Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Abortion As a Sacrament"

I've heard the above metaphor used ironically by my co-religionists to describe the attitude of those obsession with killing the unborn, but this is the first time I've seen it used seriously by a pro-abort ─ Abortion and the Earth. As the title suggests, the author argues the usual eco-misanthropy.

Leaving that argument aside, this is far more interesting, and contentious:
    Although it is condoned, abortion is not treated casually by traditional Japanese culture. The life of the aborted embryo or fetus is honored through a ritual practice called mizuko jizo. Mizuko means "child of the water" and is used to refer to the soul of a child who has been returned to the gods. Jizo is the name of the Buddhist god who protects and guides that soul on its journey to another world. The parents purchase a doll, adorn it and enshrine it in a temple, where it is cared for by priests.

    Abortion is regarded as the parents deciding to return a child to the gods, sending a child to a temporary place until such time that it is right for the child to come into this world, either into the same family or another one. The child is returned because the parents, at that time, would be unable to provide enough love, money or attention to this child without it being to the detriment of their present family. Practicing mizuko jizo allows the parents to provide a certain amount of attention to the child, who is seen as a member of their family, to apologize to the child and to ask for forgiveness from the child for being unable to bring it up.

    Honoring the life of the embryo or fetus transforms abortion from a sin to a sacrament. To understand that a tiny embryo must sometimes be sacrificed for the greater good of the family or the human species as a whole is the moral high ground that we stand on today.
I discussed the above in a post entitled South Korea, "Abortion Paradise", in which I linked to this insightful article ─ Rites for the Unborn Dead: Abortion and Buddhism in Contemporary Korea. In it, author Frank Tedesco makes the following observation:
    There is no common or public practice of rites for aborted fetuses in Korea as is practiced in Japan. There are no red bibbed statues of Ksitigarbha (Japanese: Jizo; Korean: Chijang) to be found on streets and cemeteries in Korea like you can observe in Japan. Nor are there commercial newspaper ads for mizuko kuyo ("water baby offering rites") as found in the Japanese press. Japan has thousands of temples where aborted fetuses are memorialized; Korea probably has no more than ten or twelve sanctuaries where ceremonies for aborted babies are performed.
I remember seeing the little "red bibbed statues of Ksitigarbha" at many temples in Japan, but at only one temple here in Korea, which also had the "water baby offering rite." They were quite moving. But the idea that this "transforms abortion from a sin to a sacrament" is an utterly false analogy, akin to arguing that the act of murder is itself The Sacrament of Penance, which the Mizuko kuyo resembles.

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Two-Timing Wife cum Human Rights Activist

Ok So-ri, "indicted on Jan. 16 for having an extramarital affair" "has filed a petition with the Uijeongbu District Court asking it to ask the Constitutional Court to consider if the country's adultery law is unconstitutional" ─ Actress Petitions to Scrap Adultery Law. She "said that the adultery law violates the individual's constitutionally-protected rights to privacy and to freely engage in sexual activities."

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Lee Myung-bak, Theocrat?

"I declare that the City of Seoul is a holy place governed by God; the citizens in Seoul are God's people; the churches and Christians in Seoul are spiritual guards that protect the city ... I now dedicate Seoul to the Lord," said the president-elect when he was mayor of Seoul ─ A 'God-given' president-elect.

(Author Sunny Lee tells us that "Christianity was introduced to Korea in the late 19th century." I guess those who brought the gospel to Korea at least a century earlier (or three, if you count the Catholic samurais in The Imjin War) do not count because they were, as even Korean Catholics sometimes say, "Catholics not Christians.")

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The Banality of Evil Air Power

Tom Engelhardt writes ─ Bombs away over Iraq: Who cares? The Asia Times Online blurb:
    When, in April 1937, the German Condor Legion dropped 45,000 kilograms of explosives on the Spanish town of Guernica, international outrage followed, and Pablo Picasso was inspired to paint his now famous Guernica. When the US Air Force recently loosed 45,000 kilograms of bombs on a small Sunni farming district in Iraq, there was hardly a peep. These days, only "insurgent" suicide bombings warrant media attention, while the US's air "surge" is politely played down.
Roma locuta est, causa finita estHoly See: Cluster Bombs Never Acceptable.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vive la Palestine libre!

A conservative blog for peace informs us how we can "[h]ave a message spray-painted on the Palestine wall for €30" ─ Graffiti for a good cause. Appropriate subject matter might be the treatment of our co-religionists, which the embarassing Catholic Friends of Israel would likely ignore were it brought to their attention ─ Restrictions by Israel on Roman Catholics.

