Saturday, September 30, 2006

Driving in Korea and the Near Occasion of Sin

Anger is one sin toward which I am predisposed, and driving in Korea often makes me angry. I do not mind so much the poor drivers, although they frustrate me. I understand that Korea has a relatively short history of driving, has narrow roads, and too many cars. Adding to the problem is that people learn to drive from State-mandated driving schools, not from their fathers as we do in America. And even under the best of circumstances, not everyone in the world could be expected to drive as courteously as the good folk of Upsate New York.

I do mind, however, and very much, the evil drivers, those have no qualms about using their vehicles to intimidate other drivers. When I got my Korean driver's license back in 1997, I was issued a booklet on Korean traffic laws that attribued reckless driving to the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), which it explained caused many Koreans to have no respect for the lives of others or of themselves.

To the truck driver today who was unhappy with my wife's driving at the speed limit and attempted to snuff out my family, I have the following to say. When someone you are tailgaiting and at whom you are honking your air horn signals to change lanes and let you pass, do not then try to cut that driver off from behind and then attempt to drive him or her off the road, with two young children in the car. If you do so, do not be surprised if a foreigner in the passenger seat opens his window and hurls a stream of Korean oaths at you. Next time, when you get out of your truck to confront that woman driver, before your scurry back to your cab you might find yourself being strangled by her husband with the rosary that hangs from his rear-view mirror.
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Long Live Empress Hae-Won!


대한제국 황위 이해원 옹주가 승계...`황실 부활' 선언(종합)
Royal scions crown new S. Korean monarch in unofficial ceremony
Elderly woman named SKorea's new "queen"

Have I at long last found my monarch? The fact that the ceremony had no state backing from the "Participatory Government" of Pres. Roh. Moo-hyun makes it all the more exciting. I have been unable to find out anything about that cross on the throne, but I do know that some of the royal family converted to Catholicism.
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Friday, September 29, 2006

The Sage in the News

Happy 2,557th: Birthday of Confucius commemorated on both sides of Taiwan Straits. Back in the last millenium, years before I ever thought of naming this blog, I visited Qufu, China: the Birthplace of Confucius. There, I paid my respects before his tomb.

A concise but accurate statement of Confucian thought is presented in the last paragraph of another fascinating article, Family tree of Confucius has 1.5 million members:
    Chinese scholars say Confucius' thoughts, including putting people first, cultivating fraternity, loyalty, filial piety and integrity of personality, and seeking harmony while keeping differences in thoughts and culture, are important to boosting world harmony.
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"The Proper Tools"

Mr. Rod Dreher, the Crunchy Con, takes on Emperor Bush's Orwellian euphemism for torture and asks What are we doing? What have we done? And, just in case you were wondering, This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like:
Substitute the Khmer Rouge fatigues with the uniforms of our boys─ and now girls ─over there and you get the idea of what the Senate has just legislated.

Just take your soma and repeat, "They hate us for our freedoms."
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"The Most Powerful Blow Ever Delivered Against Christian Civilization and the Moral Law"

Rev. James Martin Gillis, CSP's September 1945 editorial The Atom Bomb:
    For days and weeks after the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan, there was a landslide of comment, scientific, pseudo-scientific and fantastic, opinions, explanations, rejoicings, and even of thanksgiving to God. Somewhere in the enormous mass of matter dislodged, as it were, by the bomb, there may have been a moral judgement, apart from the Pope’s. If so, I confess I did not find it though I searched diligently. What I hoped to discover was an expression of the conviction that we the people of the United States and perhaps with us the people of Britain, have struck the most powerful blow ever delivered against Christian civilization and the moral law. I would call it a “crime” were it not that the word implies sin and sin requires consciousness of guilt. Even more deplorable than the act itself is the fact that those who prepared the bombing, those who carried it out, and the whole nation – or two nations – which welcomed the news of it, seems to have had neither doubt nor scruple about its morality. It is pathetic and tragic that people whose civilization is called Christian, presumably founded on the Gospel, had to all appearances no doubt that what was done was permissible and laudable.

    I do not delude myself that my opinion is of importance. But to relieve the pressure on my conscience, I here and now declare that the use of the atomic bomb in the circumstances, was atrocious and abominable: and that civilized people should reprobate and anathematize the horrible deed. Some time ago in this magazine (May/August 1944) we carried a discussion of the morality of indiscriminate or “saturation” bombing, the kind that is done for the primary purpose of destroying civilian morale without regard to what is known as Moderamen inculpatae tutelae. Or as expressed in two sentences: First, it is morally permissible to bomb objects of military importance, railroads, bridges, munitions dumps, factories producing instruments of war, even if in doing so, one kills innocent persons. Second, it is not morally permissible to bomb innocent people directly or purposely. Readers of that discussion may remember, without repeating the argument, I saw no distinction in favor of an atomic bomb over any other kind of bomb. Rather the contrary. The more destructive the instrument, the more grievous the crime. Nor will it do to say that the population of Hiroshima was warned by bulletins dropped by planes in advance. No honest person would say that he thinks 350,000 people can vacate a city. When the bomb destroys all life within a circumference of 200 miles or more, it would be adding insult to injury to say that the inhabitants of that city should have got out of the way.

    Here we come upon the essential evil. The American people have for some years been indoctrinated with the heresy that there is no such thing as a universal everlasting law. Professors of ethics say there is no Absolute, that is to say, no God and that if there were, we have no means of knowing His mind or even if He is a person and has a mind. That there is no such thing as natural law; that laws are temporary and arbitrary, made up, so to speak, as we go along; that the law that served our ancestors may be obsolete in our days. If that kind of ethics prevails, our Christian civilization will dissolve in gas like the bodies of the 100,000 to 300,000 victims of the first atomic bombing. No discussion of this question can neglect the argument that the atomic bombs were used to bring about a quicker surrender of Japan and thereby in the end, to save lives. The end does not justify the means. It is not permissible to do evil that good may come. If obliteration bombing is evil – and this is the question – it cannot be made good by the supposition or even the certainty that it will in the long run be more merciful that a surely legitimate way to make war.
[link via Built on a Rock]
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It's High Time for Uncle Sam to Leave Asia

"By encouraging Japan to become a normal nation with normal defense responsibilities, Washington can shed some of its outdated Asian military commitments," writes Antiwar.com's Doug Bandow in Normalizing Relations With Japan. The same can be said for the country on the other side of the Sea of Japan East Sea: "Nearly 30,000 troops are in South Korea, even though Seoul perceives little threat from the North and vastly outranks its potential antagonist in most measures of national power."
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Oedo's Church

Oedo Paradise Island, where the Mediterranean meets the Orient, is one of South Korea's more unique tourist destinations. Begin in 1969 and opened in 1995, the privately-owned is the creation of a Seoul couple who made it rich in textiles. We visited Oedo a few years ago when our daughter was still a baby, and were a bit rushed. Until reading this article, When an Island Beckons, Listen, I did not realize the island boasted a small church. Here are two pictures from Oedo Island: A Paradise on Earth


I assume it is a Protestant chapel. Were I ever to make it rich, I'd build a Catholic chapel on my property.
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Chinese Organ Trade

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A Message for the Domestic Church

"Let us evangelise the family, which is the first school for the young in which they can learn virtue," says Mgr John Choi Young-soo, in Evangelising the family, our Church’s mission, Korean bishops say.
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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Single-mindedness

If you have time, stop whatever you are doing now, and read Mr. Steven Riddle's thoughts On the Virtues of Monotasking.
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Tradition, Family, and Property

The New Beginning's Mr. T. Chan today gives us A Critique of TFP, referring to The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property. Here is the parent organization in Brazil: TFP - Tradição, Família e Propriedade. I had heard of the group before, but, not being much of a joiner, have not investigated them further. The group's handbook, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, looks to be a very valuable read.

