Saturday, July 02, 2011

Mass for the Feast of St. Josemaría Escrivá

Begun on June 18.

Two Saturdays ago I woke up later than planned but I still made it in time to San Francisco for the Mass for St. Josemaría Escrivá. The parking lot at the cathedral was already full when I arrived, so I found metered parking in Japantown. (How many of those regularly attending Masses at the cathedral live close by?)

The principal celebrant was one of the auxiliary bishops of San Francisco, William Justice. (The presence of an auxiliary bishop, along with the recent appointment of an auxiliary bishop for San Jose, got me thinking about auxiliary bishops and their titular sees -- is there a better way to arrange this, without having non-existent sees as legal fictions? Metropolitans and bishops?) The homilist was the priest in charge of Opus Dei in the region. In the homily, he mentioned that Opus Dei  is celebrating 48 years of presence in San Francisco.

The liturgy: the sacred music was a mix -- some chant, some polyphony, some hymns, some modern worship music (for Communion: "Gift of Finest Wheat"!). I am guessing the readings were not taken from the generic propers for a confessor (or the equivalent in the OF). The readings:
  • Genesis 2:4b-9, 15 (relevant to the lay spirituality Opus Dei and "work")
  • Romans 8:14-17 (divine filiation)
  • Luke 5:1-11 (for St. Josemaria as a fisher of men)
The homily, like the readings, was directed toward his teachings and his personal sanctity. St. Francis de Sales was mentioned as a "precursor" in some respects. The homily rightly priority of love of God, caritas. This is not some abstract goal, as some might think from an incorrect understanding o the relationship of means to end in practical reasoning, but it is the motivator, the driver of action. But charity cannot be separated from truth, particularly moral truth, in particular moral truth regarding the economic sphere (or the political economy) and this is where things can get tricky. How do we order our actions towards the good of society and of others? Are those who pawn stolen goods in ignorance guilty of any sin? Do they need to make restitution if they find out the goods that they have exchanged were actually stolen? This is the old question of material cooperation and how responsible we are for finding out the truth about our actions? Can we assume that we are involved in something just, or are we obligated to do some investigating? (Another example: Is our system of distributing oil a just one, simply because it respects "contractual justice"? Or are there other important moral considerations that are being ignored? What if oil is not being fairly shared with poorer nations? What of us who benefit from that system? Are we free to make use of the gasoline which we buy?)

The homilist emphasized the universal call to holiness. He also  stated that we do not need to abandon place in the world, by which he meant temporal society, not the different, negative meaning of "world" which is used by St. John and St. Paul in their admonishments (~being in the world and not of it). This is somewhat of a truism, as we have not left our "place" in the natural communities into which we are born to serve God (i.e. become religious). We are to "transform it, work done with love to the best of our ability"

Do we Catholics (and not just those who are associated with Opus Dei) desire a respectable, comfortable bourgeois spirituality? I wouldn't accuse Catholics of having a gospel of wealth or prosperity like some Protestants, but are we too lukewarm despite our appearances of being pious? If what we are doing now is good enough, then how are things going to change in society or in the Church? People do what they can with respect to finding and keeping a job in order to support their families, but... how much is enough? A more radical witness to the simple life and detachment from material things might be needed. This isn't only for the sake of credibility, but more importantly, so that we better live up to the demands of charity and social justice.

Too often we fall into the trap of thinking that there is a checklist for being a good Catholic, and that all we need to do is frequent the sacraments, attend Mass regularly. There is a place for examining one's conscience but this too can become a crutch for complacency. Rule-following isn't enough; we must develop and exercise prudence. With a better understanding of the nature of our political economy, we might not be able to find guidelines that are applicable to all. But certainly we can be challenged to reconsider our comfort zone and live more wisely.

There were a lot of couples, families, and Filipinos at the Mass; not so many young or professional women.  A few. but not many. I think there were more single males, probably associated with one of the local centers. They looked like single professionals, I don't think they were all numeraries. They appeared to be nice Catholic men, even if they were not all dressed in suits. How many of them would be acceptable to American Catholic women? There was a group of female high school students sitting in front of me -- they were helping pass out programs before the Mass. I don't know what their association with Opus Dei is.

I don't doubt the parents are zealous in bringing their children. But I couldn't help but question whether they were doing enough to prepare their children for marriage. Were they doing any networking for matchmaking purposes, whether with other people in Opus Dei or at their parish? Of course these questions could be asked of most American Catholics in our parishes, who give little thought to living in community with other Catholics.