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Melitus Mugabe Were, Requiescat in Pace

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Richert on Race

In reponse to the ensuing controvery at Taki's Top Drawer (reported on these pages yesterday), Scott P. Richert "weigh[s] in on these questions from a Catholic standpoint" ─ Race, Nationalism, and Patriotism, Part I: Race.

[link via The New Beginning]

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Galileo and the Church

Persistent myths merit persistent debunking, and Robert Spencer's is as good as anyone's ─ The Galileo Myth. Quoting Thomas Woods: "But even if the Galileo incident had been every bit as bad as people think it was, John Henry Cardinal Newman, the celebrated nineteenth-century convert from Anglicanism, found it revealing that this is practically the only example that ever comes to mind."

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Arlo Guthrie and Ron Paul

Great news ─ Great Folksinger Endorses Great Peace Candidate. The statement:
    I love this guy. Dr. Paul is the only candidate I know of who would have signed the Constitution of The United States had he been there. I'm with him, because he seems to be the only candidate who actually believes it has as much relevance today as it did a couple of hundred years ago. I look forward to the day when we can work out the differences we have with the same revolutionary vision and enthusiasm that is our American legacy.

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Sibel Edmonds' "Hot and Sexy" Story

The "heroic whistleblower on nuclear secrets corruption at the highest levels" was told her story would not be covered in the American media unless it had the above attributes, she reaclls in this interview ─ Sibel Edmonds: 'Buckle Up, There's Much More Coming'.

Sibel Edmonds is the type of raven-haired beauty I've always fallen for, but her story, "hot and sexy" as it is to many of us, might be far beyond the comprehension of a population that found The Iran-Contra Affair too complex to merit a second glance.

"Now there's a conspiracy for you," says Gary Leupp, providing the most succint description of her allegations I've yet read ─ A Sibel Edmonds Timeline:
    As former FBI translator and whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds has revealed, there was a curious failure of the government before 9/11 to act upon intelligence pertaining to an al-Qaeda attack. Most importantly Edmonds, defying the gag order that former Attorney General Ashcroft imposed on her in 2002, is implicating Marc Grossman, formerly the number three man in the State Department, in efforts to provide U.S. nuclear secrets to Pakistan and Israel. She suggests this was done through Turkish contacts and Pakistani contacts, including the former head of Pakistan's ISI who funneled funds to Mohamed Atta!
While not devling into the above, M K Bhadrakumar's article does provide some background to the forces at play ─ US plays matchmaker to Pakistan, Israel.

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Garrison Keillor Invokes an Archangel

For intercessions against "the grief that old righteous people inflict on the young, such as our public schools" ─ Where is St. Michael? The first paragraph:
    Back in the day, we fundamentalists didn't mess with angels, sensing that Catholics owned the angel franchise, part of their dim smoky world of bead-rattling and hocus-pocus and lugubrious statuary, so instead we focused on the Holy Spirit who dwelt in all of us true believers and told us what to do and what to say, which is convenient for people with plenty of self-confidence. You read some Scripture and work up a sweat over it and stand up in the sunlit sanctuary, no dinging or chanting, no costumes or choreography, and you open your mouth and out comes Truth, such as the doctrine of Separation from the World, which was appealing to those of us with no social skills -- if people didn't like us, it was proof of our righteousness.
After a few paragraphs, he gets to the heart of the matter:
    Reading is the key to everything. Teaching children to read is a fundamental moral obligation of the society. That 27 percent are at serious risk of crippling illiteracy is an outrageous scandal.

    This is a bleak picture for an old Democrat. Face it, the schools are not run by Republican oligarchs in top hats and spats but by perfectly nice, caring, sharing people, with a smattering of yoga/raga/tofu/mojo/mantra folks like my old confreres. Nice people are failing these kids, but when they are called on it, they get very huffy. When the grand poobah Ph.D.s of education stand up and blow, they speak with great confidence about theories of teaching, and considering the test results, the bums ought to be thrown out.

    There is much evidence that teaching phonics really works, especially with kids with learning disabilities, a growing constituency. But because phonics is associated with behaviorism and with conservatives, and because the Current Occupant has spoken on the subject, my fellow liberals are opposed.

    Liberal dogma says that each child is inherently gifted and will read if only he is read to. This was true of my grandson; it is demonstrably not true of many kids, including my sandy-haired, gap-toothed daughter. The No Child Left Behind initiative has plenty of flaws, but the Democrats who are trashing it should take another look at the Reading First program. It is morally disgusting if Democrats throw out Republican programs that are good for children. Life is not a scrimmage. Grown-ups who stick with dogma even though it condemns children to second-class lives should be put on buses and sent to North Dakota to hoe wheat for a year.

