Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mark Sisson, Is Living Primal Good for the Environment? and Community Supported Agriculture

Did a search at Local Harvest: results for CSAs near Cupertino. Who wants to go to Flea St. Cafe?
Telegraph: Men do not grow grumpy with age, research finds (via FTW)

Does grumpiness have anything to do with the actual results of the study?

Despite the curmudgeonly stereotype cultivated by Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave, scientists found that older people view the world through rose-tinted spectacles, remembering the good times rather than the bad.

Researchers asked groups of 19 to 31-year-olds and 61 to 80-year-olds to view a series of photographs while analysing their brains’ activity.


They found that in older people, there were stronger connections between regions of the brain that process emotions and those known to be important for forming memories. The trend was particularly strong for processing positive information.


The results suggest that older people are much more likely to remember happy moments than their younger counterparts, the journal Cortex reports.

The reasoning is rather weak.

Do men get cranky as they get older because of their inborn temperament? Or because of their acquired character? Cicero gives one answer. Having had more experience than young people, old men are better acquainted with disappointment and failure, especially the flaws of others. Do people become more stubborn and set in their ways, especially how they react to life?

De Senectute

The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine

Random House

The publisher's description:

Dr. Louann Brizendine, the founder of the first clinic in the country to study gender differences in brain, behavior, and hormones, turns her attention to the male brain, showing how, through every phase of life, the "male reality" is fundamentally different from the female one. Exploring the latest breakthroughs in male psychology and neurology with her trademark accessibility and candor, she reveals that the male brain:

*is a lean, mean, problem-solving machine. Faced with a personal problem, a man will use his analytical brain structures, not his emotional ones, to find a solution.

*thrives under competition, instinctively plays rough and is obsessed with rank and hierarchy.

*has an area for sexual pursuit that is 2.5 times larger than the female brain, consuming him with sexual fantasies about female body parts.

*experiences such a massive increase in testosterone at puberty that he perceive others' faces to be more aggressive.

The Male Brain finally overturns the stereotypes
. Impeccably researched and at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge, this is a book that every man, and especially every woman bedeviled by a man, will need to own.
It seems to me that the book confirms stereotypes [generalizations], rather than overturning them.

The author's website.

Assuming that she does not defend an egalitarian view, the biggest problem with her writing is that it is reductionistic and attributes behavior solely to the organ, the brain.

Q&A With Dr. Louann Brizendine, Author of 'The Male Brain'
Elle interview

Pink Brain, Blue Brain
Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot is touted as a corrective to Dr. Brizendin's books.

(Washington Post review)

The thesis seems to be that differences between male and female brains are small, and nurture is responsible for gender differences. The feminists love the book.

Sharon Begley, Pink Brain, Blue Brain: Claims of sex differences fall apart.

The belief in blue brains and pink brains has real-world consequences, which is why Eliot goes after them with such vigor (and rigor). It encourages parents to treat children in ways that make the claims come true, denying boys and girls their full potential. "Kids rise or fall according to what we believe about them," she notes. And the belief fuels the drive for single-sex schools, which is based in part on the false claim that boy brains and girl brains process sensory information and think differently.

ForaTV: Lise Eliot: Pink Brain, Blue Brain

Interview with Lise Eliot.

Marketing as manipulation.


Frontline interview: Clotaire Rapaille (via The Spearhead)

His book, Culture Code (GB). His institute. Archetype Discoveries Worldwide.

The Code Breaker

Clotaire Rapaille - SUVs and the Reptilian Brain (60 Minutes)

Related links:

Big Fat Lies with Gary Taubes

Big Fat Lies with Gary Taubes, 02/06/08 Stevens Institute of Technology

Inside the Story: Gary Taubes
Catholics should be wary of adopting the latest scientific discoveries, or even much of modern scientific dogma, in defense of the Faith. (I am thinking specifically of certain teachings concerning cosmology, general physics, and of course, biology [evolution].) If such dogma is ever successfully shown to be false to the masses, it will discredit Christianity in the minds of skeptics, who might react, "Those Christians knew that their myths and fairy tales had no rational basis, and so they had to use science to justify their religion." (I was reminded of this again when Tim Staples recently said on Catholic Answers Live that the Big Bang theory confirmed Catholic teaching on Creation, when it doesn't.)

