Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bradley C. S. Watson, Creed & Culture in the American Founding

An example of the liberal (and Straussian), as opposed to the republican, understanding of the American founding.

More about the author.

Dmitry Orlov, Products and services for the permanently unemployed consumer

Products and services for the permanently unemployed consumer
Dmitry Orlov, ClubOrlov
As a matter of public policy, it would make perfect sense to provide seed money for what is bound to become a new high-growth industry segment: serving the needs of the permanently unemployed.


Jamie Oliver wins prestigious TED prize

Jamie Oliver wins prestigious TED prize.

via Rod Dreher:
Impossible Farming
Gene Logsdon, The Contrary Farmer
There is Successful Farming, Progressive Farming, Organic Farming, Natural Farming and an awful lot of Wishful Farming. I would like to add to the list one more kind: Impossible Farming.

Zenit: Chinese Religious Leaders Make New Year ResolutionPromise Cooperation for a Better World


The Lunar New Year is also bringing the local Church a lesson on inculturation.

Since Ash Wednesday this year falls on the fourth day of the Lunar New Year (Feb. 17), the Church of Hong Kong dispensed the faithful from fasting and abstinence that day. However, they are obliged to choose some other suitable forms of penance or perform some works of charity, in keeping with the penitential spirit of the season of Lent.

Taking into account the Lunar New Year festivities, the rite of the giving of ashes in Hong Kong may also be postponed to Feb. 24 (during Mass) or Feb. 26 (during Stations of the Cross).

Twitch: Poster and Stills O'Plenty for IP MAN 2

Friday, February 12, 2010

Paraclete Press: The Sign of the Cross: The Gesture, the Mystery, the History by Andreas Andreopoulos
via Ite Ad Thomam:

NLM: Our Lady of the Annunciation in Clear Creek Elevated to an Abbey

Clear Creek Monks
AP: IOC confirms Olympic luger dies after crash

Was it worth it?
Trying to teach children to write before they have fine motor control seems counterproductive. How does Montessori handle it? Learning to Write is Something All Children Have to Do Even Thought the Pencil is Being Replaced by a Keyboard.

The Montessori Method

The late Qing reformers

I learned about them in my Chinese history class -- I'll have to refresh my memory and post something about their reform efforts, in the light of subsequent developments in China.

Kang Youwei - A Prominent Political Thinker and Reformer
Tan Sitong's 'Misty Room'
Tan Sitong Memorial Hall
Local Self-Government in Late Qing

The Western Confucian: The End of the Ch'ing Dynasty

Chosun Ilbo: Actress Yoon Son-ha speaks after being appointed promotional ambassador for traditional Korean liquor in Seoul on Wednesday.
Found this while doing a search for MMA fighters:

Female MMA Fighter Chokes Out Reporter - Watch more Funny Videos

Walmart a force for positive change and relocalization?

Rod Dreher: Wal-mart, friend to local farmers. Really!

Corby Kummer, The Great Grocery Smackdown

Can Walmart survive the post-carbon transition?

Slow Food San Francisco

More by Corby Kummer:
Slow Food, High Gear - The Atlantic (January/February 2008)
The Atlantic Food Channel: Corby's Fresh Feeds

The Pleasures of Slow Food (GB)
Building a Slow Food Nation (1 or 2)
Slow Food Nation | Videos

I thought I recognized his face--he was in an episode of The Chopping Block.

Monastery of St. Anthony of the Desert



NLM: Oldest Christian Monastery Completes Renovations
Monastery of St. Anthony completes extensive restoration
Byzantine, Texas posts this video:


Egyptology News: Restoration: St Antony's Monastery, Eastern Desert

Saint Antony Coptic Orthodox Monastery (California)
St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona (Greek Orthodox)

Is graduate school a scam?

Matt Feeney, Is The PhD Trap a Trap? (I)

A response to The Big Lie About the 'Life of the Mind' by Thomas H. Benton.

The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Both sides make their points, but if the economy is going to implode does it really matter? Universities will have to cut back, if they can even be sustained.

It looks like there will be a second part to Mr. Feeney's response.

Thomas Bertonneau's series on literacy and reason

A three-part series by Thomas Bertonneau:
Can't Read, Can't Watch, Can't Comprehend. Today's post-literate students don't read movies any better than they read books.

Literacy Lost. University faculty are finally noticing that college students don’t read very well, but Neil Postman and Jacques Ellul saw it years ago.

Forget U. Tradition depends on memory, but modern culture depends on forgetting.

(via the Thinking Housewife)

Peak Oil Hausfrau, Infrastructure: Priorities and painful decisions

Infrastructure: Priorities and painful decisions
Christine Patton, Peak Oil Hausfrau
When cheap energy reigned, we built acres of infrastructure throughout the United States, without giving too much thought to the energy, materials, and money that we would need to maintain and operate these constructions. The crumbling of this legacy of infrastructure is one of the many day-to-day living problems that we face over the next fifty to a hundred years.


I would suggest that as part of our powering-down and transition projects, we include the following activities:
- Acknowledge and quantify the amounts of energy, materials, and knowledge that we need to maintain our current infrastructural systems,
- Identify key points of weakness, and system dependencies,
- Create realistic projections for maintenance costs and available budget, taking into account reductions of key inputs such as energy, oil, water, etc;
- Prioritize systems in order of necessity (health and safety) as well as potential for disaster,
- Re-design maintenance of key systems to reduce expense and ecological impact, while increasing longevity and flexibility,
- Find ways to re-organize as many systems as possible in cheaper, and more sustainable, resilient, and localized ways, and
- Find ways to mothball or power down systems that will no longer be cost and material-efficient to maintain and/or which could create harm if left to disintegrate on their own - if left to reach the point(s) of no return while still in operation.

Tom Philpott, Tracking U.S. farmers’ supply of nitrogen fertilizer

Tracking U.S. farmers’ supply of nitrogen fertilizer
Tom Philpott, Grist
We burn through more of it per capita than any other country; and our appetite for it can only be sated with massive imports. No, not oil--I'm talking about nitrogen fertilizer. With only 5 percent of the world population, the U.S. consumes nearly 12 percent of the globe's annual synthetic nitrogen fertilizer production. And we're producing less and less of it at home--meaning that, as with petroleum, we're increasingly dependent on other nations for this key crop nutrient.