    St. Michael, I beg you to send angels to watch over fourth-graders who are struggling to read, because the righteous among us are not doing the job.
My thoughts on the evil Whole Language Ideology are found in these posts ─ Whole Language's Disastrous Consequences Predicted by Science Fiction Writer in 1953 and The Fall of Phonics, the Rise of Dyslexia, and the Fraud of Korean Private Education.

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The Fightin' Side of Merle

"When songwriters such as Merle Haggard begin changing their minds on Iraq, then the end signs of the Republican Party are truly amongst us," concludes Vedran Vuk, on a songwriter who sings, "Let’s get out of Iraq and get back on track, and let’s rebuild America first" ─ This Ain’t No Dixie Chick.

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The "Father of Reaganomics" on the Death of the Dollar

"It is difficult to know where Bush has accomplished the most destruction, the Iraqi economy or the US economy," begins Dr. Paul Craig Roberts ─ How Bush Destroyed the Dollar.

[link via The New Beginning]

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John Zmirak Speaks Truth to Racialist Morons

A must-read for the "millions of people out there who feel that it is legitimate for Americans (and majority Europeans in their respective countries) to try to retain the basic cultural identity of their homeland" and who "would likewise defend the right of Japanese, Brazilians, Fiji Islanders, and other nations to preserve the historic character of their countries" ─ Rejecting Racialism.

This parenthetical line stand out: "In all my years of mixing with people who favor paring back immigration, I can count the number of genuine xenophobes on two hands—with one middle finger left over that I can hold up towards La Raza, and another to aim at David Duke."

[link via The New Beginning]

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mercenary Justice

"Protesters who re-enacted one of Blackwater's worst civilian massacres in Iraq got jail time, while the real killers remain free," reports Jeremy Scahill ─ Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction.

"Thousands of serious allegations of crimes in Iraq and only one mercenary has been prosecuted," reports Ali Gharib ─ "Jackasses with Guns": Mercenaries Terrorize Iraq

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A Muslim Classical Liberal?

"The Islamic community has reverted back to pre-Islamic Arabia, to a tribalism that has lost its values," says Zuhdi Jasser ─ Americanism vs. Islamism: A personal perspective.

Wonderful as it is to read a Muslim approvingly quote Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826) and Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 - 1859), this reader is disappointed by the author's conclusion with these words of The American Lenin: "America is the world’s last greatest hope for mankind."

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Liberal Fascism Panned

The American Conservative and Taki's Top Drawer have both trashed neocon Jonah Goldberg's new book. For Austin W. Bramwell, the book "confirms anew George Orwell’s remark—cited by Goldberg without irony—that fascism has no meaning today other than 'something not desirable'" ─ Goldberg’s Trivial Pursuit. For Paul Edward Gottfried, reading the book was "a rude encounter with a younger generation, one that knows very little about the history of civilization but which has gained a certain media respectability" ─ Heil Hillary?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Invade Pakistan?

"It is hard to believe that responsible men are actually proposing American military operations in the tribal territories," says William Pfaff ─ Itching to invade? U.S. never learns. The author continues, "No foreign force has ever been successful there. The American army is pushed to its limit, already committed to an evolving and by no means reassuring struggle in Iraq, and fighting a losing war against the Taliban in Afghanistan."

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The Essence of Decentralism

Explained by one of its premier proponents ─ Kirkpatrick Sale: The Decentralist Movement - A Third Way. The author identifies four points: "1. Decentralism is the basic human condition;" "2. Decentralism is the historic norm;" "3. Decentralism is deeply American;" and "4. Decentralism continues even now, it is alive and well in this country and around the world."

[link via The New Beginning ]

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A Swiss America

Michael S. Rozeff on how to end the "merry-go-round of crises, each one connected to the last" ─ Getting to American Neutrality.

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Internal Passports Come to America

Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, issues a stark warning ─ American Liberty Teetering on Edge of Abyss. An excerpt:
    Thanks to a government that has turned its back on the US Constitution, Americans now have an unaccountable Department of Homeland Security that is already asserting tyrannical powers over US citizens and state governments. Headed by the neocon fanatic Michael Chertoff, the Orwellian-sounding Department of Homeland Security has mandated a national identity card for Americans, without which Americans may not enter airports or courthouses.

    There is no more need for this card than there is for a Department of Homeland Security. Neither are compatible with a free society.

