Saturday, August 14, 2010

Magdalen College

There's a short interview with Tim Van Damm of Magdalen College on Life on the Rock. The archived video will be available until the next episode. The audio for Episode 675 can be found here. Mr. Van Damm discusses the liberal arts program offered at Magdalen -- it uses a Great Books program but modified by Dr. George Harne. There's a new musician in residence at the college, but no info at the website yet. There's also the Sacred Heart House (in Boston) for men. (For vocation discernment?) It's associated with St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine.

A previous appearance: Tim Van Damm on "Life on the Rock" on Vimeo

From last year: Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. with Dr. Jeffrey Karls, President of Magdalen College and Dr. George Harn, Academic Dean of Magdalene College (download)

Mortimer Adler, The Great Ideas
Otto Bird (ND obit)

A lecture by Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B. at Magdalen College, November 18, 2009:

Fr. Cassian Folsom O.S.B. from magdalen college on Vimeo.

Sedes Sapientiae Foundation

Articles by Fr. Cassian:
From One Eucharistic Prayer to Many
Sacred Signs and Active Participation at Mass

British army snipers

Friday, August 13, 2010

Paul Gottfried on contemporary states' rights rhetoric

A Convenient Doctrine
Out of Power, the Republicans Suddenly Discover States' Rights

Since this is an article at Alternative Right, I should mention that Jerry Salyer has some thoughts about the neo-paganism manifested at Alternative Right: Where the Demons Dwell: The Antichrist Right.

Imperial presidency + proposition nation + multiculturalism + ...

= Obama backs mosque near ground zero (AP)

Would George W. Bush have made the same endorsement? Or would he have been more circumspect?

Puts some native Canto speakers to shame..

Via EL--Two White Guys speaking wicked Chinese (Cantonese)

Some others that are at Youtube:

Gregory Rivers, who used to be on TVB alot...

Andrew Bacevich, America's Path to Permanent War

To my surprise, audio for Andrew Bacevich's talk has been uploaded before my post could be completed. You can find it here. No video has been uploaded it yet -- I'll try to finish my blog entry before that becomes available.

30 Giorni interview with Fr. Charles Morerod, O.P.

Byzantine, Texas: The value of a monasticism in Orthodox-Catholic relations

30 Giorni: Il non protagonismo aiuta l’ecumenismo

Education in South Korea

An education paradox
By Aidan Foster-Carter

Hat etiquette

Lewis McCrary, Hats Off!

In East Asian cultures, wearing headgear indoors was mandatory -- one had to keep one's head covered for formal occasions (especially religious ceremonies) and day-to-day business. It was only removed before one went to sleep (or when one was relaxing in the bedroom?). In the East Asian liturgical rites, headgear was permitted for the men because of this custom.


How long can traditionalists in the West hold out? There are plenty of websites that provide information on traditional hat etiquette, which has mostly been forgotten since hats went out of fashion. The baseball cap has become ubiquitous, but other hats are starting to come back into fashion. (The influence of Mad Men?) I suspect that the traditional etiquette will not be recovered, as young men have no reason or incentive to observe it?

Discussion at The Fedora Lounge (link via Art of Manliness).

GQ: The Style Guy
Ask Andy
Jonathon Delacour
Lisa Plancich
Syndi Seid
William M. Briggs

R. J. Stove mentions trilbys, so I had to look it up.

eHow: Picking and Taking Care of Cowboy Hats
Art of Manliness: Old-School Fashion and Choosing Your Hat

Dave Cohen on economists

Economists — The high priests of progress (original)
Dave Cohen, Decline of the Empire
This essay is a follow-up to Monday's The Law Of Civilization And Decay, which you should be familiar with before proceeding. Economist James K. Galbraith posed the question Who Are These Economists, Anyway? Based on the historical investigations of Christopher Lasch, my answer was that they are the High Priests of Progress.

Mr. Cohen mentions one writer whose work is published over at Counterpunch:

Economics became ahistorical. The triumph of Progress was so all-encompassing that there was no longer any need to study past financial crises or past anything else, including the rise & fall of civilizations. The Tech & Housing bubbles best illustrate this blindness. Economists were so sure that nothing could go wrong that they not only ignored the historical lessons of past financial crises that John Kenneth Galbraith laid out in A Short History Of Financial Euphoria, but they also denied that the bubbles were happening, period. Our High Priests would wonder aloud if it was even possible to identify bubbles, or simply praised the apparent "growth" you get as bubbles inflate.

In banishing history & philosophy, economists became mere technicians (sometimes called technocrats) with a very limited perspective regarding how civilizations (or Empires) progress over time. The most famous economic engineers in the Modern Age are former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan and current chairman Ben Bernanke, who has laid out detailed policy arguments in speeches on fighting deflation (helicopter money drops) or the Great Moderation (~1983-2007). It was this period of ever-growing "prosperity"—interrupted only occasionally by mild, brief recessions—that fooled economists into thinking that Progress was inevitable, irreversible, and endless. Ironically, it was during this very period that the events occurred that signify & define the American Empire's decline today.

James Galbraith, who is Kenneth's son and author of The Predator State, acknowledges the great failure of economists to understand what was going on in the period leading up to the crash. He then chooses to focus on those economists who got it right, which is to say, those economists (e.g. Dean Baker, who called the bubbles) whose insights would have led to better policy decisions, thus allowing us to avoid the meltdown. You will notice immediately that Galbraith is arguing inside the box, meaning that Progress is still inevitable, irreversible and endless had only the right policy choices been made, and the right regulatory structures implemented. For Galbraith, since it is never too late to change course, all we need to do now is to revert to Good Policies to set things right, to get us back on the Progress ladder.

