Saturday, November 06, 2010

Quiet Professionals

While I was in NC last month, I had ty to spend some time with Mr. C and his family. On Columbus Day, Sarge and I went over to Mr. C's friend and comrade-in-arms, Mr. V. They exemplified the quiet professionals 
in the U.S. Army, humble, down-to-earth, highly skilled due to the training, and, this might surprise those who have a low opinion of the military, quite intelligent. They represent the best of U.S. Army Special Forces. Mr. V went over some basic shooting drills with me, especially aiming and hitting the target. I wish I could have spent more time on the M4, but the rifle kept jamming. (Sarge now thinks its was operator error, and not the ammo.) I wish I could do more of that--I hope I can make it out there again next year.

Later, on serveral occasions, I asked Mr. C about shooting schools and instructors. Regarding a certain CAG gunsmith who recently inaugurated a program for affiliated instructors, he said "He's not that guy." I also showed him some of the trailers for the Magpul Dynamics videos, and he was not impressed, pointing out some mistakes in what they were teaching. I asked him: Given the number of shooting instructors out there, what should one be looking for in a shooting instructor? One should check his resume and see what sort of experience he has an instructor -- whether he's taught for the military, Feds, or a local law enforcement agency. One should also see if he's taken any courses taken at a military or Federal school. In a more "personal" community, seeking a master might be easier (with the use of endorsements, lineages, and schools), but when a polity gets too big... what else can one do but evalute teachers based on their resumes/professional histories?

Mr. C was also talking about hunting, and comparing the skills he acquired in SF training and SERE -- surviving, capturing animals, dressing them, preserving them, etc. He brought the topic up because some of the men working in his house "hunt" regularly and asked if he did the same. (He doesn't.) His comment to us: they may be able to hunt and stick a body in a freezer, but could they rough it without cheap energy and electric appliances? Probably not. They're "city folk living in the country." So much of this valuable knowledge has been lost because of "modernization." He doesn't think of himself as a survivalist but as someone who is prepared in case of a major disaster or emergency.

Judging from the military men I've met, I think it is a fair characterization to say that many of the older ones at least are not traditional conservatives, though they may be "conservatives" or Republicans. Being transplants, few of them have a sense of home or being rooted in a community, and they tend to associate primarily with other people who are in the military. They might seem to have a Yankee mindset with respect to the national government and their understanding of the Constitution and the United States as a unitary nation-state, but they might not walk lock-step with Yankees or the Republicans. They might be more critical and open-minded and learning more about tradition? Though they live in the South, they may not have much regard for the locals, unless they are originally from the South. Of those that I've met, few question our foreign policy goals or interventionism?

Special Forces Memorial
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command Website
Special Forces Groups

Special Forces Training
Peter Hitchens, Wednesday Night's Debate:

The reason for this feeling of queasy discomfort is of course that Britain has in the last century ceased to be a Christian country in anything but name.

We don’t read the Bible. We don’t go to Church. We don’t believe the Creeds. We don’t sing hymns. We don’t think Christ rose again or that there is a life beyond the grave.

And we think that those who do think this are rather weird.

Take me, for instance. Hardly a week passes by without someone describing me as a ‘Devout Christian’?

You might think that I go about with a barbed-wire garter tightly wrapped round my upper thigh.

Or that I end each evening, after beating my children severely, by reciting two or three long, penitential psalms.

No, I am not remotely devout by the standards of any age. I am an ordinary backslider, who loses his temper and eats too much and does many other wrong things each day between sunrise and sunset.

But I attract this nonsensical description simply because I openly say that I am a Christian believer. Such people are so rare in my generation and my milieu that the assumption is that we must be fanatical, pious and in many other important ways bizarre.

This came about mainly because of the decline of Christian faith, common to most of Western Europe but particularly severe here. This was caused mainly, in my view, by the First World War, foolishly and wrongly supported by the churches of Europe.

But the fading of faith was not specially welcomed by those among whom it faded, and it suited most people to continue to behave as if we were still a Christian country. What’s more, many who did not believe in God recognised the social benefits of faith, and were happy to see its outward forms observed.