Damien Perrotin, Family Values

Family values
Damien Perrotin, The View from Brittany
Every debate has its blind spots and the one about community in peak oil circles is no exception. It is fascinating to see how little discussion there is about what is, after all, the most basic community in all human society : family. There are, of course, good reasons for that. Few among us have any sympathy for the family values crowd, a species unfortunately every bit as widespread and nefarious on this side of the Atlantic as on the other one and we certainly don't want to be put in the same basket as they. This is however unfortunate, for, no matter how polluted it is by religious non-issues, the family question and its evolution is of the foremost importance if we want to make sense of the post-peak world.


As I said in this post, liberals who promote relocalization and defend the family as the basic unit of society will do so in their moral framework and sanction all sort of organizations, citing various examples taken from all over the world to back up their stance. Here we see Mr. Perrotin using the example of the Mosuo -- he does claim that it is an example of a functional matriarchal society, but he's wrong. But don't let facts get in the way of promoting radical egalitarianism. Still, since he is in France I don't have to worry about forming a sort of alliance with him -- the French agrarian traddies do. He is just one spokesman; how much influence would he have in a deindustrialized society?

If resources are limited and one part of a community perceives that it is sharing an unjust burden in order to placate the other part's demands for just treatment how long can such a community last? (I am thinking of claims by "alternate" families for government support and so on.) Even if decentralization does take place, liberals may still demand the complete suppression of Christianity and traditional Western morality. Will Christians remain the passive sheep that they've become? Or will they resist?

Lizhou in Fremont

We went to Lizhou a couple of weeks ago -- it's decent and the portions are good for the price. I'd go there again, but I need to find out how to avoid a food coma afterwards. I'm still not sure what the cause of that is -- too many carbs?

Counterpunch updates

A lot of good articles with the weekend edition:

The Economic Velociraptors By ANDREW COCKBURN
"We Don't Want a Bunch of Angry Teamsters Showing Up at Our Doors!"

The Goat in the Clearing By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Government of Lawyers Spit on Law By SAUL LANDAU
Assassination, Inc.

A Pitiless, Punitive Giant By FRAN SHOR
Dumb Power in the Af-Pak War

Greece Signs Its National Suicide Pact By MARSHALL AUERBACK
The High Priests of Fiscal Rectitude Win Again

Health Insurance Death Spiral By JOSEPH SHER
What the Blue Cross Rate Hike Really Means

Empire of the Sunset By RANDALL AMSTER
The Point of No Return

Obama's Drug War Budget By BILL PIPER
Looking a Lot Like Bush's

How Blackwater Built Morale By MISSY BEATTIE
Strippers, Prostitutes and Murder

Fr. Z on the Consilium and Wyoming Catholic College

Fr. Z: The Consilium revisited. He also blogs about his trip to Wyoming Catholic College.

Centurion trailer


The Ninth Legion gets wiped out rather quickly in this movie. I'd rather see some more action with the Ninth Legion. Or, better yet, a movie about the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

Still, I'd prefer this over the new Spartacus, that 300/Rome ripoff.

Coming Soon

Related links:
Wiki: Legion IX Hispana
Legio VIIII Hispana
What Really Happened To The Roman Ninth Legion? | Heritage Key
Roman Legions in Britain

Top Roman Military Defeats
Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest
The battle in the Teutoburg Forest
The Roman Legion vs The Germanic Tribes, Battle of the Teutoburg Video
Arminius and the Battle of Teutoburg Forest
This Day in History: Rome's Defeat in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest
PJB, Secession in the Air

Chosun Ilbo: Children learn how to bow to their elders at a kindergarten in Daejeon on Thursday, ahead of the Lunar New Year.

One of my mother's friends from church had a plan to start an orphanage. Is he any closer to realizing it? I think helping at an orphanage (that "homeschooled") would be much better than working as a public school teacher. I have very little faith in the present; I'd rather invest in the future.
Daniel Larison, Implications Of February 11
Truth, Lies, and the Abstinence Study: Right Again! By Mary Eberstadt

It is unfortunate that we have to argue for people doing the right thing based on consequences of a policy and not on the principle. In the long-term is this self-defeating? One assumes that those who are participating in abstinence educating at least are given reasons for being chaste other than not getting a STD or becoming pregnant.
The Catholic Thing: Oprah and the Dominicans
By Joan Frawley Desmond

I forced myself to endure Oprah in order to watch that episode with the Dominican sisters. I think the sisters handled it rather well, given the format of the show, and I liked watching the short clip of compline.

The American Papist: Today: The Sisters’ big day on Oprah!

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The Daily Dish: Restrepo

The movie is a documentary, so it can't be too Hollywood; right, Sarge?

Should chivalry be preserved or revived?

Many men, especially those inclined towards advocating becoming a PUA as a strategy to combat feminism or those who practice it, think that chivalry should stay dead, since being chivalrous is self-defeating in the face of feminism. (See some of the commentators at The Spearhead and PUA blogs.) It is believed that male deference to women, when women fail to respect men, is what allowed feminism to take hold in the first place, and that continued chivalry only reinforces

Some believe that chivalry is caused by wrong ideas about women and their virtuousness. Those who are chivalrous are such because they think women are the superior sex when it comes to all of morality. Christians and others who believe in chivalry are accused of putting women on a pedestal when they are undeserving of this exaltation.

Actually, isn't chivalry first about showing respect to the physically weaker sex?
I understand chivalry to be rooted in what it means to be a Christian man and husband. It is not separated from patriarchal authority, but it does involve service to others. The chivalrous man recognizes his power over women, which is not to be abused. Instead he is to be humble in the service to others.

As for its link to courtly love/romance -- there probably is one, but maybe we can distinguish the Christian ideal from the romantic ideal. Even then, the romantic ideal may not be so misandrist as some would think. (I have to read Dennis De Rougement's Love in the Western World (GB).)