The wearing of jacket and tie was observed by the majority of the older men present at the Mass. "All I saw were sheeple." I could be wrong, maybe the men just look that way because they are assisting at Mass. But they didn't exude a strong masculine presence? But I could be a poor recognizer of an alpha aura, with my judgment being distorted by my experiences. Certainly they looked non-threatening. Some might say this is a good thing, especially during the liturgy.

Cheap energy does foster anonymous living in the United States -- the mobility that a car provides, private entertainment at home, and so on.Without cheap energy, will Opus Dei in the United States be able to continue its apostolate? What will happen to Opus Dei when the age of cheap energy is over? I suppose God knows. The situation of Opus Dei in Europe and other countries may differ, since public transportation is more readily available.

There was a small reception after the Mass; maybe a potluck would have been better? I didn't stay as there were too many people in a rather small room. I don't know if the auxiliary bishop stayed.

As I looked at the altar in the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, I pondered whether Western cathedrals weren't too big; the amount of space does convey something about God, but I am thinking specifically of the sanctuary and the altar -- whether it was too big on the one hand, and yet not significant enough. It was bare, and there weren't any markers or boundaries for the sanctuary, other than the raised platform. There was also a lot of room between the altar and the lectern on one side and the presider's chair on the other. There wasn't a clear focus, or the actions in the sanctuary were too spread apart? The cathedral is in the modernist style. I think cathedrals of older forms of Western architecture may have better sanctuaries, but there is still the problem of space. Do they really observe a proper scale for those participating in the liturgy? If there are no microphones and speakers, can someone in the back of Notre Dame or Westminster Cathedral participate in a liturgy that is more dialogic in character? What has the Eastern/Orthodox experience been like with respect to large cathedrals? Would I have had the same reaction attending the litugy in Hagia Sophia?

Critics allege that the grand scale and luxuriousness of such edifices obscures the Gospel message--the amount of time, effort, money, and material spent on the construction of such grand and immense edifices. But what is the sort of participation that should be expected from the laity during the liturgy? What was the norm for the Roman rite in the past? What is the ideal, as conceived by the proponents of the New Liturgical Movement? The Byzantine rite seems to be more dialogic in character, especially with the use of litanies, than the Roman rite. But it is not clear to me that transformation of the dialogue Mass of the EF into the OF is the right direction for reform (if the changes in the Missal can be accurately characterized as such).

I'll have to attend more liturgies in the Byzantine rite and pay better attention.


I did end up going to Kinokuniya SF since I was in the area. I was thinking of this song while driving back from SF:

Went to Armadillo Willy's Cupertino for lunch -- they've revamped the look of the restaurant, with a new look for the menu and new dishes and baskets. They've done away with the take out option for their daily specials, and sides are no longer included for the sandwiches and burgers -- about $2 or so for a side. The burger was decent, probably not much difference sin I last had it. I suppose it might still be economical to order a burger for lunch on Saturday, but I'd be better off learning how to make cole slaw, which I should try to do this week, if cabbage is on sale.

San Jose Auxiliary Bishop Ordination (includes video)

FNL as propaganda

(source of picture: Yahoo TV

And yet it is also a depiction of what's wrong with the country. It is definitely an advocate of changes in morality -- sexual freedom (teens and homosexuals) and against the small-town emphasis you have the brain drain to the big cities, as represented by Tami Taylor's decision to take a job as dean of admissions at a small private school in PA. It's not merely a job advancement, she's helping out talented kids who don't do well on standardized testing. (Another liberal article of faith.) In contrast, Coach Taylor was offered the position of head coach at a university in Florida but he turns it down, in order to take the team to the state championships and presumably to to stay with the school beyond that year. There's one more episode left, and the show writers have set up the family's exit from Dillon by having the Dillon school district eliminate one HS football program. I don't know if coach will consider fighting for his job and program in the last episode, but I already know that he decides to leave with Tami. Despite the good that he does with young males, he is the typical white male who capitulates to the enemies of the true and the good -- he doesn't act like a father with respect to his daughter, he lets the former rally girl shadow the coaching staff because she dreams of becoming a high school football coach (feminism), and instead of asserting a desire to stay and do something for the local community, he decides that he's had enough of the limelight and it is time for his wife to get some glory (more feminism). As I've written before, this goes beyond being beta; Eric Taylor exercises no true headship within his own family, and this has consequences. Apart from his relationship with the players, he surrenders to the forces that are destroying community--the epitome of the nice white guy who contributes to the decline of civilization by the abdication of leadership.