To take up Galbraith's faith, you must also believe that all the corruption in Congress (e.g. midnight deregulation), the grotesque wealth inequality in America, our broken, dysfunctional politics, the predatory behavior of all-powerful Finance, the existence of Too-Big-To-Fail, the disconnect between Imperial agendas and what is best for Main Street, the existence of what I call the Money World, the exploding deficits, our unmanageable future entitlements debt, etc, etc. can all be placed at the feet of Bad Policy over the last 30 years. And not just misguided policy, but policy that was also well-intended and sincere whether it emanated from the Left or the Right—policy untainted by the corruption great political power creates. That's a lot to swallow.

Mr. Cohen's criticisms of James Galbraith is applicable to both Dean Baker and Mike Whitney?

David Fridley on urban energy use

Embodied energy: An alternative approach to understanding urban energy use (original)
David Fridley, The Oil Drum
Everyone knows that it takes energy to produce anything. The energy used in mining, transport, processing, manufacturing, delivery, and disposal is “embodied” in every product we consume, from food to diapers to televisions and insurance policies. Our traditional way of looking at energy, however, highlights only current consumption, traditionally disaggregated into agricultural, industrial, transportation, commercial, and residential sectors.

Gene Logsdon, Good Hoes/Bad Hoes

Good hoes/bad hoes (original)
On the good hoe, the angle of blade to handle is more acute, so that when the hoer chops down, the blade meets the earth at a slicing angle--- more easily skims through weeds or soil surface. The muscular effort involved is appreciably less. The old hoe makers knew a thing or two about hoeing that has evidently become lost to new hoe makers.


LaRue Tactical

Spike Tactical 6.8 SPC

Saw an article on it in Special Weapons for Military and Police. (Manufacturer's page here.) Also saw an insert on Spike Tactical's Adjustable Muzzle Brake in the magazine.

A forum for the 6.8 SPC

Paul Craig Roberts: If I had known...

Paul Craig Roberts, The Big Things That Matter

Had Don Regan and I known that the high speed Internet was in our future and that American corporations would use it to destroy the jobs traditionally filled by US university graduates, possibly we would have decided to save the regulated telephone monopoly and to deliver the economy over to stagflation.

The reason is that sooner or later something would have been done about stagflation, but nothing whatsoever has been done about offshoring. Saving the economy from offshoring would have been a greater achievement than saving the economy from stagflation. However, in my time stagflation, not offshoring, was the problem.

I regret that I did not have a crystal ball.

Deregulation proponents will say that the breakup of AT&T gave us cell phones and broadband, as if foreign regulated communication companies and state monopolies do not provide cell phone service or high speed Internet connections. I can remember attending corporate board meetings years ago at which the European members had digital cell phones with which they could call most anywhere on earth, while we Americans with our analogue cell phones could hardly connect down the street.

What deregulation did was to permit Wall Street to push the deregulated industries-- phone service, airlines, trucking, and later Wall Street itself-- to focus on profits and not on service. Profits were increased by curtailing service, by pushing up prices and by Wall Street creating fraudulent financial instruments, which the banksters used America’s reputation to market to the gullible at home and abroad.

Also from Counterpunch:
Winslow T. Wheeler, Talking With Gates About the Defense Budget

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some conversations have only beginnings and middles

That was the catch-phrase for a Blackberry ad I saw today. But if there is no end, can there really be a middle?

Jackie Evancho


It's been a long day, but at least I had the opportunity to see Andrew Bacevich today. A video of his talk will eventually be made available, but I will type up my notes when I get a chance--perhaps later tonight.

It does seem that high fructose corn syrup tastes "sweeter" than cane sugar; I had my fill of that today, and I think I will soon be ready to swear off soda with that as an ingredient. If my mother's flight hadn't been delayed I would have spent less time at In and Out, but I managed to stay awake this afternoon. A visit to the B&N at Tanforan was next; after I picked her up I felt really tired. The inevitable crash in blood sugar level? It seemed different from what I feel during a food coma.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Christopher Tollefsen on the New Natural Law Theory

I've put up a link to the article with some notes about its account of the political common good over at Diligite Iustitiam.

The Archdruid Report: Thinking like an Ecosystem

The Archdruid Report: Thinking like an Ecosystem: "Last week’s post on composting had, as my more perceptive readers will probably have noted, more than one agenda. First on the list, obviou..."

Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity

Energy and Equity (alternate sites: here and here)

The energy crisis

It has recently become fashionable to insist on an impending energy crisis. This euphemistic term conceals a contradiction and consecrates an illusion. It masks the contradiction implicit in the joint pursuit of equity and industrial growth. It safeguards the illusion that machine power can indefinitely take the place of manpower. To resolve this contradiction and dispel this illusion, it is urgent to clarify the reality that the language of crisis obscures: high quanta of energy degrade social relations just as inevitably as they destroy the physical milieu.

The advocates of an energy crisis believe in and continue to propagate a peculiar vision of man. According to this notion, man is born into perpetual dependence on slaves which he must painfully learn to master. If he does not employ prisoners, then he needs machines to do most of his work. According to this doctrine, the well-being of a society can be measured by the number of years its members have gone to school and by the number of energy slaves they have thereby learned to command. This belief is common to the conflicting economic ideologies now in vogue. It is threatened by the obvious inequity, harriedness, and impotence that appear everywhere once the voracious hordes of energy slaves outnumber people by a certain proportion. The energy crisis focuses concern on the scarcity of fodder for these slaves. I prefer to ask whether free men need them.