Another recent guest was talking about the importance of logic for the Christian apologist -- it might have been Patrick Madrid. Unless they have a strong background in science, apologists should limit themselves to being critical of current scientific dogma, instead of adducing positive arguments for the Faith from the above areas of science. Even the task of harmonizing these scientific "truths" with the Faith may be too much, as it gives claims by scientists more credibility than is usually warranted.
A reader of ClubOrlov responds to Mr. Orlov's revisiting of the Drug War:

As your only reader in Mexico (as per the "geovisitors" feature)(I am an American) I feel compelled to respond to your post. While the article describes the effects
of the drug war in the United States, it makes little mention of the war in Mexico.

Mexicans from all walks of life (from what I have seen, and the many people whom I've talked to)
feel embarrassed for their country, slightly frightened (at the destabilization of their country), financially troubled (tourism levels have significantly dropped), and angry at F. Calderón/PAN for plunging the country into a what cannot be called anything less than a full fledged domestic war.

The north of Mexico has become a slaughterhouse in urban areas,
and in the state of Michoacán, violence has spiraled to unprecedented levels with many people brutally murdered. A tragic corollary is an increase in the violence against women, in the form of beheading, torture, and severance of body parts after death.

Yet the narcotics trade has enriched Mexico with an influx of billions of dollars in foreign currency. This money provides employment and lucrative opportunities not otherwise available to extremely poor farmers and workers. An entire "narcoculture" has emerged (complete with patron saints) and will not disappear quickly. In short, the narcotics economy here is extremely complex, changes quickly with extreme violence, and is intricately intertwined with the "legitimate" economy. As such, some of your points are in danger of being gross oversimplifications of what is in reality a damned knotty problem.
Mencius Moldbug has some thoughts today about California (and the rest of the United States): The true election: a practical option for real political change.

Dr. Fleming has added the second part to his piece on social justice; it deals with charity (and the order of charity).

Phillip Blond at Villanova

(via FPR; A Reader Responds – For and Against Blond/Brooks)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Boisi Center: Robert P. George, who will deliver the 9th Annual Prophetic Voicies Lecture on March 25, was recently profiled in the New York Times Magazine.

Counterpunch, March 26

The Most Vital Ingredient in Wall Street Reform Goes Missing, by Pam Martens

The Looming Trade War With China, by Mike Whitney

Afghanistan: War of Illusions, by Andrew J. Bacevich

Does the Pentagon still think this is the future of the Union Army?

More links:

Technology, Systems & Program Integration Directorate (TSPID)
Future Warrior Suit 2020
Technology and the Future Warrior
United States Army Objective Force Warrior
Objective Force Warrior

Meditation by Father Nicola Bux on Holy Week

Zenit: The Priest and the Paschal Triduum
A Meditation on the Liturgy From Palm Sunday to Easter

(via Peter Hitchens)
Southern Cross By David Gordon
The meaning of the Mel Bradford moment
Roger McGrath's review of Saving Private Ryan is posted at VFR.
Zenit: Between Innovation and Tradition
Interview With Theologian and Liturgist Father Nicola Bux
By Antonio Gaspari
Downgrade Moody's By DEAN BAKER
Will the U. S. Lose Its AAA Rating?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Patrick Deneen, New Nullifiers?

This “debate” takes place in the backdrop of a set of deeper beliefs that pre-determine its outcome. First, we know that we are not likely to live in places for any appreciable length of time, so we require fungibility of care. This means that we come to expect impersonal care, and know that we will necessarily be treated as data. The question is, which data-keeper will treat us? We are treated as parts, not wholes, and so our illnesses are treated as discrete occurrences, not as part of a treatment that cares for the human creature in all of our personal wholeness, from diet to exercise to the essential belief that we belong somewhere among particular people. One argument never advanced in the health-care “debate” was that it would be invaluable to strengthen communities. The best health-care provider is the local family doctor who knows the general health – and beyond that, has a broader personal knowledge – of each person, from cradle to grave. The backdrop of the health-care debate was that we have rejected that option because of our addiction to mobility and its attendant “restlessness,” so that the debate all along was over means, not ends.