If a series is popular with "the critics," there is bound to be something wrong with it from the viewpoint of a traditional conservative.

Some news about the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer

TradiNews: Ordinations à la Fraternité Saint-Vincent-Ferrier

Their website.

2 from The Imaginative Conservative for Independence Day

Town Born! Turn Out! In New England, Independence Was a Fact Long Before the Declaration of Independence by John Willson

The Pledge of Allegiance Must Go by By Steve Klugewicz

Mr. Klugewicz offers an alternative to the Pledge of Allegiance, the "Pledge to Liberty," which states "I pledge allegiance to liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings." I find that claim exceedingly problematic, even if might be a traditional part of American political rhetoric. (Is it?)

Political liberty as self-rule is a good, one that might even be owed in justice to a community or polis, but it is nonetheless not the highest temporal good.
Do we need such pledges or oaths? In the past would citizens have made a vow to the god(s) to be good loyal citizens? That seems to be much better, though repeating it everyday may make tiresome and too much of an empty exhibition (for most people?).
Daniel McCarthy, In the Name of Liberalism:

We could plunge deep into British history from here. Instead, I’ll make two general points: first, while there is a genealogical connection between Whiggism, liberalism, and libertarianism, the bloodlines are hardly unmixed or without bastards in each generation; and second, there is a recurrent problem when a faction that professes to be the party of liberty, whether it calls itself liberal or conservative or something else, takes control of the state and then comes to be opposed by another faction that claims to speak for liberty. For a time, the new faction can assert itself to be the true Whigs or real liberals, but pretty soon the confusion that results creates a pressure for a change of names. At that point, the new anti-statists might lay claim to an old label, such as conservative, or invent a new one, such as libertarian. Famously, when Friedrich Hayek was confronted by a situation in which “liberal” had been appropriated by social democrats and “conservative” had been taken by Russell Kirk, he tried to recover the “Old Whig” persona, but that didn’t catch on.

Fundraiser for a book by William Mahrt

A collection of essays on chant - The Musical Shape of the Liturgy, William Mahrt

Lady Antebellum, "Just a Kiss"

more videos

More Benton Flippen

2nd upload

Freight and Salvage:


Friday, July 01, 2011

The CIRCE Institute: Ask Andrew: July 1st

The second question is about learning languages; the first is about the Charlotte Mason teaching model, whose description which is intriguing.

Related links:
The Well-Trained Mind
Living Books Curriculum
Karen Andreola
Penny Gardner

Plenty of discussion comparing Charlotte Mason with maria Montessori.
Arator: Republicanism and Liberty: The "Patrick Henry"/"Onslow" Debate by H. Lee Cheek, Sean Busick, and Carey Roberts (via The Imaginative Conservative)

More from Arator:
The Origins of Jeffersonian Political Economy
by John Devanny, Jr.

John Taylor of Caroline's Agrarian Republicanism
by Joseph Stromberg

Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus 2011

Celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart by Scott Richert

Icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

more icons here; Pro Ecclesia

Litany of the Sacred Heart

same audio: 1, 2

Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Devotion to the Sacred Heart

Was it Eamon Duffy who made a comment about the devotion to the Divine Mercy being rather superfluous since the devotion to the Sacred Heart already had much of the same meaning? I think he also said he didn't believe that the designation for the Universal Church of Feast of the Divine Mercy would last too long after the passing of John Paul II. As the devotion to the Sacred Heart has been around longer, I wouldn't be surprised if it is more popular with traditionalists. But would they eschew devotion to the Divine Mercy completely? (Then again, there is the question of the limit to number of devotions in one's spiritual life.)

Parts 2 and 3 of Fr. Nichols talk, "The Ordinariates, the Pope, and the Liturgy"

Aidan Nichols: The Ordinariates, the Pope, and the Liturgy (Parts II and III)

No such danger for Facebook... yet

Reuters: News Corp sells Myspace, ending six-year saga
Myspace sold for just $35 million
Myspace Sold to Specific Media for $35 Million
Huffington Post

Following musicians and so on, keeping track of concert dates could be rather time-consuming and the format of the pages wasn't as user-friendly in terms of efficiency as FB, even if MySpace was more visually appealing. MySpace definitely serves better as a vanity page than Facebook, as you can't alter the look for your profile on Facebook, though it is easier to post items.

Was the decline in revenue due a loss in popularity or the lack of advertising? I don't recall seeing any ads whenever I visited MS pages. It seems to me that FB has been more successful in marketing itself as an advertising tool, though I really doubt it's all that effective.