Now we have reached a new stage.

One. Christianity is in conflict with the modern attempts to replace it – specifically the ‘Human Rights’ movement which is a substitute for a God who has been officially declared dead in Europe (note His absence from the EU constitution despite the undoubted fact that ‘Europe’, a political entity, is an entirely Christian construct) gives the liberal state – or liberal supranational institutions – the supreme power to order the unruly wills and affections of competing pressure groups, and their conflicting desires.

And also with the modern state ideology of ‘equality and diversity’ not only a respectable name for political correctness but also the title of a more or less Marxist ideology.

Two. Christianity’s message is specifically unwelcome to many people, most particularly because it tells them that there are some things they cannot rightfully do, which they would like to do without any feelings of guilt.

Damian Thompson: Report: Archbishop of Canterbury 'to announce conversion of two bishops to Rome on Monday'
Dave Collard, who leaves comments at The Spearhead and at various blogs like Oz Conservative, has a blog -- so far he's just tracking his comments, but maybe he will write an essay or two about how married men should exercise leadership.

The Chief Narcissist

That's what I can't help about President Obama but think reading these entries by Lawrence Auster on his explanation of why the Democrats lost so many seats on Tuesday:
Obama’s alternative reality
Obama’s denial-what does it mean?
The lesson
“Why he’ll never be Barack Obama again”
A bigger liar than Clinton, but not nearly as smooth
How Obama’s closest friends and supporters see him
Obama mercilessly hammered—by the media

Sarah Palin shows her true colors.

The Thinking Housewife: Palin Calls Traditionalists “Neanderthals” and Feminism’s Fear of the Past.

Now, we knew she was a feminist, didn't we?
Sandro Magister: First Mass in the Sagrada Família: The Pope Beatifies Gaudí

Benedict XVI is going to Barcelona to consecrate the masterpiece basilica. And he is proposing it as a model for modern builders of churches. A visitor's guide to the astonishing edifice

Reba McEntire - Turn On The Radio

Catchy melody, even if the lyrics are a bit racy.
Daniel Larison, The Idol of American Exceptionalism, Dangers of Americanism and Democratism, and Patriotism vs. American Exceptionalism
CNN: Witness to violence: A photographer's journey below the border

Friday, November 05, 2010

How the Left Won the Cold War
By Paul E. Gottfried

The following address was delivered to the HL Mencken Club's annual meeting in Baltimore, October 22, 2010. I’m often asked why there is need for an independent or non-aligned Right.…

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Economy: The competitiveness of local living economies
Michael Shuman, Post Carbon Institute 

Economic localization offers the key to solving a growing number of global problems, including peak oil, climate disruption, and financial meltdowns. Yet the perception remains that this solution is very costly, because local goods and services supposedly are more expensive than their global alternatives.
In fact, local goods and services are already competing remarkably well in the marketplace—and they are likely to do better in the near future. This chapter lays out why cost effectiveness actually is a reason to embrace localization and argues that the only thing standing in the way of localization flourishing is, oddly, policy-makers committed to propping up increasingly noncompetitive global corporations.

Elizabeth Lev on Of Gods and Men

Zenit: Film Festival Honors Monks; Gaudì's Sagrada Familia

Bande Annonce Des Hommes et des Dieux de Xavier Beauvois
Uploaded by sortiescinema. - Watch feature films and entire TV shows.

Zenit: Benedict XVI's Q and A With Catholic Action Youth [2010-10-31]
"The Strength of God's Love Can Accomplish Great Things in You"

Young woman's question: Your Holiness, our teachers in Catholic Action tell us that to grow up it is necessary to learn to love, but often we fail and we suffer in our relationships, in our friendships, in our first loves. But what does it mean to love totally? How can we learn to love truly?