According to Mr. Chan, TFP believs that "it is their role to restore and preserve a class of nobility here in the United States." I agree with Mr. Chan that "trying to restore the nobility outside of a natural or historical development [is] a manifestation of hubris, if one includes oneself in that class" and "that true nobility is the possession and exercise of virtue."

As noted by Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859), the fact that America never possessed a nobility has profoundly affected our character as a nation. I cannot see how nobility in its historic sense could ever possibly be established in America after four hundred years of non-existence. The best we can hope for are the democratic elites spoken of by Bernard Iddings Bell in Crowd Culture.
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Tokyo Rose, American Patriot

Tokyo Rose Dead at 90, informs John of The Inn at the End of the World, "[o]r at least the woman who was railroaded by the press and the feds." May Iva Toguri D'Aquino rest in peace.
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The Marxist-Lennonist Anthem

In I Can't Imagine a Dumber Song, Mr. Mark Shea takes on what he describes as the "Hymn to Original Sin" and "the National Anthem of the Bureaucratic World State." Here is a taste:
    You can see imbeciles swaying to this tune, eyes closed in beatific bliss, at everything from school assemblies to soccer matches to September 11 commemorations. How does it honor the dead to "Imagine there's no heaven"? How does it honor the firefighters who sacrificed their lives to mewl about "Nothing to...die for"? Indeed, it is sung by earnest churchgoers, even at Catholic Masses, who seem to perceive no particular contradiction between the liberating wonder of imagining there's no Heaven and the prayer which begins "Our Father who art in heaven." It seems to be because the words of the song are more or less treated as sonorous replacements for singing "La La" to its pleasant tune.
[link via Bethune Catholic]
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Global Warming Warning

Whom do we trust, Rush or the National Academy of Sciences: Limbaugh on global warming: "malarkey" or Earth hottest in 5,000 years, study suggests?
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Pope Slams Secularized West!

From A conservative blog for peace comes this explanation by a Baptist theologian of What the Pope really said. Any functionally literate reader of the Holy Father's address at his Meeting with the representatives of science at the University of Regensburg would agree that it was not an attack on Islam but rather a "direct attack on the cherished assumptions of the secularized West."

It is joyous indeed to see Baptists and other Protestants rallying to the Pope. Could it be, as one prominent apologist has suggested, that Pope Benedict XVI is The Anti-Luther?
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The Scourging at the Pillar

Catholic Passion-bearers Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu, and Dominggus da Silva suffered "bruises, broken bones and even a stab wound" before the faced the firing squad, according to this report: Reports of torture before execution of Indonesian Catholics.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

American Coup d'État

With last week's events in the Kingdom of Thailand, coups d'État have been on my mind. I wonder, would anyone else out there find themselves supporting an anti-Bush Putsch led by someone like Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré?
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The Consequences of Chinese Female Fœticide

Here is some disturbing news from China: Gender disparity increases: 121 males born for every 100 women. Why disturbing? Read The Geopolitics of Sexual Frustration to find out.
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Would a "Sterility Tax" Work for South Korea?

Keeping in mind that South Korea has the lowest birthrate in the world, from Holy Mother Russia comes an idea that just might work here: Russia Considers Sterility Tax to Encourage Births.

Actually, the idea comes form the Soviet Union─ even Godless Commies occasionally stumbled across a good idea ─and its reintroduction has been proposed by the Duma. Here is how it would work:
    The Duma intends the tax either to encourage Russians to have more children, or make childless Russians help absorb the costs of the government’s maternal capital program, which gives 250,000 rubles (9,200USD) to mothers for the birth of another child.
As long as the "Participatory Government" of Pres. Roh Moo-hyun is able to think of only the economic, not cultural, dimensions of this problem, offering insultingly miniscule tax breaks, social security benefits, and subsidies for childcare, I see no reason why a sterility tax should not be imposed. The libertarian in me cringes at such a suggestion─ while the authoritarian in me exults ─ but Korea, my adopted home, is facing nothing short of race suicide and drastic measures are called for.

Ideally, I'd like to see approaches more in keeping with The Principle of Subsidiarity, which "holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization." That "smaller and simpler organization" is in this case is the family, the basic unit of any society. The elderly will be cared for by their own children. Couples that refuse to be fruitful and multiply or adopt the unwanted children of others should expect nothing, nada, in return from the State when they reach old age. The Church, of course, will be there to provide charity as she has always done; preference, however, should be given to widows and orphans and those unmarried who have devoted their lives to the Church, religious or not.
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What's Wrong With This Picture?

Pun intended. In Her Majesty's Dominion of Canada, performing an abortion is perfectly legal, while displaying a picture of an aborted baby is a violation of s.163 of the Criminal Code: Mother of Seven Arrested Without Warning for Showing Abortion Image.
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The Official Likeness of Confucius™

"A standard portrait is needed so that different countries can have the same image of him," said Zhang Shuhua of the government-backed China Confucius Foundation, quoted in China faces up to confusion over Confucius. Here is the copyrighted official likeness of the Sage:


I don't like it one bit. I can't help but think of the pathetic Jesus reconstructed image that was put forth a few years ago. I much prefer images like this one taken from Les Entretiens de Confucius, which reminds me of a holy card:

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Mourning the Victims of Mr. Bush's War

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Idomeneo

Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, as we all know, was as rabid an Islamophobe as the current Roman Pontiff: Berlin Opera Pulled Over Muhammad Scene.

UPDATE: It was correct to pull the opera, and its director should be burned at the stake. Read the comments to find out why.
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Another Functionally Illiterate Commentator

    Between the present Pope, Benedict XVI, and the present Emperor, George Bush II, there exists a wonderful harmony.
Add CounterPunch's Uri Avnery, a Jewish Atheist, author of the above, to the list of writers who cannot understand an academic citation. Here is some suggested reading: Cardinal Ratzinger says unilateral attack on Iraq not justified, Bush vs. Benedict, and Pope Benedict and the Meaning of Words.
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My Kind of Neocons

South Korea's "New Right Union" has been formed: 'New Right' jumps into fray. The coalition, led by one Rev. Kim Jin-hong, hopes to win the country back after five years of Jacobinical rule by the "Participatory Government" of Pres. Roh Moo-hyun, a self-educated lawyer who compares himself to The American Lenin.
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Coreans of Olde


Clockwise from left: The grandson of Emperor Gojong, Yi Woo, in a wedding picture from the 1930s, a wedding in the early 20th century, and a gisaeng in the early 20th Century.

─ from Flurry of Major Photography Exhibitions to Open
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La República Bolivariana y la Iglesia

Here is a cautiously optimistic report from the land of Hugo "Bush is the Devil" Chávez: Venezuelan church-state relations improving, says archbishop. Concerns remain over "the growing militarization of society and efforts to curtail religious education in public schools," notes the archbishop. Venezuela appears to be more like the U.S. than I had imagined.
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Stay Out of Darfur!

"There is no civil war so bad that it cannot be made worse by the intervention of Western liberals," writes Mr. Brendan O’Neill in Darfur: damned by pity.

[link via verbum ipsum and A conservative blog for peace]
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The Married Moonie Archbishop from Zambia

He has received the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict: Excommunication ‘latæ sententiæ’ for Mgr Milingo. The charity of Sancta Mater Ecclesia is evidenced by the lateness of this sad but necessary decision.
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Olivia Hussey

Congratulations to my favorite actress: Actress Olivia Hussey awarded Mother Teresa Prize. Most famous as the excruciatingly beautiful star of Romeo and Juliet (1968/I), she also played the Blessed Virgin Mary in "Jesus of Nazareth" (1977) and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Madre Teresa (2003) (TV).