While I benefit from Facebook, I wouldn't mind so much if it disappeared, though I think social networking websites will be around as long as the internet remains widely available.

The new CD from the Bankesters

Buy it at their website. (FB and MS)

Christendom Restoration Society

How quaint? The website. There is a short conference next Thursday, but it's in Georgia.

Items of Interest, 1 July 2011

The cloud with no name: Meteorologists campaign to classify unique 'Asperatus' clouds seen across the world By Luke Salkeld

Another $500 knife from TAD (already out of stock?)

Energy: Making sense of peak oil and energy uncertainty (EB)
Daniel Lerch, Post Carbon Institute
(the report)

Wales: a Co-operative nation? Molly Scott Cato, Gaian Economics

The New Balance Minimus: The Best Minimalist Training Shoe on the Market

Darwin Bond-Graham, Nuclear Fiddling, While Los Alamos Burns
Carol Miller, Burning the Truth at Los Alamos: Nukes, Fire and Secrecy
Neil L. Whitehead, Divine Hunger: the Cannibal War Machine
Saul Landau, Targeting Libya, Hitting the Constitution
Franklin Lamb, Dispatch from Tripoli: Countdown to Invasion
Tom Engelhardt, Obama's Military Mantra
Linda Greene, Obama's War on Whistleblowers
Thomas H. Naylor, What are You Going to Do About the Empire?
Martha Rosenberg, Lost in Psychiatryland

Dr. Fleming on the radio again

From Mr. Scott Richert, on FB:
Thomas Fleming, editor of Chronicles and President of The Rockford Institute, will be on the Paul Youngblood Show on WNTA (1330 AM) July 1, from 3 to 5 P.M CDT. Listen live at, and call (815) 874-8255 to ask Tom a question.

Dr. Fleming notes that his presence on the show will now be a regular occurrence. (Every Friday, as long as he is in town.)
A new group blog with Alte (who is no longer maintaining her blog): Traditional Christianity.
HanCinema: Kim Hyo Jin, Han Hye-jin, Yoo Joon-sang In Style 100th special collection

Back when they were young...

Chris Thile on mandolin, Michael Cleveland on fiddle, Cody Kilby on guitar/banjo, Josh Williams.
Sleepy Man Banjo Boys (FB). From The Late Show with David Letterman:

More videos:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Benton Flippen

The Bluegrass Blog: Benton Flippen passes

Photo (source)

David Holt Interview: Benton Flippen Fiddle Style


Library of Congress Webcast: Benton Flippen and the Smokey Valley Boys
UNC TV - The Fiddle

Music Maker Relief Foundation
Death of Flippen ‘enormous loss’ to old-time music
Ken Benfield, 'The Pursuit of Happiness': How Do Communities Make Us Happy?

Another appeal to the Declaration of Independence -- seems like there a lot of people doing that these days in connection with the "happiness" fad in ecology/ethics/economics.

Smart Growth
Smart Growth America

Speakers for this year's Napa Institute, July 28-31

The list. The cost? $1,500

Uh. Yeah. Will the organizers recoup their expenses?

Mass events bug me... local training programs are slightly better, because they are local, spread out over time, and probably cheaper, even if they usually fall under the spell of credentialism. (And some local programs are just lacking in orthodoxy.)

Real American Conservatism?

Begun on February 21, at 9:41 P.M..

I didn't have time to finish writing this post for President's Day. And I did question whether it was appropriate to post a criticism of a president on the day he was being honored, even if he was a lousy president who betrayed the Constitution.

Jerry Salyer has posted some thoughts over at FPR on whether we are too provincial in our understanding of ourselves and our culture: "Is Western Civilization Un-American?". Dr. Fleming has written about the American disdain for belle-lettres in other languages.

For the moment, I wish to look at what divides true Federalists from the Nationalists who have co-opted the Constitution and made their interpretation of it the "original" one. Not surprisingly, the Nationalists exalt Lincoln -- they place him equal in importance to George Washington, for he is the "refounder" of the nation. This greatness is magnified by his tragic assassination (his "matyrdom" for the cause of the Union).

While I was in several classrooms, we read various children's books on Lincoln in preparation for President's Day. Of course, Lincoln was portrayed as a hero and savior of the union, the one who "defended" the United States. (There was some mention in a couple of the books about equality but it was rather muted.) Secular hagiography by adults for children, relying upon an ignorance of the Constitution and the horrors of war. We are not told what measures Lincoln used to keep the Union together. Even if the war were discussed, the blame for the start of the war would undoubtedly be put on the South. After all, American politicians don't maneuver so that they can provoke a war and blame the other side, do they? The complexity of the causes of the war is reduced to the single issue of slavery, and apparently a war is a justified response to an attack on Federal property (albeit a military installation, Ft. Sumter). Is this really the case under just war theory? It doesn't seem like a proportional response. It was just an excuse, and other official reasons were piled on.