Benedict XVI: A great question. It is very important, I would say fundamental, to learn to love, truly to love, to learn the art of real love! In adolescence we stop before the mirror and we notice that we are changing. But if you continue to look at yourself, you will never grow up! You grow up when you do no longer let the mirror be the only truth about you but when you let your friends tell you. You will grow up if you are able to make your life a gift to others, not to seek yourselves, but to give yourselves to others: this is the school of love. This love, however, must bring you into that "more" that today shout to everyone. "There is more!" As I have already said, I too, in my youth wanted something more than what the society and the mentality of the time presented to me. I wanted to breathe pure air, above all I desired a beautiful and good world, like our God, the Father of Jesus, wanted for everyone. And I understood more and more that the world becomes beautiful and good if one knows this will of God and if the world corresponds to this will of God, which is the true light, beauty, love that gives the world meaning.

It is quite true: You cannot and must not adapt yourselves to a love reduced to a commodity to be consumed without respect for oneself or for others, incapable of chastity and purity. This is not freedom. Much of the "love" that is proposed by the media, on the internet, is not love but egoism, closure, it gives you the illusion of a moment, but it does not make you happy, it does not make you grow up, it binds you like a chain that suffocates more beautiful thoughts and sentiments, the true desires of the heart, that irrepressible power that is love and that has its maximum expression in Jesus and strength and fire in the Holy Spirit, who enflames your lives, your thoughts, your affections. Of course it demands sacrifice to live love in the true way -- without renunciation one does not find this road -- but I am certain that you are not afraid of the toil of a challenging and authentic love. It is the only kind that, in the final analysis, gives true joy! There is a test that tells you whether your love is growing in a healthy way: If you do not exclude others from your life, above all your friends who are suffering and alone, people in difficulty, and if you open your heart to the great friend Jesus.

Catholic Action also teaches you the roads to take to learn authentic love: participation in the life of the Church, of your Christian community, loving your friends in the Children's Catholic Action group, in Catholic Action, availability to those of your age at school, in the parish or in other environments, the company of the Mother of Jesus, Mary, who knows how to guide your heart and lead you along the way of good. Moreover, in Catholic Action, you have many examples of genuine, beautiful, true love: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Alberto Marvelli; love that also leads to the sacrifice of one's life, like with Blessed Pierina Morosini and Blessed Antonia Mesina.

Young people of Catholic Action, aspire to big goals, because God gives you the strength. "More" is being young people and children who decide to love like Jesus does, to be the protagonists of our own lives, protagonists in the Church, witnesses of the faith to those who are your age. "More" is the human and Christian formation that you experience in Catholic Action, which unites spiritual life, fraternity, public witness to the faith, ecclesial communion, love for the Church, collaboration with the bishops and priests, spiritual friendship. "Growing up together" speaks of the importance of being part of a group and a community that helps you to grow, to discover your vocation and to learn true love. Thank you.

Azione Cattolica Italiana

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I may think that I'm psychologically ready for a postcarbon world and that I'm getting closer to becoming physically prepared, but would I have better luck finding work in a postcarbon economy than the one we have now?
Peter Hitchens tell us of a conversation he had with his brother regarding the influence of religion upon society: Christopher Hitchens answers his own riddle.

Can Civilization Survive Without God
NLM: Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568 - 1961: Part 10.1 - The Reform of 1960
EB: "Expect next phase of market crash and a large one for that matter…" - Interview with Nicole "Stoneleigh" Foss
Alexander Ac, Energy Bulletin

"Financial crisis is going to make resource depletion much harder to address, because we are not going to have the money to replace highly energy-dependent infrastructure. Doing so would be staggeringly expensive and would take a very long time even if we did have the money. As it is, we will be forced to conserve both money and resources by going without."

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A friend posted a link to this article at FB, and that prompted me to finish that last post -- Truth And Lies About Fats And Obesity With Gary Taubes.


Jimmy Moore informs us that Gary Taubes' new book is set to be out in December. From Monday (a while back!): ‘Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show’ Episode 401: Gary Taubes Update With Sneak Peek At His New Book.