From a Russian-language page, Оливия Хасси, comes this image of the Anglo-Argentine actress's role as Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos:

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More Media-fueled Violence

Reaction to the BBC and The NY Times misrepresentation of the Pope's Regensburg Address: More Catholic church attacks across Asia. Not to take the blame away from the perpetrators of these attacks, but the media knew they were shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.
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So-called Persistent So-called Vegetative So-called States

The most sinister effect of Scientism, the "ideology which holds that science has primacy over other interpretations of life," is that it stops people from thinking. Give something a scientific-sounding name and its immutably defined for the herd. Sucking the brains out of a baby's head would have been called "infanticide" in saner times, but if we call it Intrauterine cranial decompression, it becomes morally neutral. Describe someone as being in a Persistent vegetative state and you have created a non-person, a Lebensunwertes Leben (Life unworthy of life), who can be denied food and even water.

Providentially, it is often Science itself ─ and often quite by accident ─that triumphs over Scientism, an example of which is described in an article intitled Reborn:
    For three years, Riaan Bolton has lain motionless, his eyes open but unseeing. After a devastating car crash doctors said he would never again see or speak or hear. Now his mother, Johanna, dissolves a pill in a little water on a teaspoon and forces it gently into his mouth. Within half an hour, as if a switch has been flicked in his brain, Riaan looks around his home in the South African town of Kimberley and says, "Hello." Shortly after his accident, Johanna had turned down the option of letting him die.

    Three hundred miles away, Louis Viljoen, a young man who had once been cruelly described by a doctor as "a cabbage", greets me with a mischievous smile and a streetwise four-move handshake. Until he took the pill, he too was supposed to be in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state.

    Across the Atlantic in the United States, George Melendez, who is also brain-damaged, has lain twitching and moaning as if in agony for years, causing his parents unbearable grief. He, too, is given this little tablet and again, it's as if a light comes on. His father asks him if he is, indeed, in pain. "No," George smiles, and his family burst into tears.
[Click on the link to learn just what this "miracle pill" is.]
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Young Fogey on the Regensburg Address

    And the anti-intellectualism the Pope is criticising as part of his praise of the university is really against this Christianised Roman culture. Reject it — really the same as rejecting the Catholica — and you end up with both Bob Jones and Jack Spong.
—from On ‘Islam is a violent faith’
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Outpost of Transhumanism

Half a millenium later and on a peninsula half a world away, Juan Ponce de León's futile quest for the Fons Juventutis continues: South Korea struggles to discover secrets of eternal youth.

Pres. Bush famously, and correctly, labeled North Korea as an "Outpost of Tyranny." Around the time when transsexual singer Harisu made his/her/its debut, The Marmot's Hole labeled South Korea an "Outpost of Tranny." Pres. Roh Moo-hyun's "Participatory Government" seems hell-bent on positioning the country as the Outpost of Transhumanism.
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Mel's Movie

Mr. Daniel Larison of Eunomia has two posts on the above. One asks, Is Apocalypto Gibson’s Agrarian Manifesto? The other, Destroying Ourselves The Mayan Way, links to an article, Mel campaigns for new movie, against war in Iraq, from which this bit is excerpted:
    In describing its portrait of a civilization in decline, Gibson said, "The precursors to a civilization that's going under are the same, time and time again," drawing parallels between the Mayan civilization on the brink of collapse and America's present situation. "What's human sacrifice," he asked, "if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?"
Asks Mr. Larison, "[D]o you suppose the Mayas thought that their sacrifices would ward off the Toltecofascists?"

Mr. T. Chan of The New Beginning also offers his thoughts and several links with this post: Henry Knowles on Apocalypto.
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Small is Beautiful

South Korea's main Leftist newspaper offers this article about the resistance against large discount stores: Traditional markets keep community spirit alive. The article gives this tip of the hat to some fellow Americans:
    In the United States, there is also a growing sense that discount stores are destroying the personality of neighborhoods. A movement against Walmart in the U.S. has been waged for the past 14 years, with about 300 towns banning Walmart from opening stores in their vicinity. The movement’s leader, Al Norman, accuses Walmart of destroying the unique features of a town, hurting the local economy, and preventing labor from unionizing. While a similar movement is taking shape in South Korea, such as the "Anti-E-Mart Movement," it is still nacent and no visible results have been accomplished thus far.
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Laissez-Faire Eugenics

An infanticide-advocate, not surprisingly, supports the above, from [Peter Singer]Mixed blessing of genetic choice:
    In liberal, market driven societies, however, eugenics will not be coercively imposed by the state for the collective good. Instead, it will be the outcome of parental choice and the workings of the free market. If it leads to healthier, smarter people with better problem-solving abilities, that will be a good thing.
His main reservation "is that only the rich will be able to afford it."
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Culture and Agriculture and War

"What do you do with all the farmers?" asks the Asia Times Online's Spengler, noting that "[i]n every era, economic and industrial upheaval has resulted in mass redundancies and human displacement, creating hardship and, more often than not, war." Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky described the dire cultural ramifications of the industrialization of agriculture in The Unsettling of America -- Culture & Agriculture; it seems there are and will be dire geopolitical ramifications as well.
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Monday, September 25, 2006

Traditional Korean Coiffure

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Territorial Democracy

In reaction to the unseemly resurgence of Nativism in some Paleoconservative circles, my thoughts have returned to the thought of Orestes Brownson (1803–1876). This from Territorial Democracy and the Metropolitan Frontier:
    The phrase "territorial democracy" was coined by the American journalist and political analyst Orestes Brownson in the 1850s. He wrote that "the United States of America form a republic in which territorial democracy prevails...." Brownson contrasted territorial with "Jacobin democracy," the infatuation with an abstract, infallible People, and the concentration of "popular" power in an absolute, centralized government. In contrasting territorial with Jacobin democracy, Brownson used the terms almost as a synonym for federalism. In theory, the two are not quite the same but in the American system, where federal democracy is expressed in the main through territorial divisions, they come very close to coinciding.
Here is what Brownson himself had to say on page 132 of The American Republic:
    There is no civilized nation now existing that developed from a common ancestor this side of Adam, and the most mixed are the most civilized. The nearer a nation approaches to a primitive people of pure unmixed blood, the farther removed it is from civilization. All civilizations are political nations, and are founded in the fact, not on rights antecedent to the fact.
I fail to understand how Nationalism, with its origins somewhere between The French Revolution and Romanticism, is so easily reconciled by some with Paleoconservatism. Here is but one description of the origin of Nationalism:
    It emerged from two main sources: the Romantic exaltation of "feeling" and "identity" ... and the Liberal requirement that a legitimate state be based on a "people" rather than, for example, a dynasty, God, or imperial domination.
Brownson, it seems, saw his legitimate state, the American Republic, as being based on the land itself, not on blood or some abstract ideal.

Here are two more articles of interest: Orestes Brownson and the Truth About America and Russell Kirk and territorial democracy.
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Mr. Michael Sata vs. the Middle Kingdom

Here is a fascinating WaPo* article on the rise of not so much Anti-Sinoism but Anti-Globalism in one African nation: Zambian Hopeful Takes a Swing at China. Our hero is concerned about the post-American hegemon's dominance of the local economy and its violation of local safety standards. Here is a banner-link to the party he leads:


*Use BugMeNot.com to bypass registration.
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Gracias, Señor Chávez

Based on your recommendation, I have added Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance to my wish list: Chomsky book still tops sales after plug by Chavez at UN.

Apart from the MIT professor's work on Universal grammar, which I read in graduate school, I have not read any of his work since an undergraduate poltical science professor assigned Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. I still find the ideas from that class very useful in analyzing how the media manipulates stories like the Regensburg Address.
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The Smart Card ─ A Dumb Idea

The South Korean Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has a plan: New gov't ID cards to store data electronically. This article, largely in favor of the scheme, is from the country's main Leftist media outlet, The Hankyoreh, obviously not the type of Luddite Leftists I like.

The university for which I work issued smart cards last year. They act as keys, credit cards, and ATM cards, and have a number of other functions I have never bothered to learn about. I used mine only as a key, until it stopped functioning three weeks ago for no apparent reason, sending me on a Kafkaesque quest to get my key replaced. As of today, I have no smart card and still find myself waiting at doors for a student to enter first.