Calling the Confederates rebels/traitors presupposes the Nationalist understanding, and is begging the question. A "Neoconfederate" is just an unreconstructed Southron, someone who hasn't been brainwashed re-educated by the conqueror to hate forget his own people and history? Anyone who expresses some sort of Southern partisanship or a defense of states' rights is often accused of being a racist or a disloyal traitor, and if they had family who fought for the South, their memory is spat upon.

[There is the ignorant rejoinder by Lincoln partisans citing the secession of West Virginia -- those who defend the right of secession are not being inconsistent, since that right doesn't apply to every level of political organization, but to that which is sovereign, the states. One may not agree with this, but this is how the states understood themselves.]

Some have alleged that "American culture" is Calvinist, not with respect to capitalism (the link between the two is tenuous) but with respect to civic religion. Northern Calvinism, perhaps -- whatever is the source for Yankee culture and it's "do-goodism." The snobbery of the Northeastern elites has also spread everywhere. Christians are accused of supporting forced conversion or hostile proselytization, but Nationalists (being a mixture of liberals and statists) are guilty of this, desiring homogeneity in belief  and making others conform to their beliefs through the power of the state. Nationalists and statists, both Democrats and Republicans, uphold the ideology of the proposition nation*, centered on the Declaration of Independence as the list of [liberal] natural law propositions by which everything else is judged. They take it upon themselves to claim to define what it means to be an orthodox American -- anyone who doesn't fall in line, isn't really American or patriotic, etc.

Why can they not just leave people alone? They indoctrinate for the sake of a national culture and identity -- "history is written by the conquerors," indeed. Their identity is founded upon a common history and belief system, and anything that deviates is a threat to that identity. This identity is not organic, though. This is the problem, they presume what they wish to defend, that there is a "national" identity, downplaying the fact that there are regional differences, distinct peoples with their own cultures and histories. But this is their mistake - solidarity is built upon a true community and having an identity as a people, and the United States is too large a territory for anything but a very weak form of solidarity. It may suffice during times of abundance and wealth, but it will be severely tested in long-lasting disaster. Their self-identification is what matters, not what you seek to impose on them a forced solidarity that ignores the human scale and human nature, quite frankly. (Hence the failure of the neoconservative project abroad is related to the same intellectual weakness besetting these "conservatives" at home. Dangerous utopian thinking.)

Who is a conservative? What does he seek to conserve? His people and their identity, and their place.
I would be content to have many different American political traditions, defending one instead of claiming that it is the one authentic tradition, even if it, the Southern [conservative] political tradition, is possibly the one American tradition worth keeping. (Or, more broadly, the various antifederalist traditions.) But I suspect these other conservative bloggers and pundits wouldn't leave me alone, relying upon an illusory strength in numbers and their apparent diffuse influence. [How many members of all the group blogs out there have actually met? What's to test a virtual intentional community?]

Despite what they believe about themselves, Americans in general, and the Nationalists especially, have a degraded sense of republicanism. This seems to have been lost rather early, at least in certain circles.Were the early centralizers outnumbered by true federalists at the Constitutional Convention? Certainly in the state legislatures. But they seem to have prevailed. While there is much at the root of the American founding that needs to be rectified (excessive mobility being a cultural trait that has been harmful to the stability required for communal life), I believe the Southern political tradition can be harmonized with a decent political theology, one that emphasizes subsidiarity and sustainability, and a program of relocalization. Catholics should be seeking to appropriate what is the best/true/good in a culture and if there are competing traditions demanding our submission, we who do not identify with any particular Anglo-American people must be more critical and judge between those traditions. At this point, I am not interested in trying to convert Nationalists. I would prefer that they leave me alone, but if they will not, let us see who can build better bonds with others.

*In that article, PJB probably goes too far in his claim that there is a single (Anglo-)American people.