Do we need to modify our understanding of the virtue of temperance/moderation with respect to food? Conventional wisdom says it is merely a question of intake--controlling the number of calories, without any regards to what we put in our stomachs. (Although fats, etc. are to be avoided because they lead to heart disease and so on.) It is simply a question of self-control with respect to eating -- thus the claim that many who are obese are at fault, or are morally responsible for their condition. (The amount of disdain the obese attract, especially when obesity is on the rise in Uhmerica, is apparent on various websites.) A popular recommendation for weight loss is for people to cut down on their calories, without any regard though for what sort of calories are being consumed. Many of us know how successful this solution is.

What causes obesity? Too many calories? Or too many calories of the wrong kind of food? Gary Taubes answers this last question with an affirmative in his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories. If we do overeat and take in too many calories, we will become fat. But what we eat also matters.

Are the fat and obese at fault for their physical condition? Or do the National Government and health experts responsible for misinforming the American public about good nutrition and the cause of heart disease? What if the standard American diet (SAD) ruins out body and normal appetites? Can we blame those who feel hungry because of the way their body's chemistry is out of whack because of the effect cheap and easy carbohydates have on their body? Perhaps some might be able to resist the urge to eat, but if this feeling is recurring regularly and they do not feel satiated does this begin to require "heroic" resistance?

If our appetites are excessive due to no fault of our own (because we are just blindly accepting the recommendations of the FDA and our doctors and becoming fat despite ourselves), can we said to be vicious if our appetites have been distorted (and our sense of the mean wrecked) against our will? After all, we rely on our body's signals to tell us when we need to eat and what -- as children, we learn to do this through our senses, rather than whipping a calculator out to figure out how many calories we have consumed so far during the day. Does virtue with respect to eating presuppose a normally functioning body? Can we properly judge portion size if we do not feel satiety?

What then of the so-called diseases of civilization -- or in this case, the diseases of post-industrial civilization (in which too many people are sedentary)? Some, like Weston A. Price and his followers, will argue that these are due to the adoption of certain kinds of foods. Is it the case that those who worked hard in the field or in the workshop/factory needed all those carbs? (Even if this still lead to problems which were somewhat mitigated by the exercise?) Have the diseases of civilization become more prevalent as we have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle?

Mark's Daily Apple
Raw Food SOS: Brand-Spankin’ New Study: Are Low-Carb Meat Eaters in Trouble?
Chris Masterjohn: New Study Shows that Lying About Your Hamburger Intake Prevents Disease and Death When You Eat a Low-Carb Diet High in Carbohydrates
Michael Eades: The China Study vs the China study

More from Gary Taubes:
Jimmy Moore's post embedding all of the videos of the recent Taubes lecture (I posted some of them here) : IMS Lecture With Slides And Q&A: 'Why We Get Fat' By Gary Taubes

Why We Get Fat: Adiposity 101 and the Alternative Hypothesis of Obesity

Complete Notes to Good Calories, Bad Calories (pdf)

(h/t Michelle's Lowcarb Lifestyle)

Begun on September 12.
Steve Sailer reviews The Inside Job.

Two for Election Day

Election day — Reflecting on our failures
Dave Cohen, Decline of the Empire
Let's not fool ourselves. There is a considerable challenge in making the best of a bad situation, for what is required is a serious, wide-reaching revival of American families, communities and old-fashioned Christian charity. Americans will have to take care of each other in the absence of a benevolent government.

A culture of dependence
Before civilization culture, children were dependent on their parents for a period of about ten years, during which, following the model of most wild creatures, they spent most of their waking lives learning to be independent, through play.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The peak oil debate is over
Dr. James Schlesinger, ASPO-USA

"Large conventional oil production is increasingly no longer part of the future. We must expect to get along without what has been our critical energy source in expanding the world’s economy for more than half a century. But acceptance [of the idea of peak oil] by knowledgeable people is not enough.
"Our willingness, let alone our ability, to do anything serious about the impending inability to increase oil output is still a long way off. The political order responds to what the public believes today, not to what it may come to believe tomorrow."