The energy policies adopted during the current decade will determine the range and character of social relationships a society will be able to enjoy by the year 2000. A low-energy policy allows for a wide choice of life-styles and cultures. If, on the other hand, a society opts for high energy consumption, its social relations must be dictated by technocracy and will be equally degrading whether labeled capitalist or socialist.

At this moment, most societies—especially the poor ones—are still free to set their energy policies by any of three guidelines. Well-being can be identified with high amounts of per capita energy use, with high efficiency of energy transformation, or with the least possible use of mechanical energy by the most powerful members of society. The first approach would stress tight management of scarce and destructive fuels on behalf of industry, whereas the second would emphasize the retooling of industry in the interest of thermodynamic thrift. These first two attitudes necessarily imply huge public expenditures and increased social control; both rationalize the emergence of a computerized Leviathan, and both are at present widely discussed.

The possibility of a third option is barely noticed. While people have begun to accept ecological limits on maximum per capita energy use as a condition for physical survival, they do not yet think about the use of minimum feasible power as the foundation of any of various social orders that would be both modern and desirable. Yet only a ceiling on energy use can lead to social relations that are characterized by high levels of equity. The one option that is at present neglected is the only choice within the reach of all nations. It is also the only strategy by which a political process can be used to set limits on the power of even the most motorized bureaucrat. Participatory democracy postulates low-energy technology. Only participatory democracy creates the conditions for rational technology.

What is generally overlooked is that equity and energy can grow concurrently only to a point. Below a threshold of per capita wattage, motors improve the conditions for social progress. Above this threshold, energy grows at the expense of equity. Further energy affluence then means decreased distribution of control over that energy.

The widespread belief that clean and abundant energy is the panacea for social ills is due to a political fallacy, according to which equity and energy consumption can be indefinitely correlated, at least under some ideal political conditions. Laboring under this illusion, we tend to discount any social limit on the growth of energy consumption. But if ecologists are right to assert that nonmetabolic power pollutes, it is in fact just as inevitable that, beyond a certain threshold, mechanical power corrupts. The threshold of social disintegration by high energy quanta is independent from the threshold at which energy conversion produces physical destruction. Expressed in horsepower, it is undoubtedly lower. This is the fact which must be theoretically recognized before a political issue can be made of the per capita wattage to which a society will limit its members.

Even if nonpolluting power were feasible and abundant, the use of energy on a massive scale acts on society like a drug that is physically harmless but psychically enslaving. A community can choose between Methadone and “cold turkey”—between maintaining its addiction to alien energy and kicking it in painful cramps—but no society can have a population that is hooked on progressively larger numbers of energy slaves and whose members are also autonomously active.

In previous discussions, I have shown that, beyond a certain level of per capita GNP, the cost of social control must rise faster than total output and become the major institutional activity within an economy. Therapy administered by educators, psychiatrists, and social workers must converge with the designs of planners, managers, and salesmen, and complement the services of security agencies, the military, and the police. I now want to indicate one reason why increased affluence requires increased control over people. I argue that beyond a certain median per capita energy level, the political system and cultural context of any society must decay. Once the critical quantum of per capita energy is surpassed, education for the abstract goals of a bureaucracy must supplant the legal guarantees of personal and concrete initiative. This quantum is the limit of social order.

I will argue here that technocracy must prevail as soon as the ratio of mechanical power to metabolic energy oversteps a definite, identifiable threshold. The order of magnitude within which this threshold lies is largely independent of the level of technology applied, yet its very existence has slipped into the blind-spot of social imagination in both rich and medium-rich countries. Both the United States and Mexico have passed the critical divide. In both countries, further energy inputs increase inequality, inefficiency, and personal impotence. Although one country has a per capita income of $500 and the other, one of nearly $5,000, huge vested interest in an industrial infrastructure prods both of them to further escalate the use of energy. As a result, both North American and Mexican ideologues put the label of “energy crisis” on their frustration, and both countries are blinded to the fact that the threat of social breakdown is due neither to a shortage of fuel nor to the wasteful, polluting, and irrational use of available wattage, but to the attempt of industries to gorge society with energy quanta that inevitably degrade, deprive, and frustrate most people.

A people can be just as dangerously overpowered by the wattage of its tools as by the caloric content of its foods, but it is much harder to confess to a national overindulgence in wattage than to a sickening diet. The per capita wattage that is critical for social well-being lies within an order of magnitude which is far above the horsepower known to four-fifths of humanity and far below the power commanded by any Volkswagen driver. It eludes the underconsumer and the overconsumer alike. Neither is willing to face the facts. For the primitive, the elimination of slavery and drudgery depends on the introduction of appropriate modern technology, and for the rich, the avoidance of an even more horrible degradation depends on the effective recognition of a threshold in energy consumption beyond which technical processes begin to dictate social relations. Calories are both biologically and socially healthy only as long as they stay within the narrow range that separates enough from too much.