Slate: Everything you know about the Civil War is wrong
Almost. Historian David Goldfield exposes how evangelical Protestants turned a conflict into a bloody conflagration

Meanwhile, the Nationalists are at it again: You May Be a Neo-Confederate If:
More -- Top Ten Civil War Movies For The Fourth of July and Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence

Benedict XVI update

Pope Benedict XVI (R) arrives for a private audince to the metropolitan archbishops who received their Palliums the day before on June 30, 2011 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. (Getty/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by Archbishop James Harvey, greets faithful, during a general audience for the bishops who received the pallium, in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, June 30, 2011. Forty one bishops received the pallium, a woolen shawl symbolizing their bond to the pope, during a solemn ceremony in St. Peter's basilica on June 29. (AP/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by Archbishop James Harvey, left, and his aide Rev. Georg Gaenswein, blesses faithful, during a general audience for the bishops who received the pallium, in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, June 30, 2011. Forty one bishops received the pallium, a woolen shawl symbolizing their bond to the pope, during a solemn ceremony in St. Peter's basilica on June 29. (AP/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI blesses as leads a special audience for Archbishops that got the Pallium on Wednesday, in the Paul Vi Hall at the Vatican June 30, 2011. (Reuters/Daylife)

Pope's Prayer for 60th Anniversary
"Thank You For the Grace of the Priestly Ministry"

Benedict XVI's Homily on Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
"It Is Only in the Unity Represented by Peter That We Truly Lead People to Christ"

Papal Address to Orthodox Delegation
"The Incomplete Communion That Already Unites Us Must Grow"

Papal Address to Association of Sts. Peter and Paul
"Fidelity Is needed! We Live in a Society That Has Lost This Value"

Related posts:
The ordination of Joseph Ratzinger to the priesthood

Pope Benedict XVI waves during the "Ratzinger Prize" ceremony in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican June 30, 2011. (Reuters/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI gives the "Ratzinger Prize" to an unidentified priest during a ceremony in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican June 30, 2011. (Reuters/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI gives the "Ratzinger Prize" to an unidentified priest during a ceremony in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican June 30, 2011. (Reuters/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI gives the "Ratzinger Prize" to an unidentified man during a ceremony in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican June 30, 2011. (Reuters/Daylife)

The names of the recipients can be found in the Zenit article --
Zenit: Winners of Ratzinger Prize Announced
New Honor to Promote Theological Studies
The sharing economy: A Plan B for moving America
by Randy White

Man vs. Wild - Bear & Jake Gyllenhaal Take on Iceland

Sacred Music Colloquium XXI videos

via JC

Sacred Music Colloquium XXI from Church Music Association of Amer on Vimeo.

Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, ICEL from Church Music Association of Amer on Vimeo.

CMAA channel

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Declining Sperm and The New York Times by Alice Shabecoff

Studies concluded that sperm counts fell by nearly half between 1938 and 1990. Other data tracked a worldwide decline in the ratio of male to female births since 1950. Boys have increasingly been found to suffer from a complex of genital abnormalities, from a deformity of the penis to undersize and undescended testicles, as well as rising rates of testicular cancer. Tests have shown lower sperm quality in the agricultural Midwest. Couples are experiencing more and more trouble conceiving.

Scientists have repeatedly suggested that these troubles arise from the sharp rise over the past two generations of environmental toxins that saturate our everyday lives, especially those chemicals that disrupt our hormones (generally called “endocrine disruptors”), from pesticides on our strawberries to BPA (bisphenol-A) in our baby bottles.

Items of Interest, 29 June 2011

Renouncing, reclaiming, rebuilding: The 3 steps of radical homemaking
Shannon Hayes, Yes! Magazine  
It took three 150 hp plus tractors, two backhoes and a bulldozer to finally free the rig. In the process three pull chains, each with 55,000 pound pulling capacity, snapped in one awesome surge of assembled horsepower. The country road alongside the field looked like a superhighway as the local population drove by to enjoy the show.

Brace yourselves for the next oil price shock
Dave Cohen, Decline of the empire

Karl Grossman, The Nuclear Gang Regroups
Harvey Wasserman, We've Almost Lost Nebraska
Paul Craig Roberts, A World Overwhelmed by Western Hypocrisy
Dave Lindorff, The US Military's A/C Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan Gives Me the Shivers
Henry Giroux, War Colleges

It's that time of year

for me to mull over fireworks and bbqs. Our civic holidays are rather lousy. They're barely a chance for families to make up for the lack of "quality time" together. Families may gather to be spectators, but there is very little cult, very little community. There may be some vague remembrance about "freedom," all very suitable for those purveyors of the proposition nation ideology, but it's little more than a show.

It reminds me of this piece:
Intellectual consumerism
Joanne Poyourow, Transition US 
Having the right beliefs,, emotions, and public demonstrations makes for a very shallow form of civic life.