It follows that we need some kind of provider because generations no longer care for each other. Above all, children no longer care for their parents as they age and die, so we need to farm out that activity to another caretaker. That costs a lot of money. Further, we know deep in our bones that we live in a society in which upon our deaths we will be almost instantly forgotten. Whether one believes in an afterlife or not, in previous times, an afterlife was at least assured through the memory of successive generations who would remember and tend the legacy of departed ancestors. Today, all we have is the life we now live – and our dignity demands, if nothing else, that it be extended as long as possible, by whatever means. Lastly, we have come to define liberty as “the endless power after power that ceaseth only in death.” By that definition, death is the worst thing imaginable. We all live in the shadow of Hobbes, and have accepted that the basic motivation that animates us is fear of death. The character Nathan Coulter in Wendell Berry’s novel Hannah Coulter – who, learning of his terminal illness, refuses an intensive treatment of radiation therapy in order to die at home – is incomprehensible to us. In the light of these facts about ourselves, there is no fundamental disagreement that health and longevity are inalienable rights. The only question worthy of debate is who shall provide it – State-supported corporatism or corporate-supported Statism.

The UK more peak-oil-aware than the US?

The peak oil crisis: a breakthrough?
Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press

It came as a surprise that last weekend Britain's Energy Minister summoned a meeting of business leaders to discuss the government's response to a decline in global oil production should it actually be imminent. Just last summer, a UK government formally rejected the notion that the demand for oil would soon overtake available supplies leading to much higher prices and global economic disruptions.


Government ‘Peak Oil Summit’ Starts the Process of Government Acknowledging Peak Oil?
Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture

On Monday Peter Lipman and I represented Transition Network at an event which could potentially be the day people look back to as the day when UK government finally starting to ‘get’ peak oil. Fascinating and frustrating in equal measure, the event, “Policy Response to potential future oil supply constraints”, was billed as “a half-day workshop hosted by the Energy Institute in partnership with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, under Chatham House Rules”. For those who don’t know what Chatham House rules are, it means that the contents of what was said can be discussed, but none of it can be attributed to anyone.


Sowing Clover, Sowing Hope
Gene Logsdon,

In our family, there’s a tradition of sowing new clover on the Feast of St. Joseph, which in case you heathens don’t know, falls on March 19. So on that day this year you could find me, one of the more pious heathens, walking my fields, cranking away on my little broadcast seeder like an organ grinder, sowing red clover seed. Actually, I did it on March 18, but surely old St. Joseph wouldn’t quibble over a mere twenty four hours.


Thomas Fleming, Religio Philologi: Social Justice I and Trollope the Casuist

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Archdruid Report: The Logic of Abundance

The Archdruid Report: The Logic of Abundance

Paul Craig Roberts's last?


The American corporate media does not serve the truth. It serves the government and the interest groups that empower the government.

America’s fate was sealed when the public and the anti-war movement bought the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory. The government’s account of 9/11 is contradicted by much evidence. Nevertheless, this defining event of our time, which has launched the US on interminable wars of aggression and a domestic police state, is a taboo topic for investigation in the media. It is pointless to complain of war and a police state when one accepts the premise upon which they are based.

These trillion dollar wars have created financing problems for Washington’s deficits and threaten the U.S. dollar’s role as world reserve currency. The wars and the pressure that the budget deficits put on the dollar’s value have put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. Former Goldman Sachs chairman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is after these protections for the elderly. Fed chairman Bernanke is also after them. The Republicans are after them as well. These protections are called “entitlements” as if they are some sort of welfare that people have not paid for in payroll taxes all their working lives.

With over 21 per cent unemployment as measured by the methodology of 1980, with American jobs, GDP, and technology having been given to China and India, with war being Washington’s greatest commitment, with the dollar over-burdened with debt, with civil liberty sacrificed to the “war on terror,” the liberty and prosperity of the American people have been thrown into the trash bin of history.

The militarism of the U.S. and Israeli states, and Wall Street and corporate greed, will now run their course. As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

That's how the Korean sitcom High Kick through the Roof ends? How bizarre... I haven't watched it all the way through, so I can't say if the ending is defensible or not on its own merits. But to end a sitcom that way?
Health Insurance Bonanza By JOHN V. WALSH
Insurance Execs to Live High, While More Americans Die

Rod Dreher critiques Red Toryism

Two cheers for Red Toryism

More on the Catholic ghetto

A continuation of this post.

Some readers of Life after RC have stated common criticisms against colleges like Christendom and TAC.