The so-called energy crisis is, then, a politically ambiguous issue. Public interest in the quantity of power and in the distribution of controls over the use of energy can lead in two opposite directions. On the one hand, questions can be posed that would open the way to political reconstruction by unblocking the search for a postindustrial, labor-intensive, low-energy and high-equity economy. On the other hand, hysterical concern with machine fodder can reinforce the present escalation of capital-intensive institutional growth, and carry us past the last turnoff from a hyperindustrial Armageddon. Political reconstruction presupposes the recognition of the fact that there exist critical per capita quanta beyond which energy can no longer be controlled by political process. A universal social straitjacket will be the inevitable outcome of ecological restraints on total energy use imposed by industrial-minded planners bent on keeping industrial production at some hypothetical maximum.

Rich countries like the United States, Japan, or France might never reach the point of choking on their own waste, but only because their societies will have already collapsed into a sociocultural energy coma. Countries like India, Burma, and, for another short while at least, China are in the inverse position of being still muscle-powered enough to stop short of an energy stroke. They could choose, right now, to stay within those limits to which the rich will be forced back through a total loss of their freedoms.

The choice of a minimum-energy economy compels the poor to abandon fantastical expectations and the rich to recognize their vested interest as a ghastly liability. Both must reject the fatal image of man the slaveholder currently promoted by an ideologically stimulated hunger for more energy. In countries that were made affluent by industrial development, the energy crisis serves as a pretext for raising the taxes that will be needed to substitute new, more “rational,” and socially more deadly industrial processes for those that have been rendered obsolete by inefficient overexpansion. For the leaders of people who are not yet dominated by the same process of industrialization, the energy crisis serves as a historical imperative to centralize production, pollution, and their control in a last-ditch effort to catch up with the more highly powered. By exporting their crisis and by preaching the new gospel of puritan energy worship, the rich do even more damage to the poor than they did by selling them the products of now outdated factories. As soon as a poor country accepts the doctrine that more energy more carefully managed will always yield more goods for more people, that country locks itself into the cage of enslavement to maximum industrial outputs. Inevitably the poor lose the option for rational technology when they choose to modernize their poverty by increasing their dependence on energy. Inevitably the poor deny themselves the possibility of liberating technology and participatory politics when, together with maximum feasible energy use, they accept maximum feasible social control.

The energy crisis cannot be overwhelmed by more energy inputs. It can only be dissolved, along with the illusion that well-being depends on the number of energy slaves a man has at his command. For this purpose, it is necessary to identify the thresholds beyond which energy corrupts, and to do so by a political process that associates the community in the search for limits. Because this kind of research runs counter to that now done by experts and for institutions, I shall continue to call it counterfoil research. It has three steps. First, the need for limits on the per capita use of energy must be theoretically recognized as a social imperative. Then, the range must be located wherein the critical magnitude might be found. Finally, each community has to identify the levels of inequity, harrying, and operant conditioning that its members are willing to accept in exchange for the satisfaction that comes of idolizing powerful devices and joining in rituals directed by the professionals who control their operation.

My first thoughts: some of the statements need to be developed -- the relation of energy to equity may sound too abstract and mechanistic. Illich seems focus primarily on conditions that were then current (197). "Certain social conditions require a so that b can be brought about." What needs to be discussed is the use of energy by the few in the past to concentrate political and economic power through the removal of economic freedom from the rest, and so on, thus leading to the current situation. This would reinforce the thesis that historically, "capitalism" has always necessitated that the state to acquire more and more power (in order to preserve some semblance of 'peace' or a false 'peace').

I'll try to continue reading this later today, after I get some real work done.

No more marketing of the pope, please.

Damian Thompson: Papal visit CD: musical atrocities that make the Birdie Song sound like Mozart

I thought there would be a stop to pope merchandise after the passing of John Paul II, but CDs and such continue to be sold. Who over at the Vatican is agreeing to this? Do they ever consider that this may cause a loss of respect for the office and for the "institution"? How do they square this with Pope Benedict XVI's warnings about consumerism?
Bluegrass Blog: Steve Martin: Bluegrass over Comedy? (the youtube video)

Elizabeth Anscombe, "War and Murder"


"Mr. Truman's Degree"

Uhmerican adultlescent hyper-consumption

Karen De Coster on The Mother of All Bubble Businesses.

To argue for the other side: "Conventional wisdom" is that savings is good, but if growth is only in service jobs, then isn't consumption necessary so that everyone has a living?

Is a certain amount of socioeconomic levelling unavoidable in a postindustrial economy?

But if production is the base of the economy, upon which the service sector is dependent, then the base needs to be shored up and reinvigorated, not moved overseas.

But even if those jobs could be brought back, is it possible that a limited supply of cheap energy will require that it be replaced by human energy in all forms of production?

Just some thoughts at 12 in the morning.

The 34th Annual SFEMS Concert Season

The San Francisco Early Music Society has a blog. This is a list of concerts for the coming season, and the first concert will feature Paul O'Dette and Ellen Hargis.

An interview with Paul O'Dette.

Eric Herm interview

Be the Change Radio: Interview with Eric Herm, author of Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth. (mp3)
Mother Nature News: Report: China's hold on rare minerals could make us rethink energy race

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dawn Eden releases free copy of Theology of the Body thesis on CNA

Dawn Eden releases free copy of Theology of the Body thesis on CNA (h/t to Mary Victrix and Dawn Eden)

More on the atomic bombings

Mr. Auster responds (and even mentions my post at his blog):

I had forgotten that the Church has an official position denouncing the use of the A bomb on Japan in World War II. When did it announce this position?

