon. So why did the launch this month of a campaign against the colour's dominance cause such uproar?
The campaign, PinkStinks, started out with the aim of offering girls positive alternative role models, says Emma, "women who do amazing things. Scientists and sportswomen and musicians and businesswomen and activists." Trying to reverse the seemingly unstoppable tide of pink was simply another way, they felt, of challenging what they saw as rampant and unacceptable gender stereotyping, from earliest childhood.
The imposition of color preferences seems to be arbitary, but it's the feminist deconstructionism that is the real danger to children. Children may choose a certain color because of certain associations; they may also reject it because it is known to be the preferred by members of the other sex. One does not have to be a cultural Marxist to acknowledge this. However, just as physical differences provide the matter for deeper differences between the sexes, so awareness of physical difference is the foundation of identity-formation; learning the virtues proper to one's sex is grounded upon this awareness of what one is. Those boys and girls who are outliers should undoubtedly be given careful attention so that they do not reject their sexual identity completely.

Only dualists and gnostics believe that the soul (or mind) can be completely severed from the body. The spiritual nature of the soul leads many to believe that its flexibility, potentiality, and universality can be extended to the body as well, when plainly this is not the case.

Feminists are definitely committed to their cause, seeking to extend their worldview where possible. Meanwhile they are miserable living in conformity with their beliefs, or find happiness by being hypocrites.

The website PinkStinks.
Male Choral Music CD recordings
I finally saw the video of the attack on the pope. Why does security seem so slow? Was there no bodyguard right next to the Holy Father? It didn't seem like it. It's amazing that no one's been able to seriously injure him up to this point, given the state of his personal security.

Some have complained that the cult of personality that exists during liturgies and other events is even more shocking or lamentable, but given the prominence given to the Holy Father as celebrant, can anything else be expected? Especially if the liturgy still seems to be clericalist, at least with respect to the procession. It may be impossible to restore the procession of all tlhe faithful into the church before the beginning of the liturgy, at St. Peter's or anywhere else, but what can be done to remind the people that it is Christ Himself who is present to act during the divine liturgy, and that the person of the priest celebrating the liturgy is of secondary importance?

There are problems with huge gatherings for the celebration of the liturgy, even within a church or cathedral or basilica, at least within the Roman rite.
JMG, Immodest Proposals

One word of caution, though: readers expecting me to offer them a ticket to Utopia are going to be disappointed. There’s a common notion that everything that’s wrong in the world is the fault of the institutions or personalities officially in charge, and can be fixed by replacing them with some other set of institutions or personalities. That notion has been tested more thoroughly by history than any other hypothesis I can think of in the social sciences, and it’s failed abjectly every time. Maybe we should finally get around to admitting that people will not behave like angels no matter how (or whether) they are governed, or who (if anyone) does the governing; and, in the process, admit that human beings are incurably human – that is, capable of the full spectrum of good and evil all by themselves – rather than moral puppets who can be expected to dance on command to the tune of a good or evil system.

It’s easy to come up with a perfect system of human society, so long as it doesn’t have to work in the real world, and it’s very easy to compare a perfect system on paper to the failings of a system in the real world, to the latter’s detriment. Nearly always, though, what John Kenneth Galbraith said about innovation in finance is just as true of innovation in political and social institutions: what gets ballyhooed as new and revolutionary thinking is normally the repetition of a fairly small set of fallacies that worked very poorly the last dozen or so times they were tried, and will work just as poorly this time, too. Those systems that function at all are fairly few in number, though there are a lot of minor variations on the basic themes, and the ones we’ve got now – representative democracy in politics, a market system in economics – have certain advantages. Though the current examples are troubled, corrupt, and at very high risk of being overwhelmed by the consequences of some very bad decisions made over the last few decades, the basic systems are noticeably less dysfunctional most of the time than most of the alternatives.
Eliminate the Senate

Recall, please, how the Senate was designed in the Constitution. If you want efficiency and quick turn around in governance and legislation, you want a very different system. Clog and delay were built in from the get go -- quite consciously. Guaranteeing minority rights was a central tenet of the design – as it is of democracy.