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Sibel Edmonds and Valerie Plame

"Is it really time to consider moving to, say, a Pacific atoll and waiting out the catastrophe looming just down the road a bit?" asks Justin Raimondo, after detailing the former's testimony on the latter's outing and the allegations that those "stealing our nuclear secrets" are "being shielded by the authorities" ─ None Dare Call It Treason.

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They Don't Make 'Em Like Doc Watson Anymore

Will the Circle Be Unbroken was part of the care package brought over by my parents, making this read all the more poignant ─ Doc Watson, The Gray Eminence of Bluegrass. An excerpt:
    He has had a long and fabulous career, becoming one of the most influential folk musicians of the last half-century, but he is turning 85 on March 2 -- and even Doc Watson cannot go on forever. In the past few years, his deep, warm baritone has cracked when he belts out the yodeling songs of another favorite, Jimmie Rodgers. His guitar runs still astonish, but not as often, and he'll make a fingering mistake that would have been unthinkable in his earlier days, when he practically rewrote the book on playing acoustic guitar.

    That's why for Doc Watson fans, the fact that he is still performing is both a blessing and an occasion for anxiety. He has been indomitable, almost superhuman, and his stature in bluegrass, in folk music and in country music cannot be matched.

    [....]

    Doc Watson, then, cannot be ordinary. But when asked, some hours before performing here on a Friday night earlier this month, whether this is indeed his last ride, he gave a deep sigh.

    He locked his blind eyes on his questioner and said finally, quietly, "I haven't the faintest idea. But I'll have to sooner or later, because my hands can't do this much longer. I can't play like I could 30 or 40 years ago. The speed's not there and the clarity's not there. My reflexes are slowing down, and there's not a thing I can do about it."
Here's a clip from "30 or 40 years ago:"
    Earl Scruggs & Doc Watson - John Hardy

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Confucian or Taoist?

Despite this blog's name, like The Useless Tree's Sam Crane, I am "jumbled and inconsistent, alternating between a Confucian desire for propriety and a Taoist embrace of freedom" ─ Walking the Dogs with Confucius and Chuang Tzu.

Descending from the celestial realms of Oriental philosophy to the mundane level of the political, I see much the same dynamic played out in my leanings toward both Paleoconservatism and Paleolibertarianism.

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Subsidized Meat

Over at The Marmot's Hole, R. Elgin contionues the discussion of "commercialized food processing and its impact upon American society" ─ Food Culture — Just What Does Make A Culture Healthy? — A Footnote.

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Tear That Banner Down!

It's uglifying an otherwise beautiful and historic church ─ 한국의 성당건축(13-2)-횡성성당(김정신). As with other old Korean churches, I'm curious as to where the horrible Good News Bible-esque stained-glass windows came from.

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Holland vs. Islam

Crunchy Con Rod Dreher hits upon an apporopriate metaphor for the conflict between my ancestral homeland and much of the rest of the West and Islam ─ Dildos versus scimitars.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Better Eurabia than Brave New World!" Of course, the restoration of Christendom is what I hope for, keeping in mind that Hope is one of the Theological Virtues.

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Who Are the Cosmopolitans?

"Some of the beltwaytarians have taken to calling themselves 'cosmopolitans' as a way of distinguishing themselves from us un-hip advocates of peace, freedom, limited government, and free enterprise," explains Thomas DiLorenzo ─ Libertines or Libertarians? He explains:
    I think I have an idea of just what a "cosmopolitan" is, and why it is unequivocally not the same as a libertarian. The latter is an advocate of a free society, but not of any particular lifestyle that one chooses. The cosmopolitan, on the other hand, is one who advocates, endorses, and champions particular lifestyle choices.
[link via A conservative blog for peace]

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Who's Responsible for Atonal Twentieth Century Classical Music?

The State, of course, concludes R.J. Stove ─ The Death of Music from the Spirit of Government Subsidies. Says the author, "What characterized classical musical production after 1945—and what had almost never characterized classical musical production before 1945—was something so obvious, so much a part of our daily lives in 2007, that we seldom give a thought to it: namely, unlimited taxpayer funding."

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Like Father, Like Son

Last night, I had fantastic political discussion with my father, a fellow supporter of Dr. Ron Paul. He quoted Washington's Farewell Address, as I often do, and recommended Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill and House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger.

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A Gaijin's Appreciation of Sumo

Tennesseean David M. Weber on his "great appreciation for this sport that is not only a sport but a religious ritual as well" ─ Sumo More Than Just Big Guys in Thongs. I learned the sport was much more than "fat guys in diapers having a shoving match" in my first year in Korea when my on-campus housing offered only three channels connected to the university's language education center, one of them NHK. I made my mother a fan during her last visit.