Is it also the Church's official position that if a doomed hijacked airliner were about to crash into the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. authorities could not shoot it down to save the Capitol and the thousands of lives on the ground, because it would be immoral to kill the innocent passengers on the plane, even though they were about to die anyway? I ask, because the same reasoning that the writers at 4W use to arrive at that position, they also use to denounce the dropping of the A bomb on Japan. Indeed, by the same logic the WWWW writers also argue that if a hijacked airliner with 50 people aboard and armed with an atomic bomb were about to crash into Washington D.C., the U.S. authorities could not shoot it down to save the city and tens of thousands of people who would be killed by the atomic blast, because it would be immoral to kill the 50 innocent passengers on the plane, even though they were about to die anyway.

I just want to be sure which positions one must have in order to be a traditionalist. I didn't know that traditionalism requires a society to accept the destruction of a city and the deaths of ten thousands in order to killing one innocent person who is about to die in any case.
I found something through Opinionated Catholic -- a collection by Dave Armstrong of various statements by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, mixed with texts by popes, bishops, and Catholic theologians on the limits of aggression during war. The judgments of particular acts by individual popes may not be infallible, but like their judgement of the Iraq War, they should be respected and considered. These judgments are the application of Church teaching, and the Church teaches that to indiscriminately destroy whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is wrong (see CCC 2314).

Is the shooting down of a hijacked airplane permissible under the principle of double effect? It seems like it might be. (With the proviso that all other options to prevent the airplane from being used as a weapon have been exhausted or do not exist?) Zippy apparently does not understand what the object of an action, relying upon Veritatis Splendor instead of a treatise of moral theology. At least this is his state of mind in August of 2007. I have not looked through his blog but I would assume that his posts from 2007 are representative of the best in Catholic moral theology. Consult instead Stephen Brock's explication of the relevant passage of VS on moral object. See also his Action and Conduct: Thomas Aquinas and the Theory of Action on the principle of double-effect. (Chris Kaczor's Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition is a good reference comparing consequentialism with the Natural Law tradition. I still have to read through Tom Cavanaugh's Double-Effect Reasoning [Google Books].)

If Zippy is wrong about whether it is permissible to shoot down a passenger airplane, he may still be right (and I think he is) about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I believe that the moral objects of the shooting of the plane and the bombing are different, but I will not attempt to argue for this here.

(Regarding the dropping of pamphlets prior to the bombing of Hiroshima, someone links to this statement by a group of historians denying that it happened. Even if it did happen (with the expectation that the city would be mostly or completely deserted) , the bombing would probably still be wrong according to Catholic teaching since it is wrong to target and destroy civilian infrastructure.)

WWWTW discussion in August 2007
Jimmy Akin's article for the National Catholic Register
Atomic Anniversay by Allen Mendenhall
National Catholic Register editorial from a few years ago
Nuclear Weapons and Morality: An Unequivocal Position
Catholic Answers
WSJ: Google Agonizes on Privacy as Ad World Vaults Ahead (via Whiskey's Place)

That particular slide describes the importance of breaking into the lucrative business of selling "display" ads, which are larger ads with pictures, as opposed to smaller text ads. Today, Google still trails market leader Yahoo in U.S. display-ad revenue, according to analysts.

Google still leads the Internet pack overall, of course. Its revenue, $23.7 billion in 2009, is more than three times Yahoo's, its closest competitor. Its online advertising business is growing faster than those of its publicly held U.S. rivals.

But Google's revenue growth has slowed dramatically. And social-networking powerhouse Facebook is a widening threat with its ability to sell highly targeted ads to its more than 500 million users.

Facebook fears run deep at Google, which is designing its own social-networking service. In a sign of how quickly things change, the 2008 vision statement scarcely mentioned social networks.

A competing social-networking service? Could it compete with Facebook by protecting privacy instead of finding ways to sell user data?

It seems that those who wish to preserve a normal life (and their privacy) will have to disconnect from the Internet as much as possible.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood

a new TV show about the US Marshals is getting ready to debut this Fall season: Chase, on NBC. And of course, the main character is a woman. I suppose it will be different from USA's In Plain Sight by focusing on the capture of fugitives rather than witness protection. And what is with the casual look being sported by the women (and the men) on these two shows? (Another example: supposed FBI agent Erica Evans on the new V.) Has the Federal Government relaxed its dress code? Gone is the professional look of Agents Mulder and Scully on The X-Files.

Is the lack of femininity in the characters due to "acting," or have American actresses not been brought up to be feminine? My guess is that the latter is generally the cause. Nonetheless, this aspect may add to the plausibility of the shows (in contrast to East Asian dramas) and succeed in strengthening radical egalitarian propaganda.

Still, sooner or later the actresses give the impression that they are trying hard, and they slip back into girly mode when their characters are dealing with interpersonal drama. (I.e., stunted development.)

Kelli Giddish stars as a tough-talkin' U.S. marshal in this adrenalized action series from Jerry Bruckheimer. (source)

Here is a quick preview from NBC:

Will it surive longer than ABC's Karen Sisco? I'd take Justified over Chase, even though Justified has its weaknesses.

TV Guide Fall Preview



Maybe Monday was a bad day to channel surf, and ABC the wrong network to watch, but I was angered once again by the plethora of American boy-men on TV and in the movies. Justin Long, I'm talking about you--I saw the commercial for his and Drew Barrymore's Going the Distance -- are they showing the maturity of the typical American 30-something couple? It is sad if they are truly representative. ABC's line up on Monday consisted of two reality shows, Bachelor Pad and Dating in the Dark, and the commercials were primarily geared at women -- I was surprised to see a commercial for Piranha 3D.