Is being chivalrous compatible with being or acting like an "alpha"? Perhaps, though I am not sure since I don't consider myself an alpha, like the PUA bloggers. If we think of alpha males as being detached, confident, assertive, steadfast, and so on -- it depends on the situation. How a gentleman treats women in general may differ from how he treats the object of his courtship. The chivalrous man may share some qualities in common with the alpha or the PUA, but not others. Being chivalrous does not mean that a man is passive or fails to take the initiative.

Despite their stated desire for a man to be chivalrous, do women perceive it as weakness? Or is it an indication to them that a man is willing to be their tool or "slave" (even if they are incorrect in this assessment)?

Being chivalrous may be appropriate (or required) in certain parts of the country (like the South) and easy; but what about in urban or suburban California? Some men might ask: even if one should show respect to a lady, who is to be considered a lady, when women in certain areas are more likely to not reciprocate that sort of respect and in fact are enemies of men and traditional morals? It would be more appropriate for men to be indifferent, or to treat them the same as men and expect them to "pull their weight"? At the very least by treating women no differently from men, women may learn not to take men for granted. (This is close to the extreme strategy adopted by some men of avoiding women entirely.)

I think those who wish to practice chivalry should continue doing so, as a witness to what society can be like and to be a complete gentleman. That is to say, it would be a part of showing the proper respect to others, particularly the old, the infirm, and so on. Just because he is a gentleman though, a Christian should not allow himself to be a doormat for women, nor should he accept any sort of abuse. There is a difference between being a gentleman and being needy or desperate for a relationship.

(If his politeness is not appreciated by women, should a gentleman take consolation in the fact that he has virtue and is doing what is correct?)

On the other hand, chivalry does not seem to be demanded by justice (in contrast with showing respect to the aged), nor is it required by charity. It seems to be more of a convention that aids men in the acquisition of other virtues and teaches them to treat women well.

However, chivalry may be required of men by distributive justice -- that is to say that since they are stronger women, then it is proper for them to have more of the burden with respect to physical labor. But, this is only one aspect of chivalry. What of the other aspects? Can they be distinguished from general politeness and consideration?

Started on 2/3/10.

Edit. 2/12/10
For the latest occasion of backlash against "chivalry," see this post.
NLM: EWTN Programming Note: FSSP North American Seminary Chapel:

DENTON, Nebraska – February 1st , 2010 – On Wednesday night, February 24th, EWTN favorite, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, will be interviewing two members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Father Calvin Goodwin and Deacon Rhone Lillard.

The topic of the interview will be the Pontifical Consecration of the Fraternity's newly built chapel at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary which EWTN is televising live on Wednesday, March 3rd at 11:00am (EST). His Excellency, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska , will celebrate the Pontifical Consecration and Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The ancient ceremony will be in the presence of William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Joining Cardinal Levada, will be several bishops from around the United States.

Watch EWTN Live online on Wednesday, February 24th at 8:00PM (EST)!
NLM: Thomas More College Commissions and Installs Mediaeval Italian Style Crucifix for College Chapel
Rod Dreher: Modernity and seeing through a glass, darkly

In the passage I read last night, Taylor discusses the fundamental psychological shift that occurred with modernity, and how it orients us toward questions of religion (remember that the mission Taylor sets for himself in the book is to discuss how and why secularism rose in the West, and its implications for us today). In the pre-modern world, he writes, people saw the material world as charged with spiritual energy, and personality. Pagans saw spirits, and spiritual power, inhering in Nature, and in particular places. Christians retained many of those beliefs, though transferring much of that way of seeing the world to saints and relics, while still believing in evil spirits as actual entities which could bring harm to one. For the individual, Taylor writes, the boundary between a person and this spiritualized world was porous; absent God, the self had little protection from the spiritual forces in the world that threatened the self's integrity and well-being. For pre-moderns, says Taylor, to reject God would not mean to reject the reality of these spiritual forces; rather, it would mean rejecting the only hope one had that Good would ultimately triumph over the forces of chaos and evil.

This is a critically important point: to reject God did not mean rejecting the supernatural; it meant rejecting the best hope the individual had of protecting oneself from it. So most people found this literally unthinkable.

Human consciousness became modern, he writes, when the natural world became "disenchanted" -- that is, when man began to think of the world outside his own mind as spiritually inert, and having only the meaning we impute to it with our own minds. This, says Taylor, "buffers" the mind, putting a layer of protection between the individual and the outside world. It becomes less terrifying. It's the equivalent of saying, "There's no such thing as ghosts" -- and believing it as the truth. The disenchantment of the world ushered in Protestantism, and in turn secularism. You can see the logic. Closing the Taylor book and turning my lamp off last night, I thought that there really is no way to reconcile the African Anglicans with their UK and American counterparts; both live on completely opposite sides of the divide between modernity and pre-modernity.

The thing is, all of us in the West, believers included, live on one side of that divide, whether we want to or not. What I mean to say is that even though I, as an Orthodox Christian, plainly espouse a pre-modern belief system, the psychological and cultural environment that shaped me, and in which I live and breathe is modern and secular. As Taylor points out, this comes so natural to all us Westerners that it's hard to grasp how unusual this is in human experience, and how constructed it is.

Assuming that this is an accurate representation of Taylor, does Taylor sufficiently distinguish Faith from superstition from folk ignorance of nature? Can we really divide history into premodern and modern based on this one point? Atheism did not affect culture and science until relatively late. But more importantly, how can we talk about premodern and modern consciousness, when the difference is between the mind of a believer and an unbeliever? Perhaps even Christians are not so different from their non-believing peers in how they perceive the world -- but then again, many Western Christians are lukewarm in their faith. They pay no attention to the necessity of spiritual warfare everyday, and make no progress in their spiritual life.