In a year-old post entitled South Korea's Brave New City, I quoted the following from an article on New Songdo City:
    In the West, ubiquitous computing is a controversial idea that raises privacy concerns and the specter of a surveillance society... But in Asia the concept is viewed as an opportunity to show off technological prowess and attract foreign investment....

    "Much of this technology was developed in U.S. research labs, but there are fewer social and regulatory obstacles to implementing them in Korea," said Mr. Townsend, who consulted on Seoul's own U-city plan, known as Digital Media City. "There is an historical expectation of less privacy. Korea is willing to put off the hard questions to take the early lead and set standards."
There is some resistance to such ideas, however. A few semesters back, students in one of my classes chose the smart card as their debate topic. A member of the opposition team suggested that if Hitler came back, the first thing he would do would be to institute a smart card system. That use of the Argumentum ad Hitlerum remains one of my fondest teaching memories.
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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis

September is the month of martyrs here in Korea:


Saint Andrew Kim Taegon
Korean nobility; his parents were converts, his father a martyr. Andrew was baptized at age 15, then travelled 1,300 miles to the nearest seminary in Macao. He became Korea's first native priest, and the first priest to die for the faith in Korea. Leader of the Martyrs of Korea.


Saint Paul Chong Hasang
Son of Yak Jong Church who was martyred in 1801 in the persecution of Shin-Yu, an attack on the faith that killed all the clergy in the country. Son of Saint Yu Cecilia; brother of Saint Jung Hye. Paul, though a layman, reunited the scattered Christians, and encouraged them to keep their faith and live their faith. Wrote the Sang-Je-Sang-Su which explained to the Korean government why the Church was no threat to them. He crossed into China nine times, working as a servant to the Korean diplomatic corps. Once he was there, he worked to get the bishop of Beijing to send more priests to Korea. He pleaded directly to Rome for help, and on 9 September 1831, Pope Gregory X proclaimed the validity of the Korean Catholic diocese. When the clergy began to return, Paul entered the seminary. However, he died in the Gi Hye persecution of 1839 before he could be ordained. One of the great founders of the Catholic Church in Korea.


Martyrs of Korea
There are 103 martyrs in this group, priests, missionaries and lay people who died in the early days of the Church in Korea. Most were murdered during waves of persecutions in 1839, 1846 and 1867.

Korea's new Prince of the Church, the Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, reminds us that the persecutions have not ended: Card. Cheong: “Pray that Eucharist may return to North Korea”.
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"America's Collapse"

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Contradictions of Capitalism

The Rich Get Richer is another excellent article from The American Conservative that explores an issue that neither of the two options given by the American political landscape seen capable of addressing. In his article, Prof. James Kurth argues that a much-needed labor movement will not develop because of three shifts: "from an industrial economy to an information one, from a producer society to a consumer one, and from a participatory culture to a spectator one." Here is part of what he has to say about the second of the three:
    It is obviously much more difficult to politically organize masses of people if they all think of themselves as individual consumers or as expressive individualists, each freely choosing his own unique (even if vapid and banal) lifestyle, than to organize masses of people who think of themselves as members of working classes or local communities, who share in common most of the important conditions of their lives.
Prof. Kurth goes on to address Neoliberalism─ "Anyone who claims that globalization is a conservative process is either a liar or a fool" ─and suggests that Islamism is the"most serious resistance movement" it has spawned.

Prof. Kurth offers no solutions, but his article cries for Distributivism, which can never be imposed from above but rather must rise from people's insistence on becoming producers rather than consumers.
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Exporting Room Salons

It used to be said that when East Asians emigrate to a new place, Chinese first establish a restaurant, Japanese first establish a business, and Koreans first establish a church. Let us pray that the day will not come when Koreans are known more for their "room salons" (brothels): Uzbek sex clubs: dark side of 'Korean wave'.
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On Kinky Friedman, Hugo Chávez, Americans, and "Ragheads"

Noting that "Americans long ago lost their sense of humor," Dr. Thomas Fleming comes to the defense of two unpopular figures in God Bless Hugo and the Texas Jewboy. Here's a taste:
    We are nation of unreflective gluttons and buyers, eating our way into an early grave, but to combine such swinish hedonism with a pharisaic self-righteousness makes us doubly disgusting. We’re hardly better than the violence-crazed Muslims who are killing Christians because the Pope made an historical illusion their mullahs are too stupid to comprehend. Don’t laugh at the "ragheads" my friends. Our own people are no better, only more cowardly.
It takes a Paleoconservative to see us as we are.
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Return from Uljin County

We have safely returned from our one-night trip to perhaps my favorite part of the Korean peninsula. For the reasons why I love it so, see these posts from my previous blog: Back from the Hills and Something About Uljin.
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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mini-Vacation

We're heading for the hills of Uljin, one of our favorite places in Korea. We'll be back tomorrow.
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Friday, September 22, 2006

Can Koreans Do Polyphony?

Indeed, they can! At a charity bazaar at Pohang St. Mary's Hospital (포항성모병원) today, for a buck I picked up a stunning CD by the rather unoriginally named Polyphony Ensemble, pictured below:


Their repertoire includes works by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Jacobus Gallus, and even Domenico Bartolucci*. For the same price, I found a CD by the Escolania de Montserrat and one with songs from the Hawaii Calls® Radio Show, from a time when Americans had finer taste in music.

*Don't miss this rolicking interview with the nonagenarian former director of the papal choir of the Sistine Chapel who was ousted by the curia of the previous pontificate: I Had a Dream: The Music of Palestrina and Gregory the Great Had Come Back.
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Korea's Brokeback

It's a shameful day for The Seventh Art in Korea and for the once-Confucian nation: S. Korea picks gay film for Oscar contention.
    "King and the Clown," a tale by director Lee Jun-ik about a male clown caught between the affections of a despotic king and the love of a fellow performer, is the No. 2 film in all-time ticket sales in South Korea. It only lost the top spot this month to "The Host," a thriller about a family's fight against a mutant monster.

    The Korean Film Council said it reviewed the two films and another, "Time," by internationally renowned director Kim Ki-duk, and decided to pick "King and the Clown" because it was believed to have a better chance of winning an Oscar nomination.
Sadly, the Korean Film Council is probably right; I cannot see the Academy grasping Kim, Ki-duk.
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Wagging the Dog

More on a theme that has appeared on this blog a few times, from BBC, NY Times and Guardian Appear to Have Stage-Managed Muslim Anti-Pope Hatred:
    The day after the speech, Wednesday the 13th, the Pope’s lecture elicited little response from apparently bored secular journalists who had little interest in what was considered his “obscure” and “academic” points on the relationship between religious belief and the secular world.

    [....]

    On Thursday the 14th, however, under the headline “Pope's speech stirs Muslim anger,” the BBC began with a report that police in Kashmir had seized newspapers carrying coverage of the pope’s speech in order “to prevent tension.” The BBC’s coverage did not include any quote from the Indian-administered Kashmiri police force.

    The BBC’s September 14th report was transmitted around the world in Arabic, Turkish, Farsi (the language of Iran), Urdu, the official language of Pakistan; and Malay. The next day, the anticipated furor had became a reality.
Qui bono?
    Benedict’s unpopularity with the secularist mainstream media is legendary. Since before his election as Pope, Joseph Ratzinger had been for years the secularist and leftist media’s favorite Catholic target. Led by the BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times, media editorials had long since dubbed him “The Rottweiler” and the “Panzer Cardinal,” for his defences of Catholic doctrine, particularly on abortion and contraception.
One can be reasonably sure the mischief-makers are reacting with glee to stories like this: Pakistanis protest, cleric says Pope should be crucified.

Nota bene: The title of this post is in no way meant to offend Muslims, who, I understand, view Man's best friend (and Korea's best meal) as being Haraam (حرام).
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A Threat to the United States Constitution

This blogger stands opposed to this Jacobinical scheme from California: Innovator Devises Way Around Electoral College*. Less, not more, democracy is what is needed. A good place to start would be to Repeal the 17th Amendment.