The filibuster is merely one of a thousand ways a small number of senators, even just one, can clog the system. Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate was never intended to operate by majority rule; it was designed to operate by “unanimous consent.” That means, as we observed during the endless non-debate of the health care bill, that one senator can demand that the entire text of any bill or amendment must be read aloud – word by audible word – if one member simply utters the words “I object” at the appropriate moment. It also means that nominations, even bills, can be held up for days, weeks, even months before a majority leader tries to start what passes for debate in the Senate these days. And, it means any and all committee hearings must be shut down any time the Senate is in session – and a senator objects. The Senate rules are an almost endless opportunity for mischief, or worse, for any member or faction wanting to play the role – just like the racist Southern Democrats did in the 1960s when they stood, insistently and almost endlessly, in the way of civil rights bills.

The way the Senate operates also means that any senator with the brains and guts to hamstring George W. Bush’s blustering the country into war in October, 2002 could have done so. (But alas, there was no such senator.) It is a system designed, for good or ill, to permit a minority – sometimes tiny – to interpose itself, as obnoxiously or as honorably as they may choose.

Eliminate all that, and what do you get? You get the House of Representatives. If you want to fix the gridlock problem in Congress and fix it good, the best thing to do is to eliminate the Senate.

It’s a bad idea if you like democracy. As designed, the Senate has an important role: cooling the heels of excess, either from an overreaching executive or the House where the majority can run any tyranny it pleases.

The Senate is also supposed to serve the intersts of the states, and not of political parties, no?
Lining Up for the Wall Street Gravy Train
Hope, hopelessness and faith
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights

I see this as a good complement to Dr. Fleming's latest and my thoughts yesterday...
From Catherine Austin Fitts: Directed Energy Weapons

Dawn Beaton vids

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some video of Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Jamestown in 2007: Virginia's Royal Welcome.
Patrick Deneen, New World Order
I was thinking a bit about Dr. Fleming's latest; the sort of advice he gives has been criticized by others, such as Lydia McGrew over at WWWTW. One can fret about the poor decisions being made by our rulers, but at some point one must realize that there is little one can really do to change the way things are going through politickin'. There's little that can be done locally, at least for me, because too many people are set in bad habits that are reinforced by bad passions. Focusing on the good that one can do, in the love of God and neighbor, seems to be the right sort of approach.

Some posts on Yasujiro Ozu

An Autumn Afternoon: Ozu's Diaries - From the Current
Ozu's Angry Women : A website dedicated to Ozu Yasujiro

See also Setsuko Hara.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TJF, Establishing Christian America

Given the diverse origins of those who settled the colonies and the relatively easy mobility of Americans once settled, along with the low threshold for the formation of communities, could a fragmented religious identity have been avoided?

Conservative Christians are right to complain that they are being persecuted by the government, and I do not have a solution to this grave problem except to suggest that they are wasting their time in trying to change the laws. Instead, they might consider the example of early Christians living under the pagan Roman Empire. Most Christians paid their taxes to Caesar, served in Caesar’s army, and were good neighbors and loyal citizens of Caesar’s empire. They did not engage in futile protests about infanticide, nor did they abuse and insult their pagan neighbors. They minded their own business, went to church, and prayed for the empire’s conversion. If today’s American Christians had the faith of a mustard seed, they would spurn the false prophets who have enslaved them to a party or political ideology and go about their Master’s business.

This is an older piece meant to accompany this article: Churchless States and Stateless Churches I.

UND Press is publishing a book by Jonathan Riley-Smith

Templars and Hospitallers as Professed Religious in the Holy Land
Jonathan Riley-Smith

Crusades Encyclopedia profile
Rethinking the Crusades | Jonathan Riley-Smith
The Venetian Crusade of 1122-1124 (pdf)
The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam

See also Interview with Rodney Stark. (Professor Stark's page.) He is the author of God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades.
Erin Manning links to and discusses this piece by Paul T. McCain: Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal.

Is that lying?

Pius XII's real wartime record: Friend to the Jews By GARY L. KRUPP (via VFR)

It is unquestionable that Pius XII intervened to save countless Jews at a time most nations--even FDR's America--refused to accept these refugees. He issued false baptismal papers and obtained visas for them to emigrate as "Non Aryan Catholic-Jews." He smuggled Jews into the Americas and Asia. He ordered the lifting of cloister for men and women to enter monasteries, convents and churches to hide 7,000 Jews of Rome in a single day.
So is the issuing of false documents an instance of lying or not?
Krugman's Health Care Sell-Out By DAVE LINDORFF

Certainly the Senate bill, and the only slightly less cruddy House version, with which it must be reconciled (let’s be clear here that the ultimate act, when passed, will much more closely hew to the Senate version than the House version, given the number of conservative Democrats in the Senate), does a few good things, such as increasing funding for community health clinics, expanding Medicaid, the health insurance system for the poor, and banning the current insurance industry practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. But these small positive steps pale in comparison to the truly noxious things this bill does, and the things it fails to do.