Did the medievals have a stronger Faith? Maybe they did -- but Taylor's seeming reduction of Faith to just one more mental state or opinion about the world probably results in the wrong diagnosis of the problem and a wrong solution. (Dreher seems to fall in the same error, especially when he uses as support the philosophically naive account given by Daniel Everett of the Pirahã. A Christian wshould more critical in accepting someone else's word about human interaction with spirits (discernment of spirits!). The big problem is with the word "see" -- which is not being used univocally. Is the power of sight the same for all human beings? Yes. The power of imagination? Yes. But is it the case that the imagination is always made active through light striking natural objects and reflecting into the eye? No. (Otherwise, how could one accept the occurrence of supernatural "visions"?) An objective scientist would be looking for an explanation of the phenomena in other than seeing (unless he admits there is something wrong with his vision), rather than doing away with the nature of human sight. There is something other than natural seeing at work in this Pirahã incident, both from a Christian point of view and the perspective of a natural scientist/philosopher.

I once picked it up a copy of A Secular Age at B&N or Borders, and wasn't impressed by his attempt at intellectual history, so I decided it wasn't worthy buying. Now that I'm no longer thinking of becoming an academic, I don't know I'd buy Sources of the Self either.

However, I am now curious to read his characterization of the problem and the solution. (Is it anything more than a liberal account dressed with the trappings of Christianity?)

ForaTV: The Future of the Secular (lecture by Charles Taylor)

Time: Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes
Language Log: The Straight Ones: Dan Everett on the Pirahã
Brazil's Pirahã Tribe: Living without Numbers or Time

I'm sorry, but seeing these bumper stickers like this on people's cars only puts me in a bad mood and reminds me of how universal franchise in a oversized polity does not work. (And there are plenty of cars in the Bay Area sporting the sticker.)

It makes me think that by now these people should be getting a new bumper sticker that says, "Forgive me, I'm a moron."

The size of the polity prevents people from really knowing the candidates; but it also seems to be the case that while in a republic the "many" can participate in self-rule insofar as they have the franchise, many Uhmericans do not deserve that right. They have no excuse for believing in the illusion that is Barack Obama when they could have done the research and read the arguments put forth by those who were more critical of his candidacy, platform, and qualifications (like Ralph Nader, for example). I wouldn't let them off the hook because they acted on some disordered emotion (of which white guilt is an example).

Did someone actually put this on their car?

This, however, would be even more moronic:
New York Post: A Dem saying 'No'
Virginia's Webb defying prez

(via AmCon)
LRC: Same Empire, Different Emperor by Laurence M. Vance
Secession: A Solution to the Washington Debt Threat by Ron Holland

Via LRC: Getting Schooled
Looking for training? Read these tips before you go shopping.

By Dave Spaulding
LRC: The Ticking College Time-Bomb by Brian A. Krol
Sandro Magister, Italy, United States, Brazil. From the Vatican to the Conquest of the World

Daniel and Amy Carwile

Their website. MySpace. Carwile String Studio. Their flickr photostream.

CDBaby (1 of 3 albums available at CDBaby)

Externals vs. internals

Catholic Light: A fatal flaw in Legionary formation

An exLC writes:

Hey Pete, hope you are well.
I want to comment personally with you on your comment [over at Ladon Cody's ExLC blog] that "Holiness comes from the inside. God alone knows who is holy and who is not. Externals can be deceiving. For instance, how many of us thought at one time that Maciel was holy?"

When I was still in the Legion, I commented with [John Doe], who was still in, and he told me that he commented with [another Legionary] back then and they agreed. The point is that Legion formation essentially was set up to work from the outside in. It made use of externals to build what they called the charitable or priestly heart. The idea was to practice external things: kneeling for meditation, opening doors for others, making little sacrifices at meals and tons and tons of other things, with the aim of internalizing them. The idea was not that those things would come from the heart, but that they would change the heart through simply doing them.

So many actions of every day and every moment were like magic formulas to be recited or practiced and, voila, a charitable heart! A holy priest! It is a huge internal flaw of formation in the Legion of Christ. A fatal flaw.

There is no recovering from something like this. There is nothing to save in LC formation because it is backwards.

Unfortunately, there is a whole sector of people in the Church who fixate on this type of externalization and are caught up in it, and call it holiness. It is only worth something if it does come from the heart, and then, if it produces no real fruit, it is still just a noisy gong, a clashing cymbal.

Can external acts be identified with charity, or can one infer that someone has the virtue of charity because they follow these rules setting forth certain actions? No. But can the following of such rules lead to the internalization of charity? What can be internalized is the [rational] order that these rules put forward. This is not true only of life in a religious community, it is true of life in any community, including the family. Being polite and external acts of consideration does not mean that someone has a loving, kind, or respectful heart, but if these acts are motivated by charity, then they will shape how charity is manifest and help increase charity. (Charity directs all acts ordered towards human goods to the ultimate good, God, and informs the other virtues.) It is not that the Legionaries were being formed "backwards" since one can assume that many of the seminarians were sincerely motivated by a zealous charity; rather, it is whether their understanding of charity was malformed in the first place by the Legionaries. (As shown by the LCs' private vow, wrongful obedience, and how what they deem to be "murmuring" is to be stifled, in the name of charity.)
Catholic Light: Mariologist Hauke on Medjugorje: "Don't let the devotees fall into the void"
In response to a reader, Dr. Fleming gives some suggestions on a course of study for those who wish to regain their intellectual patrimony:

Neither Burke nor Weaver, admirable as they are, will avail to steer us in the right direction unless we have read the books that shaped their often correct conclusions.

I think one has to be clear: Is your intention to defend a South that no longer really exists or to clear your own mind of the lying rubbish that is at the heart of all liberalisms, both the Marxist type and the libertarian type? The former project requires an ideology–one more dishonest attempt to maintain or acquire power–while the latter requires a great deal of systematic study.

In asking for suggestions on what to read, you should also be clear. Are you looking for a serious philosophical program or a course of study for ordinary intelligent people? If the latter, then you may begin today by setting aside all your Southern books for several years and devote yourself to studying the literary and intellectual tradition that formed the South. My recommendation is that you begin with two projects: 1) Learn Latin and 2) begin reading good translations of the best Greek literature: Homer, Hesiod, the tragedies, and Plato’s early dialogues as preparation for studying the indispensable philosopher, Aristotle. Without a firm grasp of Aristotle and Cicero, there is hardly any point in reading Burke, much less Weaver. We Americans are provincial colonials in a great and comprehensive tradition. We cannot “remember who we are” if we forget who we have been.
The Battle for Marjah By PATRICK COCKBURN

Does this mean that negotiations with the Taliban is no longer an option for the Obama administration?
The Daily Mail: Iran is now a 'nuclear state' says Ahmadinejad as thousands take to the streets (via Drudge)

Daniel Larison will write something later.