*Use BugMeNot.com to bypass registration..
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Pres. Bush's Foreign Policy Acheivement

He is finally proving himself to be the "uniter, not a divider" he promised to be back in 1999: Anti-Americanism Is Providing a Glue: The rhetoric from the leaders of Iran, Sudan and Venezuela at the U.N. shared a theme of outrage at the U.S., despite their differences.

[Use BugMeNot.com to bypass registration..]
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The King and Daniel Larison

Eunomia's prolific blogger shares his thoughts on Good King Bhumibol:
    It is also worth recalling that it was King Bhumibol who made it possible for a peaceful transition back to democracy after the last coup in 1992, and who seems to be the only person capable, as Franz-Josef II once said about his own role in the Habsburg Empire, of protecting his people from its government.  When monarchists tell you that monarchy is generally more just and well-ordered a type of regime than others, it is this sort of monarch that they have in mind.  Monarchy is not suited to all places and all peoples, just as democracy is not, but King Bhumibol gives us a glimpse of what a good monarchy might look like.
Having visited His Majesty's Kingdom twice, I couldn't agree more. Witnessing the Thai people's devotion to their king was moving, long before I came to understand Monarchism to be the highest form of government.
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Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu, and Dominggus da Silva

It is finished: Requiescant in pace.

May God's mercy be upon those in the Palu Prosecutor's Office who made the appalling decision to deny the condemned men their Sacraments.
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Clueless Reaction to the Regensburg Address

I am not referring to the reaction seen on the Arab Street, which itself has been over-reported and misrepresented. [See M.Z. Forrest's excellent remarks on The Pope and Islam.] It must be remembered that the small crowds of protesters─ the size of a demonstration can be judged by whether or not faces are visible in news photos ─had not read the lecture but had instead reacted to inflammatory Western reports. [See post below.]

I am referring to the reaction of some educated Westerners, like the Guradian Unlimited's Jonathan Freedland, who wrote this op-ed piece: The Pope should know better than to endorse the idea of a war of faiths. Was Mr. Freedland unable to comprehend that the pope's speech was a rejection of the idea of a war of faiths?

And then there is this ridiculous piece of writing from OpEdNews.Com's Rob Kall: Pope Provoked Muslim Rage To Help Bush and Republicans*. Does Mr. Kall think that the US is that important or does he not remember then-Cardinal Ratzinger's opposition to Mr. Bush's War or Pope Benedict's opposition to Mr. Olmert's War?

*[link via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor]
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The Beeb and Beelzebub

In Apologize for what?, Mr. David Warren blames irresponsible and inaccurate reporting from the BBC for stoking the flames of Muslim fury over the Regensburg Address:
    The BBC appears to have been quickest off the mark, to send around the world in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and Malay, word that the Pope had insulted the Prophet of Islam, during an address in Bavaria.

    [....]

    This was not a crude anti-Islamic polemic; nor was it so at the end of the 14th century. It was a quest for peace and amity, then as now.

    By turning the story back-to-front, so that what's promised in the lead -- a crude attack on Islam -- is quietly withdrawn much later in the text, the BBC journalists were having a little mischief. The kind of mischief that is likely to end with Catholic priests and faithful butchered around the Muslim world. Either the writers were so jaw-droppingly ignorant, they did not realize this is what they were abetting (always a possibility with the postmodern journalist), or the malice was intended. There is no third possibility.

    From the start, the BBC's reports said the Pope would "face criticism from Muslim leaders" -- in the present tense. This is a form of dishonesty that has become common in journalism today. The flagrantly biased reporter, feigning objectivity, spices his story by just guessing what a man's enemies will say, even before they have spoken.
[link via JIMMY AKIN.ORG]
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A Royal Coup

"His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has, through his army proxies, taken absolute control of the kingdom," according to Mr. Shawn W Crispin in Thailand: All the king's men. Much of the condemnation of the coup that I have read implies that "participatory democracy" is the only way to effect a change government. Yet, the coup was said to have been carried out in defense of the constitution and king, two things that should be revered, whereas democracy is something that should be viewed with utmost suspicion, as history teaches us. The thinking of kings, after all, extends several generations while that of prime ministers and presidents extends only to the next election.
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Tibo and Companions

As an update to the post below this one, the executions are scheduled for shortly after midnight tonight: Only a miracle can save three Indonesians from the firing squad.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Prepared to Die as Men

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marinus Riwa: "Shoot us in public" last wish of three death row Catholics. The executions are scheduled to occur just after Midnight in Jakarta (2:00 AM Seoul, 1:00 PM New York, 7:00 PM Rome). This page contains the legal documents pertaining to the case of the Indonesian Catholics: The Facts & Truth of the Poso Conflict.
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Papal Infallibility 101

"How infallible is the Pope?" asks the Beeb, employing the somewhat leading question as a headline. The article notes:
    Commentators have described Pope Benedict's recent expressions of regret as close to a rare papal apology. But how, they ask, can a man believed by Catholics to be "infallible" make a mistake?
Several paragraphs into the article, the question is answered:
    It wasn't until the 19th Century that moves were made for a formal acknowledgement that the Pope was faultless. In 1870, the First Vatican Council proclaimed that the Pope was infallible - but certain conditions were attached.

    The agreement reached by the Council stated that a Pope "when he speaks ex cathedra" - that is, as head of the Church - is "possessed of infallibility" when "he defines.... a doctrine concerning faith and morals to be held by the whole Church".

    Once the Pope has spoken, the First Vatican Council agreed, his definitions "are irreformable of themselves".

    Routine papal teaching, however, is not considered infallible.
Quoting a mediæval Byzantine emperor in a lecture from a university podium hardly qualifies as ex cathedra petri. For more detail, see Papal Infallibility.
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Thai Coup d'Etat

"Military Coup in Thailand, Could Korea Be Next?" asks GI Korea. "Could the US be next?" asks the Western Confucian. I could find reasons to support a coup in either country.

Commander-in-Chief Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, the leader of Thailand's nineteenth military coup since 1932, is a Muslim and is close to the king of the Buddhist country. I wonder what effect, if any, this will have in the country's troubled south, one of "Islam's bloody borders" about which Prof. Samuel Huntington wrote.

Whatever the case, the Thai people have their leader. Long Live His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand!
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Mohammed Gaddafi Responds to the Regensburg Address

The elder son of Libya's Col. Muammar Gaddafi had this to say in response to the pope's lecture on faith and reason, quoted in Pope asked to convert to Islam:
    If this person were really someone reasonable, he would not agree to remain at his post one minute, but would convert to Islam immediately," Mohammed Gaddafi told an awards ceremony on Monday evening for an international competition to memorise the Qur'an.

    "We say to the pope - whether you apologise or not is irrelevant, as apologies make no difference to us."
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Dr. Frankenhwang's Trial

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jürgen Habermas on Christianity

    Christianity, and nothing else is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [to Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.
─ quoted in Germans reconsider religion, via Catholic and Enjoying It!
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An Anti-Nazi Aristocrat on Nationalism

From the "Former Independent Country of Newfoundland, Canada" comes Mr. Spog of Spogbolt, one of the more fascinating blogs I've come across in some time. The subject of this post seems to be of concern to Mr. Spog, as evidenced by these recent posts: Two nationalisms, Notes on Notes on Nationalism, More on Orwell and nationalism, Simone Weil and nationalism (1), and Simone Weil and nationalism (2).

I found particularly interesting this post: Reck-Malleczewen on nationalism. Friedrich Percyval Reck-Malleczewen, the martyred conservative aristocratic German anti-Nazi who brings to mind Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, defines nationalism as "a state of mind in which you do not love your own country as much as you hate somebody else's" and had this to say on the topic:
    . . . I cannot overlook the fact that a European psychosis is nearing its end [1940] in the dance of death that is going on in Germany, the psychosis of nationalism, and that Europe must now decide either to destroy it, or be itself destroyed.