The most outrageous thing the health “reform” bill does is further consolidate the death grip that the insurance industry has over health care access and delivery in America. It does this by mandating that everyone buy health insurance, on pain of being slapped with a heavy fine by the IRS. Since most of the 47 million Americans without health insurance are younger and healthier than average, what this measure does is hand the private insurance industry a huge captive customer population who will be stuck with high-cost, low-benefit insurance that will generate huge profits for the industry. The industry will be further enriched by nearly half a trillion dollars in subsidies needed to help low-income people or small businesses buy their mandated health insurance--subsidies which will end up going directly to insurance companies, which will be offering in return wretched bare-bones plans that will only cover some 60% of actual medical costs.

Supporters say that mandating that everyone have health insurance is akin to mandating that every driver of a car buy liability insurance, but there actually is a huge difference. Driving is a matter of choice. If a person doesn’t want to buy car insurance, she or he can decide not to own a car. That reality at least forces auto insurers to compete in offering low-cost minimal insurance plans. Nobody can decide not to buy health insurance under this plan though. It is a historic first: a law requiring American citizens to buy a service from a private company.

Adding insult to injury, the bill does almost nothing to limit costs. This is why doctors, hospital and drug companies and the insurance industry, all of which spend millions of dollars lobbying for this law, love it (health insurance company shares jumped on word of Senate passage). Indeed, the government’s own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), predicts that the law, if enacted, will cause US health care costs--already the highest in the world on a per capita basis and as a share of GDP by a factor of almost two--to rise faster than ever. Furthermore, to keep the projected costs of this bill at an alleged $871 billion over ten years, a huge amount of money is stolen from important existing programs, including $43 billion from payments to safety-net hospitals (mostly public institutions in urban centers which serve poor populations), and from cuts in Medicare funding that could for the first time lead significant numbers of physicians to stop seeing elderly patients on Medicare.

The reform plan is terrible for other important reasons too. In order to sell it to one lone hold-out Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Senate leaders allowed strict limits to be put into the bill making it almost impossible for low-income women or families to buy insurance that includes payments for abortions. The bill also undermines trade unions by taxing, at a rate of as much as 40%, those health plans which, through years of negotiations, offered quality care to workers. As the group Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) points out, group health insurance costs are also largely driven by geographical and demographic considerations, and thus this penalty tax actually targets workplaces that employ more women, or that have older workers, or which are located in higher-cost regions such as New York or California.

But surely the worst thing about this bill is that far from putting the US on a course towards some eventual humane national health system like those that exist in the rest of the developed world, and even in many countries in the less developed world, it actually locks in the power of the insurance industry even more solidly, making achieving true health reform an even more difficult challenge than it has been.
Interestingly enough, the ACLU blog published one of Daniel Larison's pieces last year -- I don't know if it's published anything else by him since then: Daniel Larison: On the Necessity of an Irrational Enemy.

Nonetheless while doing a search for his explanation of nationalism as a left-wing phenomenon (and it is), and not "right-wing," I was reminded that the internet is pretty much useless for fostering the search for truth.
AoM: A Man and the Sports Jacket: A Tailored Suit’s Sports Jacket Giveaway

The constitutional question for the American colonies

I read something the other day at Border's that seems to have laid it out clearly. (It was in Crocker's PIG book dealing with the Civil War.) Were the colonies sovereign states, or were they colonies with a colonial charter, with ultimate sovereignty belonging to the Parliament? The question may seem to have a straightforward answer, but

Does positive law destroy any claim that there is a natural "right" to secession? Is a colony different in nature from an independent polity? On what grounds can the claims of the sovereign power by nullified? When can sovereignty or authority be lost? Is a colony bound to perpetual submission and obedience? What are the "legal" means for establishing independence? Is the only valid way through obtaining permission from the sovereign authority?

One could argue that the claim of sovereignty is invalidated when the sovereign power acts unjustly, or against the common good of the colony. What if it is an unreasonable extension of power? The principle of subsidiarity could come into play here -- decisions-making should be done in the colony as much as possible. (It would seem that some were content to accept this, with Parliament having ultimate sovereignty but exercising it only in certain matters.)