See FRESH and Food, Inc. for free

Community showing of FRESH the movie in Los Altos on March 5. Details.

Silicon Valley Reads:
A free showing of the film "Food, Inc.," a 90-minute documentary exploring the food industry's detrimental effects on our health and environment.

1 p.m.

Hillview Branch Library, 1600 Hopkins Dr., San Jose

Sat., March 20, 2010

Food, Inc. website

Deus Providebit

The student brothers of the Western Dominican Province have a blog.

One of the brothers mentions that he has served at Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church in San Francisco. I did not know there was a Byzantine Catholic church in SF. I should check the church out one of these weekends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Discussion of Charlotte Allen's article on dating at Dr. Helen, who links to this response Stuart Schneiderman, Welcome to the Harem. Then there's this piece by Conor Friedersdorf, who writes: "A declining marriage rate alone is partly evidence for the proposition that beta men and women in today’s sexual marketplace are having more trouble than before “finding and securing long-term mates." One should also take into account the divorce rate and women's reasons for divorce.

Edit. Steve Sailer's post.

The Last Ditch
Brussels Journal: The EU’s Horrible Honeymoon

If financial problems do put the brakes on European integration and even reverse it, how badly will the EU unravel? Is it possible for it to be saved from such a disaster (as the elites would see it)? If not, can it still be a potential instrument for the AC? Or would an AC have to gain power in Europe by other means?
Brussels Journal: Liberalism and the Search for the Ground: Another Visit with Eric Voegelin
JMG, Becoming a Third World Country

In the course of writing last week’s Archdruid Report post, I belatedly realized that there’s a very simple way to talk about the scope of the brutal economic contraction now sweeping through American society – a way, furthermore, that might just be able to sidestep both the obsessive belief in progress and the equally obsessive fascination with apocalyptic fantasy that, between them, make up much of what passes for thinking about the future these days. It’s to point out that, over the next decade or so, the United States is going to finish the process of becoming a Third World country.
The energy consumption of avatars
by Daniel Pargman

The peak oil crisis: government in transition by Tom Whipple

Post-Carbon Schools: Back from Hell by Dan Allen

My favorite educational quote in this vein comes from Wendell Berry, in his wonderful little post-9/11 book, ‘In the Presence of Fear.’ In it, he says:

"The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. Its proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now call “information” – which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first."

This quote, like all great quotes, challenges us. It challenges us to ask: What then should we put first? What are the key ideas around which we should construct our educational structures? This starting point is key, because if we screw up on this (as our present civilization has done), everything else comes out shit. And we’re up to our eyeballs in shit. Enough!

I humbly suggest we adhere to three basic cornerstones to support the framework of a saner post-carbon educational system; cornerstones based on the essential features/tendencies of the human species that we must consciously promote. I propose these: morality, community, and stewardship of the environment (or the Land Ethic).
By morality, I mean the mental and behavioral patterns of our species that are most admirable: honesty, kindness, empathy, generosity, thrift, frugality, and forgiveness, among others. These ideas must be woven through every lesson in every unit in every subject taught in every grade of our schools – not as asides, or occasional features, but as key, indispensable parts of everything we teach. Our students should be bathed in morality daily. Nurturing a strong sense of morality in our youth is not only the sole path to ensuring a livable future, it is our only barrier protecting against the ever-present monstrous side of our nature. To neglect or pervert morality, as we have done, is to court and eventually ensure apocalypse.

By community, I mean the patterns of inter-dependent human interactions at the local level that bind us together in a common goal: the goal of thriving mentally and physically, as best as possible, in our everyday lives at our chosen place of residence. The studies of what factors contribute to strong communities are well-advanced and common-sensical: well-developed inter-personal and conflict-resolution skills, lack of ‘globilization’ distortions to the local economy, strong knowledge of (and sensitivity to the health of) local ecosystems, strong basic skill set for supplying basic necessities, robust mechanism for transferring knowledge down generations, etc.

The key factors that contribute to strong communities must be made explicit to children at a young age and consciously nurtured throughout their schooling years. Threats that tend to rip communities apart must also be made explicit and consciously guarded against.

We have lived for so long without coherent communities in our atomized industrial deserts that a strong conscious effort must be made to reinstate community-friendly patterns that were, for ages, second nature to everybody. The fossil-energy safety nets that have ‘protected’ us (smothered us?) for several generations will soon be gone, and it is only through the creation and conscious maintenance of strong communities that we can hope for resiliency in the trying times ahead.

For the third cornerstone, I used the phrase, “stewardship of the environment” above. By this, I simply mean a conscious and unwavering application of Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic by every person to our chosen localities. This Land Ethic, as discussed by Leopold in his masterpiece, A Sand County Almanac, involves the extension of our ethical sphere to include not just humans, but all members of the local biotic community.

Leopold says: "The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land. …[A] land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such."

And Leopold summarizes the ethic thusly: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

While it has been intuitively obvious to ‘primitive savages’ in many past civilizations, we in our ‘advanced’ industrial civilization have never quite wrapped our collective heads around the fact that to chip away (or blast away, as the case may be) at the ecological foundations of Life, is profoundly immoral; it is murder at first, and then ultimately suicide. In our collective insanity, we have given such destructive madness the name of ‘progress’ and put it on a pedestal. The results have played out predictably.

This Land Ethic has been expanded on eloquently by Wendell Berry (among others), and should be common knowledge to every child. We must immerse our children in the Land Ethic, just as we should for the more traditional human moralities discussed above. When obeyed, it holds incredible power to enrich our lives. When ignored or flouted, it guarantees destruction.


I am tempted to stop here with the three cornerstones, but there is something else weighing heavily on my mind concerning the education of our children.

I love my high-school students to death. Despite their occasional misdeeds, they are great kids. They make me laugh; they make me think; and (almost) every day they renew my oft-wavering faith that everything might just turn out semi-OK in the end.
But I have to admit, I’m a more than a little embarrassed for them.