For example:

It's a mixed bag.
I wouldn't send our children there [AMU]. (For what it's worth, I wouldn't send them to TAC or Christendom either. To my way of thinking, all three schools are too insular and idiosyncratic to do the kind of educating I think our children need.)

Our daughter, who graduated several years ago from the University of San Francisco said basically the same thing. She thought that those schools would make it too easy for her to just hide away and not face things in the world.

She was pleased that she could talk with the most radical feminist or homosexual or whatever and engage them and actually give them a positive perception of Christianity. Something to think about I guess when choosing schools.


One of the comments that friends who live in Front Royal made was that many of the graduates from Christendom tend to stay in the area and work for the college or HLI or Seton school rather than going out into the world and being a light there. I could see this happening at AMU as well since they are trying to build a town around the university.

I always thought that sounded like a wonderful idea until I read a talk by a cardinal from a family conference somewhere in South America. He basically said that we are not to form insular Catholic ghettos but get out into the world and transform it.

My daughter also commented as she was going through college that many of the students who had gone to Catholic high schools, both diocesan and independent, orthodox and not, seemed to have a much more difficult time making good choices about moral issues than some of the public schooled students. I found that very interesting.

Her position was that she was able to observe her group of peers in school and see the results of their choices, both good and bad, which then affected the choices she made after she left home.

Allowing our daughter to make some of these choices independent of our desires(I was hoping for FUS for her), and then watching home-schooling families as well as friends that our daughter made in college, has changed my opinion about a lot of these things. I am not nearly as inclined to think that sheltering our children is as positive a choice as I did in the past.

Are students of schools like Christendom hyper-pious and uncritical students? First we must ask what sort of education they receive. Then we can ask whether the sort of education they receive prepares them for the "real world." Are there Christendom graduates who are remain Republican cheerleaders by the time they graduate? Yes. But this is true of many Catholics who study at larger colleges and universities as well. How many schools offer an education that is grounded in a proper understanding of the American political tradition and political philosophy, which would enable Catholics to take a more critical look of the Republican party? Very few--I don't know of any, even if there are some TAC alumni who take a reactionary Catholic view of the American founding.

Still, one is more likely to receive an education that equips him to discern and criticize the false beliefs of modernity at Christendom than at a public school or a larger, more-established Catholic school. Some would argue that the lack of coursework in the sciences stunts Christendom students. But I would contest that Catholics who imbibe the doctrine of contemporary sciences are not really better off, since they are unable to distinguish between conclusions that have been attained through sound reasoning and those that have not. The uncritical acceptance of modern science by Catholics may do more to discredit Christianity and hinder evangelization than humble ignorance.

As for whether such an education adequately equips students for life after graduation--I would agree that it doesn't. But this is a problem affecting students at larger institutions, secular or Catholic, as well. All are involved with the higher education bubble to some degree. All contribute to that trend which stunts maturity and promotes infantilization, though at least Catholics at Christendom and FUS are more eager to embrace married life and its responsibilities soon after graduation. Immaturity and lack of real world experience can be found everywhere, not just small Catholic colleges. There are students at Christendom who must work in order pay for their education. There are many whose education is paid for by scholarships, parents, or loans. How is this any different from any other college or university in the United States?

As for the assertion that Catholics who attend Christendom and other alternate Catholic schools are less able to deal with sin and the temptations of the real world, I find this also to be questionable, hinting of presumption or some sort of pelagianism. Catholics can resist temptation and stay in the state of grace only through grace, not by their efforts alone, and God provides sufficient grace to any Catholic, regardless of the circumstances, to avoid sin. Given the arrangements of many dormitories and the lack of supervision or moral oversight, Catholics are more likely to be led astray at large universities than at schools like Christendom. Who is more likely to be "spiritually mature"? Is this a question that can be answered? But Catholic colleges that have daily liturgies and offer frequent opportunities for confession and communal devotions are better than those that do not.