But do the virtuous have a right to rule that should not be denied?
AP: Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins split after 23 years

Will these two well-known Hollywood liberals, who despise traditional culture, rationalize their inability to stay together? "We just moved to different places in our lives," or some other feel-good, self-actualizing garbage?
California Center for Cooperative Development
Jacob Hornberger, Losing the Bill of Rights

Monday, December 28, 2009

Confronted with a denial that the Nazis were a right-wing movement (rather, they were on the left), and told to get an education, what does a feminist do? She appeals to the degree that she holds. Someone could learn a thing or two from Socrates concerning knowledge and ignorance. But he's another white male defender of the the patriarchy, isn't he?
Welmer, Eddie Bauer: From Manly Store to Bankruptcy
Hawaiian Libertarian: Obama Has Subverted Our 4th Amendment Rights
Vatican honors Wyoming prof with rare prize

Some honesty from the writers working for the BBC?

*spoiler warning*

In the series 8 finale of Spooks, Ros and Lucas have to evacuate the Home Secretary and the Pakistani president to safety, after a bomb is found in the hotel in which talks between India and Pakistan are being held. Both the Home Secretary and the Pakistani president have been paralyzed by drugs, so the MI5 agents have to carry them out. Ros admits that she is weaker, and tells Lucas that he must bring the Pakistani president to safety first, since if he dies, war will ensue between India and Pakistan. Ros is left behind to struggle with carrying the Home Secretary.

A female agent is having problems carrying her principal to safety? When she is regularly tasked with protection detail? How many women are physically capable of bringing an adult male to safety, even if they are just dragging him (as it is required in firefighter and LEO physical fitness exams)? And if dragging is too slow, and danger requires a faster evacuation, can they do a one-man carry?

Not the straw that broke the camel's back...

But getting close?

From a comment at JHK's blog: California Gun Law ~ Fingerprints Required To Buy Ammo
The law also bans the purchase of ammo via mail order or through the internet.
CA Bill Documents
Peter Hitchens asks some questions in light of the most recent attempt at an airplane bombing: Flailing Panic in the Air.
James Howard Kunstler provides some end-of-the-year commentary, along with predictions for the next year.

Even with somewhat lower oil prices in 2009, the airlines still hemorrhaged losses in the billions, and if the oil price remains in the current zone some of them will fall back into bankruptcy in 2010. Oil prices may go down again in response to crippled economies, but then so will passengers looking to fly anywhere, especially the business fliers that the airlines have depended on to fill the higher-priced seats. I believe United will be the first one to go down in 2010, a hateful moron of a company that deserves to die.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I wanted to log this before I forget...

One of the second graders (KP) came up to me and asked me if I was married. I told her no, and she asked why not. "Mr. ----, you should marry a pretty girl." I had to laugh at that.

Even more reason to hate the new Who

If you're a Doctor Who fan and haven't seen the first part of the David Tennant's finale and don't want spoilers, stop reading now.

I saw the trailer and a scene from part 2. The classic series may have been meant for children, but it wasn't so dumbed down that adults couldn't enjoy it, and the villains could be serious, the moral questions deep. People defend Russell T. Davies, because he is the man who brought back the show, but I would rather there be no show, then for it to be so adulterated and childish. Modifying the show so that it appeals to the young, given the state of the young these days, is guaranteed to make it bad, even if a few episodes here and there are actually quite good.

We see the return of the Time Lords in part 1; if you watch the exclusive scene, it turns out they are not from a period after the end of the Time War, but right before it -- right before they are killed off by the Doctor. The Lord President is holding on to life, and is very tyrannical, openly killing those who oppose him. Gone are the days when political opponents were eliminated through subterfuge and deceit and perhaps behind-the-scenes murder. Instead the Time Lords seem to have become like their enemies, the daleks. This may have made for an interesting story, stretched out for a season or two -- the descent of the Time Lords into wickedness or madness, but this is not the route RTD decided to take. Instead everything is crammed into an hour, and I am going to guess that story development will suffer. The fall of the Time Lords will not be taken seriously as a moral lesson. (What we could learn from an empire's death, which it hastens by hanging on to power too long!) Instead, we will have an over-the-top villain with whom we cannot sympathize -- he's just a madman.

I never thought the Time Lords should have been done away with, at least not permanently, and bringing Paul McGann back to do a series or two on the Time War would have been a gift to the fans. They could also have taken the series to Gallifrey, brought back Romana, and so on -- too much time spent on Earth can be a waste, especially if it is contemporary Earth and none of its problems are taken seriously. (This is supposed to be science fiction, not a soap opera.)

As I've said before, this all could have been handled much better -- I suppose it will have to be left to those who write fan fiction and Doctor Who novels.