I suspect Won Bin's new movie, 아저씨 (The Man From Nowhere) will do well at the Box Office in Korea and Japan. Its story is like a combination of elements from The Professional and Taken (and Man on Fire). Is there a happy ending for this one? It may all be about image, but Won Bin seems to have made the transition out of his previous pretty boy image to that of the mature man, something that Leonardo di Caprio hasn't been as successful as doing. (I should be watching Inception this week, so my opinion may yet change.) Many have complained that Hollywood has to import male actors from Australia and the U.K. in order to boost the testosterone of the acting, and this seems right. Tom Cruise is nearing 50 and while he still looks young he doesn't give off the vibe of being a mature male. George Clooney may be the only one who can pull that off, with his charm and charisma and the gray hair.

The reality may be much different, but the masculine ideal continues to live in Korean cinema if not in Korean young men. I don't see how the movie won't attract Won Bin's female fans -- the solitary tough male who is recuperating from some trauma, and yet is soft enough to take care of a girl.

Watch the MV and trailers for the movie at Han Cinema (or at the official site?).

Peak Generation's tribute to Matthew Simmons

Matthew Simmons: a tribute (original)
Matthew Wild, Peak Generation
Energy Investment banker and leading peak oil proponent Matthew Simmons died suddenly on Sunday [Aug. 8], following an apparent heart attack. While Simmons did not come up with the idea of peak oil – geophysicist M King Hubbert first published the theory in the 1950s -- he arguably did more than anyone to publicize it. It was Simmons' 2005 classic Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, that turned discussion of peak oil from a fringe environmental concern into something with business pages credibility.

Also from Energy Bulletin:
The law of civilization and decay (original)
Dave Cohen, Decline of the Empire
It just so happened that I've been reading Christopher Lasch's The True And Only Heaven: Progress and It's Critics when a friend sent me Philip Mirowski's The Great Mortification Economist's Responses to the Crisis of 2007-(and counting). This latter article led me to James K. Galbraith's Who Are These Economists, Anyway?...I will go a small but significant way toward answering this question today in the first of a series of essays on where we stand in the Modern Age. I can only touch on the main concepts today.

Gareth Porter, Serial Denial on Iraq and Afghanistan

The Permanent War System Rolls On
This refusal to face up to reality that the United States cannot succeed in Afghanistan, despite all the evidence to the contrary, suggests that something much deeper is going on here. Wolf and his fellow deniers in the political elite are not just refusing to give up on the specific war in Afghanistan. They are doing it because they are desperately clinging to the broader system of global military hegemony which impels the U.S. national security state to continue that war.

In his latest book, Washington Rules, historian Andrew Bacevich points to this largely un-discussed aspect of recent U.S. wars. The “Washington rules” to which the title refers are the basic principles of U.S. global policy that have been required beliefs for entrance into the U.S. political elite ever since the United States became a superpower. The three rules are U.S. global military presence, global projection of U.S. military power and the use of that power in one conflict after another.

Bacevich suggests that personal and institutional interests bind the U.S. political elite and national security bureaucrats to that system of global military dominance. The politicians and bureaucrats will continue to insist on those principles, he writes, because they “deliver profit, power and privilege to a long list of beneficiaries: elected and appointed officials, corporate executives and corporate lobbyists, admirals and generals, functionaries staffing the national security apparatus, media personalities and policy intellectuals from universities and research organizations.”
There are still believers among Obama's voters who think he will get the troops out soon. I'm willing to grant Obama the moral and political victory, if he did the right thing.

Edit. Ron Paul, The Cycle of Violence in Afghanistan

"We have done enough damage in Afghanistan, both to the Afghan people, and to ourselves. It’s time to re-evaluate the situation. It’s time to come home."

Also from Counterpunch:
John V. Walsh, Fighting Back Against ObamaCare
Twitch: TIFF 2010: HOW TO START YOUR OWN COUNTRY Is Disturbingly Familiar ...

Info on the 2005 miniseries:
Danny Wallace, Citizens Required

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

The Thinking Housewife: When Children Were Groomed

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

Homesteader and his children eating barbeque at the New Mexico Fair. Pie Town, New Mexico, October 1940. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Russell Lee. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Luigi Boccherini: Fandango - Quintet for strings, guitar & castanets n. 4 in D major (G. 448)
Sandro Magister, The Encyclical on Faith Has Already Been Painted, by Raphael
Instead of a new encyclical, Benedict XVI is writing the third volume of his trilogy on Jesus. With the Transfiguration on Tabor as its focal point. A liturgist and a theologian explain why

Are more encyclicals from Benedict XVI really necessary for the Church? I hope he will complete volume 3 relatively soon. May the Holy Spirit guide the Holy Father in renewing the Church.

Merrell Barefoot

Merrell Goes Barefoot For 2011 (via Free the Animal)

A photo of the new shoe:

Go to the post for more.