If Christendom fails to give its students a better grasp of the lay vocation in the here and now, then how much more true is this of larger schools, which have a greater effect against localization? Catholics are called to live as witnesses of Christ, but among the neighbors in accordance with the order of charity. Is it easier to observe the order of charity in Latin American than in the United States? (Is it easier to be a complacent Catholic in Latin American countries, to take that sort of outward profession to others for granted?) Is life in the United States more fragmented and atomistic? Catholics should be striving to be rooted as possible, instead of acquiescing to the living trends imposed by industrialization and centralization. (And here again, I think it is more likely to find countercultural Catholics at small schools like Christendom than at Boston College, students more willing to embrace agrarianism and economic freedom.) The cardinal's admonition, while true, is not complete. There is also the requirement of charity to strengthen bonds with extended family and to "network" with other Catholics. Witnessing to non-Catholics then becomes a consequence of living in a diverse society, rather than the primary duty which gives shape to the Catholic lay vocation.

I still need to finish that follow-up post on Catholic co-education and colleges...

Fr. Paul Marx, OSB, RIP

St. John's Abbey
Human Life International

Zenit: Human Life International Mourns Founder
Father Paul Marx Dies at 89

A tribute to a giant among men: Father Paul Marx, OSB
Sandro Magister, "You must answer for it before God"

"... and before properly constituted tribunals." The pope's letter to the Catholics of Ireland, on the scandal of sexual abuse against minors on the part of priests

Mark Sisson, Standing at Work

The chair is a bit like wheat, actually: a relative novelty to which we aren’t physiologically adapted that has become a cultural staple nonetheless. For at least eight hours each day, we twist our bodies into weird Tetris blocks with poor posture and sit, for the most part unmoving, on chairs. When you stop and think about it, sitting down in a chair for extended periods of time seems a little silly. I mean, it’s not even all that comfortable (isn’t that why we distort our bodies with terrible posture – to make sitting more comfortable?). We aren’t “designed” to sit in chairs. We’re certainly meant to stand, but we sit in chairs because we designed them to fit our anatomy, and I somehow doubt that whoever came up with the chair was thinking about long-term effects on our physiology.

Is sitting on the floor healthier for the body? Does it matter whether it is Korean style or "Indian" style or Japanese style? I suppose it is the alignment of the back which matters, not the position of the legs.

A paleo perspective on US-Israel relations

Thomas Fleming, Netanyahu for President
NLM: Liturgical Colours for Lent in the Ambrosian Tradition and The Coptic Orthodox Divine Liturgy
Huliq: Health care bill summary and timeline

In 2014, most of the bill's most heralded benefits take effect. This is the year when the state insurance exchanges go on-line, with subsidized coverage available in the form of tax credits, and when Medicaid will be expanded to cover individuals making up to 133 percent of the Federal poverty level (currently about $28,300 for a family of four). Insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions and charging higher premiums to individuals with chronic conditions starting this year, and they will also be required to cover maternity care the same as all other medical procedures. 2014 is also the year the mandates kick in: individuals who do not have insurance and cannot prove hardship will pay a $95 fine, rising to $695 by 2016; families without insurance will pay fines of up to $2,250, indexed for inflation after 2016; and employers with more than 50 employees that have any employees enrolled in subsidized coverage through the exchanges will pay a penalty of $2000 times the number of workers employed minus 30.

Mark Levin said that the CBO estimated it would cost the IRS $10 billion (over 10 years?) to pay for enforcement, but there is no provision with the bill for these costs. Also, the IRS cannot confiscate property for those who do not pay the penalty on time, nor can it charge interest on those who fail to do so.

Since the timeline is spread out, will Americans remain angry for the next year or two and be active in opposing it? Or will they simply adjust and accept?
Besides the Blond lecture, the Tocqueville Forum offers the following lecture by Dr. Esolen:

4th Annual Carroll Lecture: Catholicism: Last Hope for a Dying Culture
Anthony Esolen, Professor of English, Providence College

Since the inception of the Tocqueville Forum, we have sponsored a yearly lecture in honor of Bishop John Carroll, S.J., our distinguished founder, and his dedication to creating a Catholic institution that contributes to the political, cultural and educational life of America. In this spirit, Professor Esolen gave a lecture in which he sought to answer the following questions: What is culture? Why do we now possess only the remnants of a culture? And, what are the resources that the Catholic church possesses which could kindle culture anew in the West?