These are 17 and 18 year-old biological-adults who have the life skills of 7-8 year-olds. Confronted with a rapidly approaching physical/cultural paradigm shift, they are as helpless as the plump beetle larvae I sometimes reveal when splitting firewood during the winter – full of potential, but helpless to deal with an unexpectedly-changed reality.

They have essentially zero knowledge on how one might secure the basic necessities of their species without, say, a credit card. Left to their own devices, these biological adults cannot obtain food, water, shelter, or manufacture any of the countless items they would need for even basic survival in their everyday lives.

It has reached the bizarre extreme where several generations of Americans are wholly disconnected from the sources of every single material thing they depend on to function as biological organisms.

This, of course, will no longer be possible as the fossil-fuel-based sources of our ‘material things’ abandon us. It must change, and it will change.

In light of this change, a fundamental part of our children’s post-carbon education must include hands-on experience with the essential life skills required of their species. This is not to say that every kid must become an expert gardener, seed saver, nutritionist, chef, composter/soil-builder, forester, miller, architect, and carpenter, etc., etc. But every kid should have learned the basics of each of those ‘basic life skills’ jobs (and many others) by actually doing them under some guidance.

This apprenticeship in basic skills should be a key part of every child’s education – not as a replacement for classroom-based studies of the natural and social sciences, math, etc, but as an essential supplement.

In addition to helping kids ‘find their true calling,’ incorporating this type of education with the more traditional classroom forms would arm our entire population with a basic skill-set. Such skills would ensure a strong resiliency within our population, enabling us to weather even severe disruptions to our infrastructure with minimized misery.

Because, if anything, our post-carbon world will be defined by the requirement to deal with rapidly and unpredictably changing circumstances – politically, socially, economically, and climatically. Monumental change will be the norm. Resilience will be crucial; basic skills essential.

The logistics of this basic-skill education would, of course, be complex, and it’s precise implementation would heavily depend on the still-unknown nature of our post-carbon civilization. But I think it’s worth thinking about now.

There are those who would argue families are the units of a community but it does not matter what form families have, so long as those who desire to form a family consent to it. Those who defend traditional sexual morality would argue otherwise, but can an alliance for relocalization be made between traditionalists and progressives? How much of a community can there be if one part has to shun social relations with the other because it is deemed "bigoted" or "morally lax"?

Apparently the principal of a certain school decided to become a first-grade teacher after getting (re-)married. I saw her today after the end of recess but didn't really get a chance to say hi or talk to her since I was trying to manage the line. How much money does her new husband make?
Asia News: Seoul: North Koreans risk starvation. Pyongyang admits: monetary policies wrong
In 2009 there was a 200 thousand ton decline in the production of wheat. To feed the entire population 5.4 million tonnes needed, but in 2009 the harvest has failed to exceed 4.1 million. The regime confirms that the growth in inflation was caused by currency appreciation, and apologizes to North Koreans.
NLM: The Latin Gesture of Benediction: A History in Images and a Plea for a Return
by Gregor Kollmorgen
Making a Killing on Student Loans
Paul Craig Roberts, The U.S. is Now a Police State
Globalization Is Killing the Globe: Return to Local Economies
by Thom Hartmann

(via EB)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Q&A on Nullification and Interposition by Clyde Wilson
Karen De Coster, Primal Life: A Journey of Diet and Health (via LRC)

Ms. De Coster recommends the primal diet of Mark Sisson.
A video of Michael Pollan's appearance for Silicon Valley Reads is now available.

The End of Oil and The End of Food

Paul Roberts, The End of Oil (Google Books)

Mother Jones interview

Mr. Roberts's most recent book, The End of Food. (Houghton Mifflin)

CBC News
On Point with Tom Ashbrook: The End of Food?
Word for Word
The New Yorker
Washington Post Book World Live video of his lecture for the Commonwealth Club (2008).

Lecture given in 2009:

(Rob Hopkins reviews Food, Inc.--archived article at EB.)

Raj Patel Discusses Stuff and Starved
Entropy revisited
Guy R. McPherson , Nature Bats Last
One way of looking at our current set of predicaments is that we've been on a binge, consuming energy considerably faster than it can be captured and stored by Earth's ecosystems. While fossil fuels once appeared limitless (and still do to deniers of peak oil), and though we're literally bathed in energy (in the form of sunlight), the disappearance of the fossil-fuel storehouse accumulated over millions of years isn't something that can be replaced with anything nearly as convenient as fossil fuels.

Small is beautiful (and radical)
Eliot Coleman, Grist
When a friend told me of two of the proposed discussion topics for a major agricultural conference--"What is so radical about radical agriculture?" and "Is small the only beautiful?"--I told him that that I thought both questions had the same answer. Let me see if I can explain.

Via NLM: Entretien avec Mons. Guido Marini.
Yesterday, from Counterpunch:

Pam Martens, Wall Street's Killer Instinct Spells Death Knell for Jobs

Paul Craig Roberts, Blood Lust and Bragging Rights

Franklin Spinney, Mark-to-Market Pentagon Style

Heather Gray, The Cruel Insanity of Obama's Agriculture Export Plan


Jeff Culbreath, Catholics and English Literature. Mr. Culbreath posts something from Dr. John Senior which deals with the apparent difficulty Catholics may have with the reading of English literature since it "is substantially Protestant."

The difficult contrarian part of me wants to say, "Who needs literature in the first place." Societies have survivied, even flourished, without literacy. Appreciation of literature in the past was limited to the elites, and those aspiring to be among them -- I might argue that the more important components of intellectual culture would be song and music and poetry, not as something to be read but something to be learned and recited.

I shouldn't say the valuing of written stories for their own sake is relatively new, but the novel certainly is, in comparison to older literary forms. Did anyone study Shakespeare's plays before the 19th century? I believe that during the Renaissance poetry and rhetorical texts were studied, not just for their own sakes but also for the practical goal of teaching students style. Students were to imitate what was best. I'll have to take a look at the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum to see what study was done of written stories and for what purpose.