Merrell Barefoot Collection: Let Your Feet Lead You
Merrell & Vibram Introduce Merrell Barefoot for 2011
Merrell Barefoot Collection

Matthew J. Franck on Judge Walker's ruling

Same-Sex Marriage and the Assault on Moral Reasoning by Matthew J. Franck (via Robert George)
A regular reader of a certain blog now has her own: Minarchy.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Johann N. Hummel, Sonata for fortepiano and mandolin in C major, Op. 37a, Andante moderato siziliano

Two on Iran from Asia Times

Eyes on the skies over Iran's reactor
Iran has reportedly shot down drones to test the defense systems at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to open soon. By becoming operational the facility will affirm Iran's right to develop and utilize nuclear technology, and increase the possibility of an Israeli attack. There are only a few weeks before nuclear fuel arrives, after which an attack would carry with it far too many risks. - Marsha B Cohen

'Double swap' points to peace
The United States and Iran have reached a crucial fork in their troubled relationship. One road points toward an escalation of conflict, the other to peace. As talk of war mounts there is a glimmer of hope it can be avoided if progress is made on a nuclear fuel swap agreement and if there is a successful negotiation of an exchange of prisoners. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Gabe Suarez, The Case For Two Guns (see also Managing The “X” and CONTACT SHOOTING WITH A PISTOL )

From the third:

I will begin by saying that I hate ground fighting. I am forty-nine years old and hate rolling around on an asphalt surface getting my clothes ripped and my elbows and knees ground onto the concrete. I hate it but I cannot ignore it. With the rise in popularity of the UFC and the prevalence of Brazilian Ju Jitisu, the idea of fighting on the ground has become a reality and likelihood regardless of your exposure and training. Like it or not, the complete fighter must have an understanding of ground fighting as much as an understanding of knives and other things not associated with the sterile shooting range.

In my opinion, the most important thing when fighting on the ground is to find a way to get back up. Unlike the sporting arena, you won't be facing one guy alone. While you are putting some sort of arm bar or whatever on the one adversary, and that is taking for granted that you are better at this than he, his buddies will walk up behind you and stomp your brains out of your skull and into the gutter. The ground is NOT where you want to be in the real world, so avoid it.

Lawrence Auster calls himself a traditionalist but defends the atomic bombing of Japan and consequentialism, against Edward Feser. With no Magisterium, Sacred Tradition, or moral theology with a significant history to ground it, what sort of traditionalism is it really?

Mr. Auster explains his conservatism in this post, but if he is pursuing truth, isn't he the ultimate arbiter of whether truth has been attained? But the Catholic Church has received from Christ the authority to teach on Natural Law and morals. He doesn't accept the authority of the Catholic Church (no doubt he would reject its denunciations of the atomic bombings), but to whom does he turn for assurance that he has received Christ's teachings in their completeness? How can he defend consequentialism, especially when its development and strength is an effect of liberalism?

Full of Grace, Seasoned with Salt: What Vodka Can Teach Us About Women

Full of Grace, Seasoned with Salt: What Vodka Can Teach Us About Women

Harpers article on having a CCW

Cop in the Hood: Happiness is a Worn Gun

The full article is available by subscription only, but the author has his own blog.

Karen De Coster on the Food Safety Bill

Government to Regulate Your Whole Life. Again.

Catholic coeducation

An update to this post.

KJJ writes on FB for JC: "Pius XI's encyclical was basically overturned on this point by a CDF decree in the 1950s that co-education was permissible for 'grave' reasons."

I did a search online and found this comment left at the SPLC (bah): The Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Religious on Co-Education, A.A.S., 25 (1958) pp. 99-103.

It'd be nice to have access to the full text.

Gender, Coeducation, and the Transformation of Catholic Identity in American Catholic Higher Education

English translation of Denzinger here?

How well is feminism in East Asia reflected in its television?

Lst night I watched the first 10 minutes or so of the Japanese version of Cold Case, Zettai Reido: Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa (絶対零度). The show seems less like a realistic procedural and more like a genteel British TV mystery, along the lines of Miss Marple. It doesn't help that the main character is played by the Japanese idol Aya Ueto. It is hard to give her character much credibility as a real police detective, since she is trying to be the typically "cute" Japanese female.

Korean and Japanese dramas suffer from a lack of realism when the writers are focused more on the interpersonal drama. A realistic depiction may not be their primary aim. For example, there is the current Legend of the Patriots (which, like Iris, might work better as a wuxia story). The romantic comedy Secret Agent Miss Oh was laughable (in a bad way) because it was an attempt at a romantic comedy within a story revolving around agents of a S. Korean intelligence agency. Then there was the aforementioned Iris -- while the series had many fans in S. Korea, I thought the lack of plausibility in the portrayal of intelligence work impacted the quality of the drama. (The producers could have learned a lesson or two from 24, and if you are familiar with 24, that comment should tell you a lot about Iris.)

Given the lack of credibility to the story, it is difficult to see these dramas as vehicles of feminism. But nonetheless they do normalize the image of a career woman working in formerly all-male professions. The other day I saw a short documentary about female S. Korean police officers (cadets?) in training. At the completion of their training, they were doing the "v" sign, which I did not think was professional or serious, but girly. If male cadets were to do the same thing, I would think that they have been emasculated to an even greater degree, not knowing what is proper for their self-image.

(I note that in a recent episode of Invincible Youth the Korean singers went to a tank base and the soldiers there seemed young, but more masculine than their peers who work in the Korean entertainment industry. It was also interesting to note that when they got some camera time to say something to their families, they were usually reassuring their families that they would be doing their best and so on. Based on my experience with the American military, I'd say it's very different from the messages and image that American soldiers present to their families. One could say that the Koreans are very family-oriented, but I also think that in comparison with Americans, they are rather infantalized because East Asian parents are too dominant in their lives. Being drafted in the military may toughen them up a bit, but it will not help develop republican virtue.)