More lectures.
Phillip Blond at Georgetown–Streaming Audio

Monday, March 22, 2010

New York City: An Elephant’s Graveyard for Ovaries by Gavin McInnes

(via The Thinking Housewife)

Has Fujian Gal been having difficulty finding someone? At least she has the excuse that she's a "native" and her parents live there. How about all those 20-something women who decide to relocate to NYC? The false glamor of the city cannot make up for a lonely life.
Life After RC: Integral formation (tm)
The failure of republics
Damien Perrotin, The View from Brittany

There were elections in Brittany yesterday. The result was, let's say, interesting for us, but that would be hard to understand for people not familiar with the French voting system and with the arcana of Breton politics. To make a long story short we ended up a left wing opposition to the left wing president of the regional council. This local oddity is not, however, the main lesson of yesterday's vote. The very low turnout is, and this tells a lot about the way our political system does and will react to the ongoing energy descent.


One of the problems, as my girlfriend insightfully stated, is that mainstream parties basically all say the same things while demonizing each other over small policy differences. Even the green alliance, of which we are a part, remains within the “business as usual” paradigm. They don't question the unsustainable exuberance of industrial civilization. They just want to power it with renewable technology and, of course, preserve the equally unsustainable individualistic lifestyle of the urban upper middle class.

Needless to say, it is impossible. The coming peak energy means that the resources available to society to fulfill the need of the population are decreasing. Moreover, the fact that all governments on the planet are committed to growth means than none can willingly disengage from globalization. It would be tantamount to unilaterally disarming in the middle of a war : an economical and therefore political suicide. All the ruling elites can do is try to stay afloat in more and more troubled waters and delay the crisis while hoping that growth will somehow save them.

As for the sensible thing : planning for austerity and resilience... it is ideologically and politically impossible. Any politician putting forward such an agenda would immediately relegate himself into the fringe. Besides, politicians are not different, ideologically speaking, from the population they represent. It is only in the mind of conspiracy theorists that senators and councilmen conspire to hide the true state of the world from the people and enslave it into some nightmarish New World Order. In the real world they are every bit as mired in the business as usual ideology as anybody else.

The problem is that this quasi-systemic impotence becomes more and more obvious to the layman and that more and more people become convinced that no matter whom they vote into office, nothing will ever change, or only for the worse. This feeling is bound to become more and more widespread as the crisis deepens and the rift between the voluntarism of the speech and the impotence of action becomes more and more apparent.

This may fuel the growth of extremists groups, but also disillusionment and a slow retreat toward private life which will progressively reduce republics to empty shells. Of course, this can happen only because those institutions which once participated in the formation of public opinion have either disappeared or degenerated into lobbies controlled by their own internal bureaucracy. Even here, in Brittany, where collective life has been better preserved than elsewhere, we are more and more bowling alone.

The results for our political systems is likely to be devastating. Of course, soldiers, policemen and civil servant won't cease obeying because the president has been elected by only 10% of the population, but it will be very easy for extremist or regional groups to contest the legitimacy of the state. Besides, as the effective support of the population becomes less and less obvious, the various factions vying for power within the framework of the institutions, will be more more tempted to resort to violence, and more and more likely to succeed, should they do so.
Obama's Bloody War in Mexico
Why the Death Toll in Juarez Will Continue to Rise

Last Saturday, a US consulate employee and his pregnant wife were gunned down in their SUV in Ciudad Juarez while their seven month old baby watched from the backseat. Just minutes later, another consulate employee was killed at point-blank range in the northern part of the city. Both shootouts took place in broad daylight and were executed with precision, clearly the work of professionals.
Stumbling Through the Graveyard of Empires By DAVID MICHAEL GREEN
Occupation Without Justification A
Welmer, French Philosophette Confronts Tyrant Babies

Although these women may feel liberated, what they are actually doing is shifting their obligations onto the rest of us. As an example, I used to enjoy visiting the local library, but some years ago I noticed it was always full of screaming kids. I asked the librarian what was going on, and she told me that the mothers leave their kids at the library and then go do as they please for a few hours, coming back to pick them up later. The librarians had become de facto daycare providers. I actually asked a guy who was rather high up in the Seattle library administration what they intended to do about this problem, and he said they were working on it.

Eventually, they came up with a compromise. Now, there are still kids in the library, but they are mainly playing free video games on the computers, so they aren’t underfoot quite so much. Additionally, for those of us who like quiet libraries, there are a couple small “study rooms” where one can close the door to shut out the babbling. I saw a librarian tell a teenage girl to stop playing her ipod at a high volume once, and the girl refused and threatened to give the librarian a beating. The librarian was a small woman, so she couldn’t do anything about it. The compromise was obviously a failure. I don’t go to libraries much any longer.