(The printing press with movable type facilitated the publishing of books and facilitated the development of the novel as a literary form. The pasttime of reading novels must have been popular with the educated -- how else would the continued publication of novels be explained? While the power of the novel to shape the moral imagination has probably always been recognized, when did the reading of novels become a required component of schools? Were novels ever used as a model of style?)

I could also refer us to the fact that poetry, when memorized, can be readily enjoyed by not only the individual but also with others. Novels are more limited, though not as much as movies, as one can more easily share words with others; however, one cannot transmit images, from one imagination to another. Memorizing passages from a novel is not so easy, though one can memorize lines of dialogue. (Plays can fall somewhere in between the two, depending upon how the play is written?) One must have a book handy in order to read to others, and its presence is almost a requirement for facilitating its discussion, for example in a book club. It is difficult to appropriate a novel as something that is part of one's self; it is much easier to do this with a poem or song, or with a musical composition.

It is unfortunate that modern Westerners do not have the art of creating epic poetry.

Reading a book is usually a solitary activity. There isn't anything wrong with that as a form of leisure, and not all leisure must be social and used in sharing culture with others. I would ask whether the production of books requires more resources than what is required for other forms of leisure (including the making of music). I would also ask how much of a treasury of good poetry, music, stories, and so on do we need? The desire for novelty exacerbates the danger of overconsumption, especially in these times when we may be putting too much stress on the environment. What does the publishing industry, in particular, do to entice us to increase our consumption of books?

With that said... one cannot fetter the human soul and prevent it from being creative -- new works of art will be produced even if resources are limited. Also, a people should probably value the great works that have been produced and seek to pass these on to the next generation. Even if a culture that has both oral and written components may be better than a culture that relies almost exclusively on the written word, the retort might be given, what can we, who are literate and do not have a living oral culture, do but continue to nourish our souls with good books?

Check out the NYT Bestsellers List -- most of the Uhmericans who read for leisure have poor taste, at least with respect to what they purchase. Educated families should have a library, but they need to discern carefully what to buy and keep.

Still, I wonder: should we dedicate so much of our non-religious leisure time to the reading of novels and similar literary forms? Or might we achieve more if we spent more time on reciting and memorizing poetry, learning to sing and play music, and acquiring the art of story-telling?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Public Discourse: Citizens United and the Problem of Modern Judicial Activism
Carson Holloway, February 05, 2010
A political scientist explains why the concept of “strict scrutiny” is alien to the Constitution and why it poses a threat to a constitutionally defensible judicial review.
Zenit: On the Divine Call
"Encounter With God Brings Man to Recognize His Own Poverty"
From the Thinking Housewife, "Pushy Parenting":

Feminism is a school for marital hardship, encouraging negative and complaining attitudes toward husbands and a laissez-faire approach to marriage. It also leaves women with guilty consciences which they dispel with extravagant gestures of spoiling. It’s become acceptable to criticize your spouse in front of others. This is one of the most common forms of spousal betrayal: the public trashing of a spouse. It’s a cardinal sin against marriage.

It seems to be acceptable for female friends to gather together and complain about their husbands. I know of someone who does this, and while people may think that it provides a valve for releasing emotion (the whole pop-psych dictum that one should express rather than repress), it does nothing constructive for the marriage. Whatever problems there are remain. Worse, it becomes a way of validating one's self and actions, rather than seeing the other point of view (or understanding men).

Do I need to ask how often this sort of behavior is shown on TV and approved?

An introduction to Game and PUAs by Charlotte Allen

The Weekly Standard: The New Dating Game
Back to the New Paleolithic Age.
BY Charlotte Allen

What has feminism done? It has created an environment in which certain men, those that most women find attractive, are able to have casual sex with those women, without any stigma or responsibility. Various alpha males may act without restraint when it comes to their sexual appetite, but they must also be calculated and in a certain sense, patient. They do not act merely on impulse, though they are driven by the desire to have sex. Their partners? Women who are acting without restraint upon their desire for a "worthy" male -- being possessed by some male they judge to be worthy. Women's instinct to be hypergamous also influences their choice of sex partners. It is probably the case that many of those women who are willing to sleep with alpha men are not just looking for fun -- they are hoping to be able to secure some sort of commitment from them in exchange for sex. But it is probably also true that some are also acting without inhibition and are not looking for a long-term relationship either.

It should be said again: feminists are the enemy of women, maybe their worst.
Investor Village: The Oil Export Crisis Has Unofficially Arrived (E&C) By Chris Nelder
AFP: Iran anniversary 'punch' will stun West: Khamenei

via Drudge

Salve Regina by Jacob Obrecht

Jeffrey Tucker, A New Love for Obrecht:

His previous post at NLM on the DVD of Obrecht's Saint. Donatian Mass: Obrecht and a Must-Own DVD
St. Donatian Mass website

James Howard Kunstler on the South? And Tea Partiers.

From We're Weimar:

Of course this Sunbelt political culture has tentacles and outposts all over the USA, wherever a few generations of laboring folk enjoyed debt-fueled parabolic rises in living standards during the cheap oil decades, and now find themselves in foreclosure hell, indentured to the very WalMarts that they welcomed with open arms (and allowed to destroy their local businesses) -- and, of course, it's yet another paradox that these are the same folk who will still defend the big box masters to their deaths. The America they stand for is a weird contradictory mish-mash of Confederate nostalgia, hyper-individualism that really owes allegiance to nothing, racial enmity, religious paranoia, and potemkin patriotism -- especially involving anything in the constitution that allows them to wriggle out of obligations to the public interest at the same time that they get to push other groups of people around.

The Tea Party people are the corn-pone Nazis I have been warning you about. They are gathering strength in numbers as President Obama and congress fritter away their remaining legitimacy in a manner of governance that more and more resembles an endless Chinese Fire Drill. The delusional craziness of the Tea Partyists exists in direct proportion to the wimpy deceit of the government, especially in matters of money and statistics reporting. Our political leaders are resorting to wholesale deceit because the truth of our situation -- comprehensive bankruptcy -- is too painful to dwell on and for the most part they are too chicken too state it.