In Cupertino, do the Indians and Chinese mix for the 4th of July?
Perez Hilton asks, in reference to 2NE1, "Why can't we have girl groups this hot in America???"

I prefer "Lonely" to their latest (the voices don't match that sort of dance song, in my opinion -- at least the intro. Maybe it's just that one member...):

What was the last popular native girl group here in the States? Pussycat Dolls? Destiny's Child? I don't think Danity Kane made it big...

Korean girl groups have been  pushing the boundaries of decency in South Korea and igniting controversy as a result, but they're not as bad as our artists(Lady Gaga being the latest example). Given the standards of Korean society, girl groups and female singers may mix sexiness in with "innocence," but for the most part they will work to preserve the innocent image because having a bad reputation can negatively impact business. In contrast, Uhmerican women don't mind details of their sex lives getting out so much -- sometimes they'll even be the ones revealing the information in an interview. (Stupid, stupid women.) In South Korea, any hint of a sex scandal is a career-killer. (See what happened to IVY -- her career has stalled and her recent attempted comeback fizzled, as far as I can tell.) Korean male fans still prefer a virginal image.

Anyway... some possible explanations for the absence of "hot girl groups" here:
(1) The record companies may think that there isn't much of a market for girl groups in the U.S. (Korean girl groups are trying to become crossover successes here, but I don't think they are making much of an impact.)
It may not be the right time, though in any mass-marketed fashion trends are cycles...

(2) Uhmerican women are such narcissistic princesses that the days of maintaining a good work ethic within a group made up of women are long gone. In South Korea, even if one member a group becomes popular, that person is still expected to keep her or his public persona relatively low-key. Some may eventually start a solo career, but any news about conflict or feuding within a group reflects poorly on them. It may still be easier for males to form a group because of the male orientation towards the group. And they all have a vested interested in keeping the group together because of the benefits their work brings. But for (Uhmerican) women, the desire to be on display and the resulting competition with other women works against group harmony. (Those men seeking seek fame and stardom may be appearance-conscious and attention whores, but I think their ego feeds less of perceived intragroup popularity among the general populace. As long as their fame brings success with individual women, that suffices?)

(Girls groups have become a joke in Japan, with the various Morning Masume projects and AKB48?)

Pope Benedict XVI poses with members of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople during a private audience on June 28, 2011 at the Vatican.(Getty/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI receives a gift from a member of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople during a private audience on June 28, 2011 at the Vatican. (Getty/Daylife)

Byzantine, Texas: Ecumenical Patriarchate's delegation arrives in Rome
Gucci Little Pitty: Gold Medal Hamsterization

Say what...

The Preferential Option for the Poor by R.R. Reno (via Patrick Deneen)

Those on the right may differ from those on the left on the applicability of subsidiarity, seeking to keep the solution local rather than growing the state. (Though there are plenty on the left who are interested in relocalization, just not many Catholic Democrats.)

Mr. Reno writes:
Want to help the poor? By all means pay your taxes and give to agencies that provide social services. By all means volunteer in a soup kitchen or help build houses for those who can’t afford them. But you can do much more for the poor by getting married and remaining faithful to your spouse. Have the courage to use old-fashioned words such as chaste and honorable. Put on a tie. Turn off the trashy reality TV shows. Sit down to dinner every night with your family. Stop using expletives as exclamation marks. Go to church or synagogue.

In this and other ways, we can help restore the constraining forms of moral and social discipline that don’t bend to fit the desires of the powerful—forms that offer the poor the best, the most effective and most lasting, way out of poverty. That’s the truest preferential option—and truest form of respect—for the poor.

Will these acts really matter if one is not living next to the poor, though? We should be committed to evangelizing and both the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy, but there's very little talk in this piece about the reform of the political economy. There are moral problems, to be sure, at every strata of society, but how many people seeking to make a simple, honest living are being prevented from doing so?

The premise of Mr. Reno's argument:
A Christian who hopes to follow the teachings of Jesus needs to reckon with a singular fact about American poverty: Its deepest and most debilitating deficits are moral, not financial; the most serious deprivations are cultural, not economic. Many people living at the bottom of American society have cell phones, flat-screen TVs, and some of the other goodies of consumer culture. But their lives are a mess.

It's too late for legislation -- what else can work, unless it's conversion or the heavy hand of law (which would do away with the American egalitarian, laissez-faire impulse). The current form of Leviathan, the bureaucratic welfare state isn't sufficient to prevent the demise of the state. More extreme measures would be required.