    Why must I honor as a force, foreseen at the time of the creation of the world, an idea—nationalism—which the builders of the cathedrals in Germany's greatest period had never heard of, which, indeed, never existed before 1789 and which the Nazis, who otherwise pose as the great liquidators of the French Revolution, have "re-created" out of dusty old scrolls?

    Why must I equate with basic human feelings like love and hate a philosophy which put an aura of heroism around mercantilism and the bourgeois drive for power, and which is today as rancid and flat as the whole of Rousseau. Nationalism is as tattered and dust-covered as the banner of Girondism itself, which great Carlyle called the worst of all time. It was possible only at a time of generalized atheism, and purposelessness, and brute force. Of course, I.G. Farben welcomed Hitler—he provided their poison factory with the aura of a philosophy!

    [....]

    But we must be completely clear: Why, if nationalism really is one of the basic impelling forces of mankind, as its apologists contend, was it discovered in such comparatively recent times as the French Revolution? How is it that this "basic force" did not exist in the days of the Song of the Niebelungs? And how does one explain the fact that in 1400 there was a German nation, but no nationalism—while today, when nationalism is in full bloom, even Goebbels gags a little at the statement that this conglomeration of wage earners, sergeants-gone-berserk, and virgin-typists is a nation? If nationalism is truly the hallmark of a people in the prime of its youth and energies, how does it happen that under its aegis morality decays, ancient customs die out—that men are uprooted, the steadfast derided, the thoughtful branded, the rivers poisoned, and the forests destroyed?
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Smart Koreans

With an estimated average IQ of 106, South Korea is second only to tiny Hong Kong in this list of the Average IQ in US and 80 other nations, taken from IQ and the Wealth of Nations, beating the US and Canada at 98 and 97 respectively.

The reason for high Asian IQs─ Hong Kong, 107; Japan, 105; Taiwan 104; Singapore, 104; China, 100 ─is suggested in these Findings on benefits of learning Asian Characters. If the thesis is correct, and I see no reason why it should not be, then I expect a dip in South Korea's IQ in the near future, as for more than a decade Korea's own Levellers have been promoting a disuse of Sino-Korean characters in favor of relying solely on the native phonetic script, Hangul*. This trend, thankfully, is reversing, as parents are naturally smarter than educational experts.

As an aside, there may be more than a correlational relationship between the findings of these two articles: S. Korea has top suicide rate among OECD countries: report and National intelligence and suicide rate: an ecological study of 85 countries. This also suggests that intelligence and virtue are not necessarily correlated.

I see intelligence as analogous to physical fitness. Barring disease, disability, or disfigurement, we all have the potential to be relatively physically fit, and many of us to play sports reasonably well. [I cannot count myself among this latter group.] However, it is as rare to have the God-given talent to become an Edson Arantes do Nascimento as it is to become an Athanasius Kircher, S.J.

*"...in 2002 the name was changed to "yeon ju hwang," meaning "light orange," but that was called a form of discrimination and civil rights abuse towards children for being a difficult word based on Chinese characters that was is hard for them to understand" ─ from Six Children Found a New Korean Term.
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The Holy Death of Sister Leonella Sgorbati

After being shot seven times, "I forgive, I forgive" were the last words of the Italian nun in Somalia. Here's the story: Religious in Somalia Died Forgiving Her Killers.

Requiem æternam dona ei; Domine: et lux perpetua luceat ei.
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Some Korean Customs

When it comes to Confucianism, Koreans are more Catholic than the Pope; i.e., they maintain many traditions that have disappeared from China. I once met a Chinese graduate student here in Korea who said that to understand traditional China, he needed to come to Korea.

Here are some customs, some of them Confucian in origin, from an article entitled China Draws up Drama-Based ‘Weird Korean Customs’ List:
    1. When Koreans lift their glass to drink any alcoholic beverage with someone senior, they always turn to one side.

    2. If a Korean’s glass is empty they pass the bottle to the person sitting with them. (In Korean culture it is frowned upon to pour yourself a glass; the proper etiquette is pouring for each other.)

    3. Koreans are already putting the next bite of food in their mouths before they finished chewing the last bit.

    4. Koreans use chopsticks for the side dishes but spoons for rice and soup.

    5. If a Koreans suffer indigestion after meals, they treat it by pricking their fingers with needles. (This is an old folk remedy.)

    6. Elderly Koreans often say, “Now that I’ve reached old age, I see every eyesore.” (read: “My goodness, times have changed,” “Where’s the world heading?” etc.)

    7. Korean women often resort to hair-pulling when fighting.

    8. When someone hits a subordinate, it is always on the head, and most often across the back of the head.

    9. The wealthy have contempt for those without, and those on the lower rungs kiss the feet of their superiors. Korean society treats the wealthy and the poor completely differently.

    10. If you go into a house you must take off your shoes.

    11. After sleeping, the blankets and pillows go in the closet. If Koreans go into a room, they always shut the windows and doors.

    12. Many marriages are arranged for expediency or convenience.
I am particularly fond of #6.
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Spengler on the Regensburg Address

In Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life, the pseudonymous Asia Times Online columnist calls the Pope's lecture "the Vatican's most controversial utterance in living memory," "comparable to Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech," and "in effect a papal call for the conversion of the Muslims." Be sure to click on the link and read the article in its entirity.
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Monday, September 18, 2006

Political Correction of South Korean Textbooks

The Ministry of Propaganda Education and Human Resources Development appears to be attempting to steer the Korean populace in two contradictory directions, if this blogger has read correctly between the lines of this article: Textbook revision to reflect changing society.

Terms like "working father" and "housewife" will be stricken from the textbooks, as will commonsense lines like the following:
    Father’s hard work as a breadwinner and mother’s supportive role to other family members, which enables them to concentrate on their work, are not only important for the well-being of the family but also that of the country.
The revisons will include new terms like "working mother" and "father who takes care of household chores" but will also aim "to encourage a culture that embraces larger families in order to combat South Korea’s declining birth rate, currently the lowest in the developed world."

Now, there's nothing wrong a "father who takes care of household chores" ─ I'm one of them ─ or a "working mother" ─ my wife is not one of them but mothers often have no choice but to work in today's disordered economy. However, more "working mothers" are the last thing that is needed "to encourage a culture that embraces larger families."

In fact, quite the opposite will occur. South Korea has the developed world's lowest birthrate and also, perhaps, its lowest rate of working mothers. Encouraging working mothers will only serve to exacerbate the problem. More working mothers means more day care centers, which only serve to weaken the family by taking on its most essential function, just as crutches cause leg muscles to atrophy. This violation of The Principle of Subsidiarity, which "holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization," weakens society, of which the family, not the individual, is the basic unit.

The problem is that Progressives, like those of the "Participatory Government" of President Roh Moo-hyun, see the world only in economic terms. To them, working mothers will add more money to the family, allowing them to have more children. We Conservatives know that culture is more important than economics. The problem is economic only in that Korean culture promotes excessive competition in education, and parents can only afford to have one, or at most two, horses in the race. This root cause of the problem must be addressed.

As Sting so wisely begins Spirits in the Material World, "There is no political solution."
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Nice Hanbok, Mrs. Archbishop Milingo

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Humanitarian Interventionists

They are again beating their war drums: Worldwide protests urge action on Darfur. Mr. Charley Reese's five-month-old advice from a piece entitled None of Our Business comes to mind:
    To George Clooney and the other Americans who demonstrated and demanded that the U.S. intervene in the Darfur region of Sudan, I have a simple and clear message: Buy yourself a gun and plenty of ammunition, and go intervene yourself.

    In the 1930s, a tougher breed of Americans didn't just demonstrate. They formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, went to Spain and fought in the Spanish Civil War. A famous movie star, Errol Flynn, risked his life and suffered wounds carrying money through enemy lines to the loyalist forces. Of course, Flynn was no sissy. Before becoming an actor, he was a deep-water sailor and smuggler and barroom brawler par excellence. He was real man, not an image of a man.