When the new Cupertino Library was built, many of these features were introduced -- there is a rather large study room for teenagers. I do remember a librarian expelling some students from the library for being noisy in other areas of the library, though.
Scott Richert, The Triumph of the Insurance Companies
Transition Culture: Interview with Phillip Blond of ResPublica, author of ‘Red Tory’

Would a more localised world inevitably be a more happy one?

(Sharp intake of breath followed by a pause). I think it depends. I think it tends to. I think a more localised world will be a more effective one, a more engaged one, with a higher degree of social capital, interaction and engagement, but as I said, there’s no turning the clock back, no opposing globalisation. The point is rather to orient globalisation towards augmenting the local rather than eliminating it. I think that can be done. You don’t want to be in a position of producing a politics that won’t happen….

It seems to me that globalization will be a victim of peak oil; corporations do not have the same power as national governments to enforce contracts and maintain control over property, do they?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Becoming a Whole Foods patron

In this Nov. 18, 2009 photo, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is photographed in one of his stores on New York's Upper West Side. (AP/Daylife)

In this Nov. 18, 2009 photo, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey juggles apples as as he's photographed in one of his stores on New York's Upper West Side. (AP/Daylife)

The psalms for today's liturgy (the fifth Sunday of Lent, in the OF) was one of the more militant ones. How is the prayer to be understood? Is there a literal sense to unjust men? Or do we understand such enemies (and the fighting of them) only on a spiritual level? Should we restore a more literal understanding to these psalms, recognizing that there are unjust men who are our enemies, and that praying for their conversion and salvation is compatible with combating their evil? We who live in liberal societies are inclined to shirk from our duty to confront evil and fight it in the name of being "nice" or from a mistaken notion of charity.

Someone brought a friend (bf?) to Mass today -- another interracial couple?

After Mass at STA I gave in and went to In and Out. That was a mistake, but I did not want to wait until later in the afternoon to sate my hunger. While at In and Out I was engaged in people-watching. The patrons of the one on El Camino in Sunnyvale mostly have a different demographic background from those who go to the one in Milpitas, but I don't know if Sarge would enjoy eating at the Sunnyvale one at night, when the teenagers come out, any more than he enjoyed his visit to the Milpitas restaurant.

At In and Out we have members of a dying civilization enjoying themselves on typical American fare: hamburgers, fries, and soda. I count myself among the sheeple, even if I'm a bit more aware about peak oil and the other difficulties of our current political economy. How many of my fellow patrons could I depend upon in a crisis? How many can I trust? I don't know you, so how can I trust you? The default attitude is a lack of trust for strangers. They must prove themselves worthy of trust. In a society where people do not really know each other, friendliness and empathy will only go so far during a crisis that becomes drawn-out. One character has been tested and revealed, people will react and there will be consequences. Ethnic differences only compound this lack of trust because we for the most part stick to our own kind, and so we do not know if people of different ethnicities will consider us to be one of their own. Will they have the same loyalties and affinities as we do? If it is natural to be tribal and to prefer one's people over another, fragmentation will ensue in a diverse society that hits a crisis.

Cheap energy facilities anonymity and an exaggerated and erroneous notion of individual self-sufficiency (as well as the corresponding ignorance of our actual dependence upon others for the necessities of life). We are out of practice with respect to living with others who are not members of our family, and even then, how many of us treat our family members rather poorly?

It is obvious that here in the "civilized" part of California that many are lacking the virtue of gratitude; they don't say, "Thank you," for the small day-to-day courtesies that are shown to them (like holding a door open for them). (This isn't merely a problem limited to certain minorities.) At times I may think that those who are ungrateful were just not raised properly, and it's not their fault. But today I was thinking, how difficult is it to even recognize that one has received a favor to which one is not entitled? So many have an entitlement complex. St. Thomas writes, concerning ingratitude:

It has, however, various degrees corresponding in their order to the things required for gratitude. The first of these is to recognize the favor received, the second to express one's appreciation and thanks, and the third to repay the favor at a suitable place and time according to one's means. And since what is last in the order of generation is first in the order of destruction, it follows that the first degree of ingratitude is when a man fails to repay a favor, the second when he declines to notice or indicate that he has received a favor, while the third and supreme degree is when a man fails to recognize the reception of a favor, whether by forgetting it or in any other way. Moreover, since opposite affirmation includes negation, it follows that it belongs to the first degree of ingratitude to return evil for good, to the second to find fault with a favor received, and to the third to esteem kindness as though it were unkindness.
Those who do not learn to be grateful during desperate times will soon see what the natural consequence of their moral obtuseness is.