I can see why Professor Deneen appreciates the piece, with its emphasis on defending the civilizing influences and practices of society , but I don't think it does a good job in evaluating its proposed measures.

What was Steven Spielberg's last good movie?

The trailer for War Horse:

It's got one thing going for it -- no CGI from ILM. Looks like they are aiming at a PG rating, so no graphic, realistic portrayals of trench warfare in WW1.

In the name of the mission

One that we shouldn't have been doing in the first place... Female Special Operators Now in Combat

In a controversial move early this year, the Army created a new avenue for women to serve with front-line combat units in some of the most specialized and covert missions. The so-called "Cultural Support Teams" are attached to Special Forces and Ranger units to interface with the female population to gain vital intelligence and provide social outreach.

Gottfried on Mencken

The Irrepressible Mencken
Some new Kershaw prototypes: Brawler, Burst, & One-Ton

Monday, June 27, 2011

Green River Road

Green River Road - Trailer from Green River Road on Vimeo.

The house of MB's wife, KB, is shown in the first few seconds of the trailer.

Items of Interest, 27 June 2011

The New Thirty Years’ War: Winners and Losers in the Great Global Energy Struggle to Come by Michael T. Klare

Don Fitz, The Deep Green Meaning of Fukushima

It’s About Time — and It’s in the Right Place
By William Saunders & Robert P. George

Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education

Carol Graham, The Pursuit of Happiness: Can We Have an Economy of Well-Being?
AT NLM David Clayton has a post on some paintings by Kiko Arguello.

Some more icons?
Chapel icons depict mysteries of salvation history By Roxanne King

Some claim that he is orthodox, despite the group's liturgical practices, but is this the case?

Part of a comment by Matthew Alderman:

If a western painter is going to do something Byzantine an artist ought to look at 'our' own equivalent--Cimabue, the early Italians, etc., which are both iconic and liturgically western. (I'd also prefer they remembered Van Eyck and van der Weyden as well, of course.) The appeal of modern Byzantine iconography for many in the west is I think they assume it is 'primitive' and somehow 'better' or 'more authentic' than 'decadent' Renaissance or Medieval art. The reasoning behind this is a little insulting or patronizing to the Byzantines--Byzantine art, properly understood, is anything but crude and primitive and is the result of centuries of refinement; it has never been as static as people assume. Indeed, some of the earliest versions of it are rather more 'realistic' than its modern form. Let us appreciate Byzantine art for what it is, for the right reasons--and also not forget our own tradition, which has room for both Byzantine equivalents, and also our own more uniquely western productions.

Latin iconographers could return to the examples given by earlier Latin artists. But why can't there be some measure of enrichment from the East as well?

US soldiers from Viper Company (Bravo) 1-26 Infantry check their weapons as they head for a foot patrol at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province, east of Afghanistan on June 26, 2011. In a nationally televised address on June 22, US President Barack Obama announced a plan to withdraw 33,000 surge troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer, which his military commanders said was more 'aggressive' than they had recommended. (Getty/Daylife)

US soldiers from Viper Company (Bravo) 1-26 Infantry stand next to a blackhawk helicopter during a formation at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province, eastern Afghanistan on June 26, 2011. President Barack Obama June 23, ordered all 33,000 US surge troops home from Afghanistan by next summer, declared the beginning of the end of the war and vowed to turn to 'nation building' at home. (Getty/Daylife)

US soldiers from Viper Company 1-26 (Bravo) Infantry on a foot patrol on a mountain area as they search for cache of arms at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan on June 24, 2011. US President Barack Obama June 23, ordered all 33,000 US surge troops home from Afghanistan by next summer, declared the beginning of the end of the war and vowed to turn to 'nation building' at home.(Getty/Daylife)

US soldiers from Viper Company 1-26 (Bravo) Infantry prepare to search a house for arms and ammunitions at a village at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan on June 24, 2011. US President Barack Obama June 23, ordered all 33,000 US surge troops home from Afghanistan by next summer, declared the beginning of the end of the war and vowed to turn to 'nation building' at home. (Getty/Daylife)
Clarice and Jess from So You Think You Can Dance last week... For me, one of the more intelligible dances.

The song:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cathy Cuthbert, Food Storage Program for Paleo Dieters
Was at BOS 7 today... it was open to the public, so why not? It will probably be the last auto event for me this year.

Something to show Mr. C

We can guess what his reaction would be like...

Make Ready with Travis Haley: Adaptive Carbine

Haley Strategic Partners

An old interview with Travis Haley.