    Today's liberals are made of softer stuff. They don't want to fight or get shot at. They are too wealthy and live too comfortable a life. They want some poor American kid making $1,200 a month to go to the African desert and get killed.
Of course, those who joined the appropriately-named Abraham Lincoln Brigade chose the wrong side, but at least they had the guts to fight for a principle.
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By the Sword?

Lutheran seminarian Charles H. Featherstone defends the Pope's intent but not his choice of text, calling the Regensburg address A Warning to the West, Not the East. Here is why:
    Now, I wouldn’t have picked this quote, not because it would be misunderstood, but because while it may accurately reflect what Manuel II Paleologus actually said, it isn’t really true. The emperor, like many Christians, failed to properly appreciate the distinction between spreading Islam and spreading the rule of Islam. The latter was easily spread by the sword, and when Islam emerged from the Arabian peninsula, a region peripheral to the empires of the time, conquer it did. But the Muslim conquerors neither demanded nor expected conversion initially, and the Christians of the Levant and North Africa, who were mostly heretics on the matter of who Jesus was, were happy to exchange a hostile authority with one indifferent to disputes over Christology. Conversion would come, slowly, later, and generally not by compulsion.
He makes a very valid point, but we must remember that Mohammed himself was a general who slaughtered captured enemies. It seems to me that Muslims throughout history have had in general a better record than the founder of their religion. The same can be said of certain Protestant sects and Mormonism, whereas no Catholic could hope to be morally superior to the Founder of our religion.

That said, I am not alone in finding grotesquely ironic the following reactions to a lecture that sparked anger for linking Islam and violence: Italian nun slain by Somali gunmen, Five Palestinian area churches attacked, and Qaeda-led group vows "jihad" over Pope's speech.
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Regensburg Redux

Mr. Justin Raimondo, a non-practicing Catholic, has the following assessment in In Defense of Pope Benedict: The Catholic Church is an enemy of the War Party:
    Out of a complicated and thoroughly delightful narrative on the relationship between faith and reason – intended to illustrate his point that Catholicism is the only authentic alternative to the "primitive" irrationalism of Protestant and Islamic mystics, on the one hand, and godless rationalism on the other – the fanatics (egged on by the media) have latched on to a few paragraphs, which are citations and not even the words of this pope. What is fascinating is his point that the long-term trend within Christian circles, Catholic as well as Protestant, has amounted to a process of "de-Hellenization," i.e., an attempt to divorce Christianity from what the "reformers" regard as alien accretions of the Hellenistic period. Yet the gospels were written in Greek, notes Benedict, and he goes on to explain, in so many words, how the Christian concept of the logos – in the beginning, writes Saint John, was the Logos – assumes a rational, benevolent God.
Also of note are the thoughts of Mr. Filip van Laenen in Brussels, declaring The Moral Victory of The Pope, and those of Mr. Sandro Magister in Islam’s Unreasonable War Against Benedict XVI. And always on topic is this timeless 2003 article by Mr. Edward Feser: Does Islam Need a Luther or a Pope?
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Patriotism and Nationalism

    Patriotism, not nationalism, should inspire the citizen. The ethnic nationalist who wants a linguistically and culturally uniform nation is akin to the racist who is intolerant toward those who look (and behave) differently. The patriot is a "diversitarian"; he is pleased, indeed proud of the variety within the borders of his country; he looks for loyalty from all citizens. And he looks up and down, not left and right.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, from the Wikipedia page on Paleoconservatism.
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Regensburg Fallout

This must be the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories: Israeli-US plot behind pope's remarks: Iran hardline press. The Holy Father's views on the wars in Iraq and Lebanon must have been conveniently flushed down the Orwellian memory hole.

Palestinian Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches have been attacked: Two churches struck in Nablus as Muslim countries criticize pope. To be honest, I expected hundreds dead, as we witnessed in Nigeria after the Danish cartoons. Let us pray that this is the end of it.

Although it is the press that should be apologizing for taking out-of-context quotes and emblazoning them with inflammatory headlines, this is the Christian thing to do: Pope is sorry, reaffirms esteem for Islam and rejection of violence.

Finally, here are the thoughts of two of my favorite bloggers, The Young Fogey and Fr. Jim Tucker respectively: On the row over the Pope’s statement and The Pope's Controversial Remarks at Regensburg.
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Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope's Lecture

The Grey Lady has joined the Muslims of the world in demanding an apology from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI: The Pope's Words*. Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J. has this response: The Pope's speech: lending Islam a helping hand to avoid a downward spiral.

And from Built on a Rock comes a link to some excellent analysis, He bears no malice, but he is a worried man, from which this excerpt comes:
    It is ironic that Benedict XVI finds himself accused of crude anti-Islamic prejudice after quoting a medieval emperor's opinion that Mohammed's violent teachings were "evil and inhuman".

    For no pope in history has made a deeper study of Islam. Having explored every verse of the Koran, and engaged in long debates with Muslim scholars, he rejects the simplistic notion ─ held by fundamentalist Christians, and by the Roman Catholic Church until the middle of the 20th century ─ that Islam is evil. Yet he is convinced that some of its doctrines are morally indefensible.

    In Benedict's view, a profound ambiguity about violence lies at the heart of Islam, arising from the Prophet's belief that faith can be spread by the sword. Mohammed, after all, was a general whose troops beheaded hundreds of enemy captives.

    Asked recently whether he considered Islam to be a religion of peace, the Pope replied: "Islam contains elements that are in favour of peace, just as it contains other elements." Christianity, by contrast, he sees as a religion of pure peace ─ which is why he adopts a near-pacifist approach to conflict in the Middle East.

    Where the pontiff differs from his predecessor is in his impatience with what might be termed "Islamic political correctness".

    John Paul II hoped that prayer could bring Christians and Muslims closer together, and famously prayed alongside Islamic leaders at Assisi in 1986. He also reassured Muslims that "we believe in the same God".

    Benedict would emphasise that the Islamic understanding of God is radically different from that of Christians.
This view of Islam attributed to the Holy Father is exactly my own:
    [T]he Pope subscribes to a version of the "clash of civilisations" theory, which sees a fundamental incompatibility between Western and Islamic cultures. In his opinion, the primary aim of Christian-Muslim discussion is to avoid conflict.
*Use BugMeNot.com to bypass registration.
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Friday, September 15, 2006

120 Million

That was the death toll of Secularism's big three alone in the last century, as reported by TS in A Shocking Record. As Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky is said to have observed, "If there is no God, everything is permissible."
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ROK-US Relations

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Also Sprach Papst Benedikt XVI

Signore Sandro Magister offers us "[a]n anthology of the homilies and speeches delivered by Benedict XVI during his trip to Bavaria" in Munich, Altötting, Regensburg: Diary of a Pilgrimage of Faith.

And, unrelated, there was this papal message of condolence to King George Tupou V and the people of the "Friendly Islands" quoted in Pontiff Mourns Death of King of Tonga:
    I was saddened to learn of the death of His Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, your beloved father, and I send my heartfelt condolences to you, the royal family and all the people of Tonga...

    Assuring the bereaved of my prayers and spiritual closeness at this time of national mourning, I commend the long reigning late king to the loving mercy of Almighty God and invoke upon the country the divine gifts of consolation and peace.

    As a pledge of hope in the risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I impart my apostolic blessing.
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Counter-cultural Cloppenburg ─ Hope for Europe

Good news from Europe is hard to come by these days, so forgive me if I quote extensively from this wonderful LA Times* article, No Dearth of Births in This Town:
    This region's rhythms and religious beliefs, its sense of community and devotion to family, run counter to an increasingly secular, egoistic Europe, some say. In many ways, Cloppenburg, a place of prams and tiny bikes, is a glimpse less of the continent's future than its past.