Have women in Asia not been defeminized as quickly as those in the United States? I've seen some of the Hong Kong policewomen who cary firearms, and they do resemble nam yan po (mannish). Sure, they are not allowed to wear makeup, or only very little, while on duty, but their demeanor is not very femenine. Those who would go into such professions would probably tend to be nam yan po to begin with--it's very different from one sees in movies and television shows. As such societies enter the late stages of "capitalism" will radical egalitarianism take greater hold? How much longer can a family-centered ethic hold? It seems to be disappearing already in the big cities of East Asia. While most E. Asian women have it beat into their heads that they should marry young, more are content being single for a while, having small families after they marry, and returning to the workforce as soon as possible. (It may be even more of an economic necessity than it is here in the U.S., but do they consider the consequences for their children?)

How is East Asian feminism different from American feminism? Does it focus less on the "negative" (patriarchy, oppression, and so on) and more on the "positive" (equality)?

Two different plans of action featured at Alt Right

Spirit and Resistance: Vive la Contre-Révolution by Mark Hackard

What Is to Be Done After Gay Marriage by Andy Nowicki

Sustainability and happiness

Via EB: State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability (pdf)
WorldWatch Insitute

Funny films for happiness and wellbeing by Cecile Andrews

Robert George, What happens when judges decree instead of deliberate

Washington Examiner

Matt Simmons passes away

EB: Urgent press release re: Matt Simmons

Entrevista a D. José Antonio Fortea, sacerdote y exorcista

Sarge, you might like this...

Restoring Mayberry: Cob

Restoring Mayberry: Cob

Tea at Trianon: Michelle Obama is Marie-Antoinette?

Tea at Trianon: Michelle Obama is Marie-Antoinette?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Ciceronian Society

Peter Haworth, Become a member of the Ciceronian Society and present papers via its future panels at the APSA (h/t to Lewis McCrary)

Coro de Cámara Alonso Lobo, O vos omnes (T.L. de Victoria)

Hawaiian Libertarian: Valedictorian: "I have successfully shown that I was the best slave."

The text of the speech by Erica Goldson at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010. (scribd)
Welmer, Male Expendability and the Nature of Tribes

From the beginning, humans have lived in tribes, which are somewhat akin to groups of chimpanzees, cooperating to provide food, childcare, labor and dissemination of information. The family, in its varied forms, was always subordinate to the tribe, and the tribe often in conflict with other tribes. Humans have competed with each other for resources and territory from the dawn of history and before, and they have usually done so through some sort of tribal conflict. Usually, the more numerous tribe would win, because it could summon more men and defeat the other by force of numbers, but because the ideal human group is relatively small – some 50-100 individuals – summoning a larger force required relatively complex rules and strong taboos to maintain any sort of social cohesion. Hence the seeds of civilization were sown through tribal competition.

Despite the addition of all this complexity, which has enabled humans to live in mass societies, the basic tribal tendency remains part of human nature. And in a tribe, the most important component has always been the men. Without them, there is only booty, free for the taking for any group of men willing to come along and claim it. In fact, this has been the case for so long that patrilocality is the norm throughout the world. Exogamy in primitive tribes is exceedingly common, but it is usually the women who leave one group and go to another — this is reflected in our modern practice of women and children taking the husband’s surname. The men stay, because without them the group would simply be swallowed up by others.

Catholic dualists

To deny that there are differences between men and women in how they think, materialists and feminsits must be "subtle" in attacking the data. (One strategem is to argue that since not all of one sex exhibit a trait to the nth degree that therefore this trait is not more exemplary of one sex than another. That is to say, a distribution curve is insufficient--one is needed is two distinct and sharp peaks.) In contrast, it is likely that Catholic egalitarians, no matter how much they may criticize Descartes for being a father of modernity, must partially embrace a form of dualism that is similar to his if they are to dismiss the generalizations that have been made about the cognitive differences between men and women. They may claim to accept the hylomorphic account of the relation of soul to body, but on this point they become a dualists. They have to argue that because the soul is equal in all that all reason equally or in the same way.

They may acknowledge that there are differences in the exercise of the intellect or intellectual performance, as some are clearly more intelligent than others, but the power is the same in all. Now I think some distinctions need to be made. While the intellectual power may be the same in all, it is not exercised, in this life, by itself, but in conjunction with the sense powers. It is also influenced by other factors, such as one's emotions. The conjunction of body and soul is not something that is accidental to our way of reasoning in this life. That the body may have a regular (and not necessarily determintal) influence on how we reason may be part of God's design--sex differences in reasoning are "natural."
Last night I went to Korea Palace with RHK, his gf, her brother, and her brother's gf (who is half-Taiwanese, half-Japanese). The kalbi and bulgogi was very good, better than what one gets at Palace... but it's also much more expensive. It was good to be able to see his mom. Maybe I will go to Gate of Heaven again next Saturday.

Afterwards we dropped by Fantasia Santana Row -- Santana Row was packed with people. RHK said that even in 2008 and 2009 Santana Row was packed. Will the story change soon? The prices at this Fantasia are a little bit higher than the other ones, given its location. I ordered a mango slush which didn't have much flavor -- some creamy taste, but not much mango flavor.

Me nephew still hasn't learned how to say kau kau. He calls me and other things "dook dook." KK said that when he sees my picture he will say "dook dook."