Someone made a comment (last week, I believe) about Mr. Kunstler's Yankee prejudices. There are some aspects of Southern culture that are disordered (the enjoyment of NASCAR), which Mr. Kunstler rightly criticizes, but this is more like Yankee triumphalism.

Who is more likely to support a replacement of the National Government with a more authoritarian government, or even a tyranny, Uhmericans on the "left" or Uhmericans on the "right"? It seems to me that one can find plenty of those who do not care about the Constitution or states' rights on both sides, but it's those on the left who are more likely to endorse further centralization of authority. (There are a few 'liberals' who believe in state sovereignty, but I think they make up less of the total population of the United States than the 'conservative' believers.)

Ideology trumps history.

Laura Linney, the new hostess of Masterpiece Theater Classic, was introducing the final episode of the most recent adaptation of Emma tonight when she talked about the situation of women in the 19th century. They had limited property rights and their property was their husbands' once they married. Ms. Linney went on to say that women were not expected, nay, they were not permitted to work, giving the impression that women were trapped in the home with very few options. What a caricature of married life for women in the 19th century! First of all, the women who are the main characters in Jane Austen's novels are relatively well off. The women of the lower classes have to work, as servants and so on. The Austen heroines and the mothers could work -- at home, sewing, and so on. They were also expected to become the mistress of a household if they married well. (They also received an education commensurate with the duties that they were to perform as wives and mothers.) But none of this matters, because they did not receive pay for their labor. We are to think that because upper class women were denied the opportunity to be a wage slave like lower class women were to become as industrialization in Great Britain increased that they were somehow deprived or wretched. One does not even need a great familiarity with British history or modest intelligence to understand this -- they can see for themselves that this is the case if they watch the adaptations, even if they are not always be 100% historically accurate.

One cannot blame Ms. Linney and the producers of Masterpiece Theater alone, since this sort of narrative concerning the times before the rise of feminism is popular today. But a program that pretends to be cultured should be giving an accurate representation of the past, instead of interpreting it in accordance with leftist ideology. But what else does one expect from PBS?

Watch Emma online.
Audio slideshow
German Tank Leopard 2 / Kampfpanzer Bundeswehr

Sunday, February 07, 2010

American women

A memory: Two Romanian women talking to the Philosopher and the New Scot in their Romanian accents, while we were sitting... in the Noir Bar in Cambridge?

"What's wrong with American women? They're not like women, they're like men. They talk like men, walk like men. They don't act like women." *Romanian women then draw curves in the air to illustrate their point.*

They might have said something about the way Uhmerican women laugh as well.

The insecurity of women in who they are is linked to their confusion about what they are. It will not be solved by their imitating men; they must cultivate their femininity and find within it the source of character and feminine strength. Otherwise, this insecurity (along with other causes) results in women remaining adolescents trapped in the bodies of 30- and 40-year-olds. (Just listen to the way they talk and what they talk about, especially when they bring up the topic of relationships.)
Asia News: Sri Lanka Kandy, Christian faithful and peasants mourn the death of Italian "Fr. Gandhi"
by Melani Manel Perera
Yesterday, the funeral of Pastor Angelo Stefanizzi took place in Lewella, central Sri Lanka. The priest has spent 58 years in the island, working with farmers in the area. Provincial of the Jesuits: "a big heart and a profound education."

A picture of a Jesuit in a cassock! May he rest in peace.
Asia News: CHINA 210 million migrants on the move for the New Year of the Tiger
Like every year, the exodus of migrants begins, many of whom return home only for the New Year. But maybe this year it will be different: many are hoping to find work close to home and stay there.
Sandro Magister: China. Zen's Horn and Bertone's Bell
Two visions are clashing over the future of the Chinese Catholic Church, that of the cardinal of Hong Kong and that of Vatican diplomacy. A report from "30 Giorni" gives voice to the latter. With an interview with one of the pundits of the Beijing government

The current issue of 30 Giorni.
Zenit: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Agrees With Pope
Notes Similar Stances With Catholic Church

The patriarch reported that the Moscow Patriarchate has opened 900 new parishes in the last year, and the total number of clerics has grown by 1,500.

The Russian Orthodox Church currently has 30,142 parishes (compared to 29,263 in 2008), 160 dioceses (three more than last year), 207 bishops (an increase from 203), and 32,266 clerics (compared to 30,670 last year).

When the 1000th anniversary of the Christianization, or the baptism, of Russia was celebrated in 1988, the Moscow Patriarchate counted 6,893 parishes, 76 dioceses, 74 hierarchs and 7,397 clerics.

The Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance

An interesting comment left for the Archdruid Report's latest:

Show-Me greetings!
Today, not a single county in Missouri can feed its own people, much less the teeming population centers. The last ones who remember how to actually do this (without foreign oil, offshore serfs, or industrial GMO monocropping) are 80 and 90 years old. The silos are broken,the elevators empty, and fire's on the mountain.

No Plan B? Three days after the trucks stop rolling the Apocalyptic Endgame will cease to be speculation.

The good news is the Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance. (Motto: "Your best defense against hard times is a well-fed neighbor") We are a growing all-volunteer movement dedicated to restoring a sustainable local food supply system.

We aim to return food freedom to the 1.1 million residents of the SW Ozarks bioregion. This will help build jobs and a resilient economy. The WFNFarmers'Coop, expected to launch in 60 days or so, will be an economic engine in some 27 contiguous counties. Several large supermarkets have made the decision to "go local" as quickly as possible.

Likewise, the WFNA County Restoration Handbook, a wiki template for free e-distribution, will come out at about the same time. What we are doing here with some success can be adapted for use anywhere.

Finally, the 1,000 Gardens Project is about to go citywide. This, along with other ideas to treat the Collective Amnesia, are freely shared.

JMG, I look foreward to following more of your lucid ideas on this excellent Archdruid Report.

kind regards,

Galen Chadwick
WFNA regional coordinator

Well Fed Neighbor - Local Food. Local Jobs.
1000 Gardens

JackeHammer: Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance Activists Meet at New Office
Folía Rodrigo Martínez

Hespèrion XXI e Jordi Savall "La Gamba in Basso e Soprano"(1564)