Dr. James Schlesinger "The Peak Oil Debate is Over" from ASPO-USA on Vimeo.

Peter Philips (1561 - 1628)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ivan Eland, Expand the Role of the Citizen-Soldier Without a Draft

Perhaps the answer to bringing the military back into line with the society it’s supposed to be defending and to expanding the ranks of citizen-soldiers (National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers can already be so labeled), while avoiding a return to the slavery of conscription, is to convert active units to reserves.

In today’s world, the U.S. military should be chasing terrorists (only after law enforcement efforts have failed or against a clear, imminent, and dangerous threat), not occupying Islamic countries and fighting insurgents, thus making the problem of blowback anti-U.S. terrorism worse. No military threat from another great power currently exists and won’t likely arise for decades (even assuming China continues to grow economically at its current unsustainable pace). Therefore, five divisions of the U.S. Army should be converted to part-time National Guard units. Of the three active and one reserve Marine divisions, two of the active units should be converted to reserve units. These five Army and two Marine divisions and other existing Army National Guard combat divisions and the other Marine Reserve division should receive increased training to be ready as a hedge against an unlikely dust-up with another great power. Mobilizing these combat units would require much more political risk for the president than just sending citizen-soldiers to support active-duty soldiers.

I don't see it happening, if the number of people affected remains small. And then there is the mentality of those who are serving -- would they complain if they were called up? There have been complaints about units serving multiple tours without sufficient rest time back in the States -- but that hasn't put a damper on the Obama administration's pursuit of the war in Afghanistan. Is it possible for the states to reclaim authority over their militias that were turned into the National Guard? I'll have to do some research on this question.

Institutions of higher ed are failing their mission

Especially Catholic colleges and universities!

Forget for the moment the greater purpose of giving students a liberal education and a stronger foundation in the Western intellectual tradition; there is the goal of developing literacy. At the Center for Literate Values, there is a collection of essays originally published in Praesidium on literacy in higher education: Ivory Rubble: Essays on the Collapse of Literacy in Higher Education (With Modest Proposals for Partial Salvage). See the essays written by Thomas Bertonneau. (h/t to a reader of The Thinking Housewife)

Some reactions to what I've read so far (which includes the essay "The Vanishing Cultivated Girl and Her Replacement" by Thomas Bertonneau):

In many elementary schools in the Silicon Valley, students in the upper grades are encouraged or required to use computers to do research, type reports. There is a naive belief that students must become familiar with using computers to write and do research. Might it not be the case that introducing computers to the young will reinforce bad habits of thinking and writing? Instead of checking on the reliability of one's sources, one is conditioned to rely even more on an electronic mediation of the real world. Many of these students cannot even write properly -- shouldn't greater emphasis be placed on their learning how to write, rather than using a gadget whose days are limited?

Even if our institutions of higher education are not responsible for the lack of literacy in freshmen (this is to be blamed on our public institutions of primary and secondary education), they (along with the National Government)  are responsible for the higher education bubble and for promoting their own well-being above that of the students. (Apparently, just last week an article was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education about  underemployment affecting those with Bachelor's and graduate degrees.)

More importantly, colleges and universities are complicit in the destruction of culture and souls. But I am thinking at the moment of their failure to morally form students. Their rhetoric about intellectual formation and moral formation is contradicted by their inaction and negligence. Administration has more interest in filling seats, gaining prestige, and keeping themselves in business than in taking care of the students, and faculty in general do very little to oppose this besides voice a complaint or two about the lack of intellectual preparation on the part of incoming freshman.

They will have much to answer for.

Regarding tattoos:
I saw more tattoo magazines in that Fayetteville B&N than I have seen anywhere else, with the exception perhaps of bookstores in SF or Berkeley.

Another collection that might be of interest: Return to Chivalry: How Contemporary Men Can Recover the Dignity of Living for a Higher Purpose by Peter T. Singleton.