Today was the day I was going to check out the prices at the local Whole Foods, or as some have called it "Whole Paycheck." It was my next destination after In and Out. I was hesitant to purchase items there today, even though I had planned to visit the store today for the sake of checking out the prices. Why was it intimidating? I had been to the new store before (the old one had been located just across the street) to pick up some items for KK and my nephew. But it was different this time, since I was shopping for myself. Was I going to commit to a new lifestyle, going organic and hopefully local in the future? It seems like an easy choice, for the health-conscious consumer. But Whole Foods is also associated with other things, as one could see through those who work there and the other patrons. In the end frugality won out as I decided that I should not waste the trip to the store.

Organic Romaine lettuce cost the same as the non-organic lettuce at Safeway or Lucky. I picked up some butter, a dozen eggs, plus 2.5 pounds of ground beef. Enough food for about 2 meals for 3 days. Total bill? Around $20. That's not so bad. I'll see if going organic makes a significant difference for my health.

For now I'll be shopping at Whole Foods when I can, until I am able to shop at farmers markets regularly. I have not visited the local farmers market for a long time. I should also check out Costco's selection of organic food too. But I don't have a membership yet. I don't think Whole Foods will be getting rid of its meat department any time soon...

Interviews with John Mackey, CEO and Founder of Whole Foods:
Food Fighter: Does Whole Foods’ C.E.O. know what’s best for you? by Nick Paumgarten
Whole Foods Health Care: Organic-foods magnate John Mackey talks about his controversial health care proposals, why he was investigated by the feds, and “conscious capitalism.”
An interview with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey
The Conscience of a Capitalist
John Mackey's Whole Foods Vision to Reshape Capitalism
Frank Talk From Whole Foods' John Mackey


60 Minutes: John Mackey: Not Your Average Grocer
Grist interview from 2004

His blog.
Passion and Purpose

Some articles that go back 4 to 5 years:
A whole new ballgame in grocery shopping
The Dark Secrets of Whole Foods
Whole Foods tries to shake 'whole paycheck' image with free value tours


Daniel Defense RIS II

Daniel Defense, Inc | Browse | RIS II: Rail Interface System

Estuary English

Peter Hitchens, Leave it aht, Samanfa...Mrs Cameron's Estuary English typifies a society that mistrusts aspiration and mocks excellence

Neil Saunders:
Surely the whole point about Estuary English is that rather than being a genuine accent it represents a levelling of many genuine accents by a combination of factors: the influence of the mass media (especially, perhaps, the baleful popularisation of a Cockneyfied way of speech on the back of the late 70s punk movement, which has resulted in people as far away as Leeds saying "fink" and "fought", and employing glottal stops); the spread of London outwards into the Home Counties as a result of the overpopulation of the South-East (turning once quite distinct country towns into mere dormitories for the Metropolis), in tandem with the depopulation of rural areas through labour unintensive, "prairie" methods of agriculture; as Peter Hitchens has already pointed out, a kind of aspiration downwards (!) to the level of the kind of culture and society embodied in and exemplified by Radio 1 and Bluewater. (The inexorable outward sprawl of London was noted as early as 1910 by E. M. Forster in Howards End.)

wiki: Estuary English
Estuary English
Estuary English taking over England | Antimoon Forum
Varieties of English
Estuary English
Variation in English

The following are very general:
Wiki: Regional accents of English
The Speech Accent Archive
Listen to English accents
Modern Paleo has pieces about "paleo" lifestyle written from an Objectivist POV and was created by Diana Hsieh.
NLM: An Inside Look at a Polyphony Rehearsal
Fr. Z: REVIEW: New book by Aidan Nichols: Criticising the Critics
Tonight I walked by Kentwood Place -- who is buying the homes here? Rich immigrant families trying to buy a home within the boundaries of the local school districts? Young professionals moving from into that part of San Jose from elsewhere? What is the starting price? The shopping center that used to occupy the spot may not have been much to look at, but it was a part of my personal history...