    "It's still accepted here that the woman stays home with the children, at least in the early years," said Markus Meckelnborg, a financial consultant with four children in the neighboring town of Emstek. "The question is, why is the trend going away from what's happening here? People are running away from church for this self-absorbed life and they end up at a shrink's office."

    He sat at his dining room table and looked out across the patio. "It's not that everyone is following all the Catholic teachings, but the church's emphasis on the family is very strong here," he said. "We're not anonymous to one another. In a big city, people just want financial advice from the banker. But here they want the banker to know who they are, to understand their biographies."

    North Sea winds shimmy through Cloppenburg's fields and whistle through its alleys. A Catholic enclave for more than two centuries, its families lived on rigid traditions and farmed sandy soils that seldom brought riches. In the 1950s, the economy shifted to livestock and slaughterhouses.

    The local government offered tax breaks and affordable land to businesses and families. Today, unemployment is about 5%, compared with the national rate of 10.5%.

    "Our success is that we were able to get ahead together," said Franz-Josef Holzenkamp, a member of Parliament representing the Cloppenburg region, which has a population of 156,215. "People stick to each other. They feel a responsibility to the place. The people here don't plan if they're going to have a child, they just say how many."

    Holzenkamp, the son of a pig farmer, is one of seven children. He and his wife have four of their own.

    "The family belongs to Cloppenburg's moral structure," he said. "It helps because we have a high standard of living and people aren't scared of the future like they are in a lot of Germany. I think with globalization, the individual needs a piece of home. We call it heimat."

    The Rev. Michael Heyer is a slight man with a feel for demographic trends and the New Testament. The other day he strolled past magnolia and pine, waving to the choir gathering at a nearby school. He turned toward St. Margaretha's. The Catholic Church had 70 first communions last year, Heyer said, adding, "We do have weekends without funerals, but never one without a baptism."

    He pushed open the door and slipped into the nave. Stained glass turned the light to amber. "Ninety percent of people here own their own house," Heyer said. "The social life is dominated by associations and organizations from sports clubs to fire brigades. The people want their clubs to be the best. They want their front lawns trimmed. Children are part of it all. The extended family is strong. You always have a grandmother next door."

    The crack of a pew, like ice breaking across a lake, occasionally echoed through the weekday quiet of the church. Heyer pointed to a wooden crucifix with a life-size Christ lying on the stones near the altar. "It's just a simple village church, but I want to hoist this crucifix to the ceiling," he said. "I'm young and my parishioners are young; much is possible."

    Several miles away, past real estate brokers who advertise homes for "families rich with children," the students at the Paul Gerhardt Elementary School do not bless themselves with holy water. They are Protestants. And among their number is a major reason why Cloppenburg has so many youngsters: Germans who left Russia and other Soviet-bloc countries as communism collapsed.

    Many of them are Pentecostals, converted by missionaries who ventured across Europe after the Berlin Wall fell. They believe, as one local politician put it, "in having armies of kids." It is not uncommon for such families to have eight to 10 children; their growing clans helped the Cloppenburg population grow by 21% between 1990 and 2000.
*Use BugMeNot.com to bypass registration.
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Fighting Cancer Through Aging

That appears to be just what Providence had in Mind with p16-Ink4a: Gene Found to Switch Off Stem Cells During Aging. This research seems to be a reality check for followers of Transhumanism and Extropianism that they would be better to search elsewhere for eternal life:
    One implication is that therapists hoping to increase longevity must tackle a system that may be hard to cheat. Any intervention that reduces production of the Ink-4 protein in order to prevent the age-related decline of stem cells will also increase the risk of cancer.

    "There is no free lunch — we are all doomed," Dr. Sharpless said. But he quickly modified his comment by noting that a calorically restricted diet is one intervention that is known to increase lifespan and reduce cancer, at least in laboratory mice.
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Tri-Racial Isolates, Sir Peter Ustinov, and Heraldric Blackamoors

Links from the post below led in some interesting directions. I had known that Heather Locklear was a member of the Lumbee Tribe, a group of Triracial isolates, since the time I had learned about the Jackson Whites, another such group, a few years ago. But I did not know that Sir Peter Ustinov, one of my favorite actors, was a descendant of both the Russian and Ethiopian Imperial houses. [See The Blurred Racial Lines of Famous Families.] Also, in SIGILLUM SECRETUM, I learned of the rich history behind the blackamoor in Heraldry, as seen on the Coat of Arms of His Holiness Benedict XVI.
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Exogamy

Over at Eunomia, I stumbled across an old article by Mr. Steve Sailer entitled Is Love Colorblind?, which explores why "[w]hile interracial marriage is increasingly accepted by whites, a surprising number of Asian men and black women are bitterly opposed." This is just one of the author's many fascinating Articles on Interracial Marriage, which dare to seek answers to questions that make some uncomfortable. Mr. Sailor's opinion on the matter is summed up with this statement from an article entitled On Interracial Marriage:
    My bottom line view on marriage: you ought to marry the person you love. The alternatives─marrying a person you don't love or not marrying at all─are worse.

    I didn't exactly come up with that idea all by myself. Over the last millennium, this has become the predominant view of Western Civilization. In fact, it may be Western Civilization's most defining characteristic... Increasing freedom to form love matches reflects the West's distinctive values such as individualism, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Interesting point, that last one, especially when juxtaposed with the statement that follows:
    In much of the rest of the world, arranged marriages and inbreeding are the norm. Among Muslims in West Asia and North Africa, the ideal marriages are arranged ones with first cousins. In Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan close to half of all marital pairings are between first or second cousins.
One Muslim unafraid to ponder whether this was responsible for the relative backwardness of his people was Mahathir bin Mohamad in his 1970 book The Malay Dilemma.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Vicar of Christ on Islam

The media prove themselves utterly incapable of making sense of the Holy Father's latest statements, as these contradictory headlines suggest: Pope invites Muslims to dialogue; Pope enjoys private time after slamming Islam; Pope criticises Islamic extremism in Germany visit; Pope reflects on reason, Islam and the West; Pope Tackles Sensitive Topic of Jihad; Pope's words may roil Muslims; Pope decries 'holy wars' based on religion; Pope decries faith by force; Pope, Citing Islam, Criticizes Holy Wars and Fanaticism; Pope Assails Secularism, Adding Note on Jihad; Pope's speech hits on Islamic radicals; Pope reaches out to Muslims; Pope Condemns Violence in Name of God.

The reader is invited to put on his or her own thinking cap and read the lecture in full, quoted here by Vatican insider Sandro Magister: The Best of Greek Thought Is “An Integral Part of Christian Faith”.
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Remember Terri?

World Science offers an article about another disabled person described as being in a "persistent vegetative state," which, it will be remembered, is but a subjective diagnosis: "Vegetative" patient can think, study suggests.

The following may impugn─ or perhaps in some circles enhance ─this blogger's reputation, but as a wild and crazy teenager, due to a synergetic interaction of ETOH, N2O, and THC, I once found myself in a state for about twenty minutes in which I was unable to speak or act, but was completely cognizant of my surroundings. How horrible it would be if that were anywhere near how Mrs. Schiavo spent her last fourteen days of earthly life.
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Mary's City

Here is the story of the 57th annual pilgrimage to Pakistan's Marian shrine: Converts from Islam on pilgrimage to Mariamabad, "Asia’s Lourdes". This article by Fr Ladis J. Cizik comes to mind: Our Lady And Islam: Heaven's Peace Plan.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thinking the Unthinkable

Mr. Roy F. Moore reminds us to pray for the dead and their families and gives us a few links in this post: The 9/11 Tragedy: Homemade or No? In contrast, Mr. Stephen Hand, himself no neocon, will have none of this: If As an Activist You Think the US Government is Responsible for 9/11... Me? My faith in either Democracy or the Cheney-Rumsfeld Administration is not strong enough to allow me to categorically dismiss stories like the following: 9/11 was an 'inside job' to justify invasion of oil-rich Arab countries: US scientists.
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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.