Praesidium archive

Benedict XVI on St. Bridget of Sweden

Asia News:  Often it is the woman who makes marriage a domestic Church, says Pope
Illustrating the figure of Saint Bridget of Sweden, Benedict XVI emphasizes the role of women in the family and the Church. Europe must nourish its Christian roots. Appeals to the international community to "provide the necessary help and ease the pain of those who suffer" the consequences of the "devastation" in Indonesia and Benin.

Zenit: On St. Bridget of Sweden [2010-10-27]
"Together, Christian Spouses Can Follow a Path of Sanctity"

[Will the Church be more vigorous in proclaiming traditional teachings about the vocation of wives? Today we are often reminded of the weaknesses of men and the failures of husbands, but will we ever see something comparable for women and wives?]
Asian News: Pope: the one human family also includes brothers who emigrate
In his message for the next World Refugee Day, Benedict XVI highlights migration as part of a globalized society, which emphasizes the unity of mankind. The "dutiful gesture of human solidarity" in welcoming migrants. Those who emigrate must "assume the rights and duties existing in the country that receives them, contributing to the common good, not to mention the religious dimension of life."

Zenit: Pope's Message for World Migrant and Refugee Day [2010-10-26]
Theme for the Day: "One Human Family"

The road is the same, that of life, but the situations that we pass through on this route are different: many people have to face the difficult experience of migration in its various forms: internal or international, permanent or seasonal, economic or political, voluntary or forced. In various cases the departure from their Country is motivated by different forms of persecution, so that escape becomes necessary. Moreover, the phenomenon of globalization itself, characteristic of our epoch, is not only a social and economic process, but also entails "humanity itself [that] is becoming increasingly interconnected", crossing geographical and cultural boundaries. In this regard, the Church does not cease to recall that the deep sense of this epochal process and its fundamental ethical criterion are given by the unity of the human family and its development towards what is good (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 42). All, therefore, belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded.

"In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations, in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 7). This is also the perspective with which to look at the reality of migration. In fact, as the Servant of God Paul VI formerly noted, "the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations" (Encyclical Populorum progressio, 66), is a profound cause of underdevelopment and -- we may add -- has a major impact on the migration phenomenon. Human brotherhood is the, at times surprising, experience of a relationship that unites, of a profound bond with the other, different from me, based on the simple fact of being human beings. Assumed and lived responsibly, it fosters a life of communion and sharing with all and in particular with migrants; it supports the gift of self to others, for their good, for the good of all, in the local, national and world political communities.

Venerable John Paul II, on the occasion of this same Day celebrated in 2001, emphasized that "[the universal common good] includes the whole family of peoples, beyond every nationalistic egoism. The right to emigrate must be considered in this context. The Church recognizes this right in every human person, in its dual aspect of the possibility to leave one's country and the possibility to enter another country to look for better conditions of life" (Message for World Day of Migration 2001, 3; cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Mater et Magistra, 30; Paul VI, Encyclical Octogesima adveniens, 17). At the same time, States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host Country, respecting its laws and its national identity. "The challenge is to combine the welcome due to every human being, especially when in need, with a reckoning of what is necessary for both the local inhabitants and the new arrivals to live a dignified and peaceful life" (World Day of Peace 2001, 13).

In this context, the presence of the Church, as the People of God journeying through history among all the other peoples, is a source of trust and hope. Indeed the Church is "in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1); and through the action within her of the Holy Spirit, "the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one" (Idem, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 38). It is the Holy Eucharist in particular that constitutes, in the heart of the Church, an inexhaustible source of communion for the whole of humanity. It is thanks to this that the People of God includes "every nation, race, people, and tongue" (Rev 7:9), not with a sort of sacred power but with the superior service of charity. In fact the exercise of charity, especially for the poorest and weakest, is the criterion that proves the authenticity of the Eucharistic celebration (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, 28).

If human flourishing requires that one be part of a community, is entitled to join any community one wishes?

INVITATORIUM: Regem Cui Omnia Vivunt - Cristóbal de Morales (1500 - 1553)

Cristóbal de Morales Magnificat Octavi toni 128