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Catholics vs. Communists in Vietnam

The protests have moved beyond the country's two largest cities ─ Catholics demonstrate in Ha Dong for the return of a building commandeered by the government

Meanwhile, at the former Vatican embassy, Hmong women "were kicked and attacked with batons" after they had "climbed over the gate to bring flowers to a statue of the Virgin Mary" ─ Catholic prayer vigil turns into clash with Vietnamese police.

Some analysis to the effect that`"improved church-state relations have meant the Vietnamese government has not cracked down as harshly as it has in the past" ─ Vietnamese Catholics continue pressuring government over stolen property.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Saintly Mother

"Lorraine Allard could have legitimately and morally undergone chemotherapy in this case, even if the treatment had unintentionally resulted in the death of her unborn child," reports Jeff Culbreath, on "what the Church calls 'heroic virtue'" ─ Lorraine Allard: England’s “Gianna Molla”. Click on the link for one of the loveliest photos you'll ever see.

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The Good Doctor at His Best

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Doug Bandow Keeps Making Sense

"Although Lee's victory is important for the Republic of Korea (ROK), it provides Washington with an excellent opportunity to disentangle the U.S. from the peninsula's complications" ─ Korean Troubles Old and New: Time to Bring the Troops Home.

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Justin Raimondo and Chalmers Johnson, American Patriots

A wake-up call that "military expenditures are a drain on the productive capacity of the economy, and that the mistaken idea of... 'military Keynesianism' will eventually be our economic undoing" ─ America – A Bankrupt Empire.

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Back to the Farm

Wylie Harris suggests that what is needed is "convincing homeowner associations that vegetable gardens look as nice as lawns, zoning boards that chickens belong in back yards, and state health agencies that bread baked in home kitchens for sale to neighbors isn’t any likelier to hurt anybody than Wonder Bread" ─ Lawn to Farm: Suburbia’s Silver Lining.

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Hillary vs. Benazir

Dr. Thomas Fleming from an article on "the sense of strangeness I experience every time I turn on the evening news or look at the stories on The Drudge Report or Google News" ─ Strangers in a Strange Land:
    We Americans laugh at the people of India and Pakistan who choose party leaders on the strength of their last names, and then a significant number of us run out to vote for George W. Bush or Hilary Clinton. Benazir Bhutto may be as crooked as Hilary Clinton, but she spoke far better English and was a fine-looking woman, which makes her superior to every female I know in American politics. And, while on this low topic, what man would not follow a pretty air hostess like Sonia Gandhi? Good looks, charm, and an impressive demeanor have always played a part in human affairs, but here in America even our screen idols are monkey-faced women and epicene males.

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Three Americatowns in Seoul

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Dear Leader's Days Numbered

A report that "Kim Jong-Il's regime could collapse within six months" ─ Clock ticking for Kim's Korea.

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Grand Prix Mysterium Vitae

A prize with a great name given to a great man ─ Cardinal Pell given Korean "Award for Life".

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Sporadic Posting Ahead

I was unable to post yesterday as we picked up my parents at the Incheon International Airport for a two-week stay. After a night at Ohmokgyo Co-Op Residence, an affordable place to stay in the Korean capital, we have arrived in Pohang. I'll still post, but likely not as much as normal.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sundubu Jjigae in L.A. and Beyond

The tale of an entrepreneuress who "took a common dish from her native country and turned it into an empire that spans the ocean" ─ Koreatown's queen of tofu stew.

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Ban Religion for Freedom!

It's difficult to tell if this is a failed parody within a parody or the work of a very confused individual ─ The end of religion the begining of libertarianism. The author, a supporter of "Libertarian Interventionism" (!?), calls himself The Statist (!?) and pledges "to confuse Ron Paul supporters into supporting Ron Paul's anti-libertarian ideas" (!?).

(I'm flattered by the fact that the sixth commenter quoted my months-old article Ron Paul Tzu in full to refute the muddled thinking.)

Paleoconservative that I am, I have trouble recognizing as coherent anything other than what used to be called Paleolibertarianism, which, according to Lew Rockwell, "has made its peace with religion as the bedrock of liberty, property, and the natural order."

[link to article via Catholic and Enjoying It!]

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The Sentencing of Abu Abdallah al-Muhajir, a.k.a. José Padilla

A link from Catholic and Enjoying It! about "the wrong Muslim at the wrong airport on the wrong day" ─ Jose Padilla: We Hardly Knew Ye. Noting that "the hapless Padilla was sentenced to 17 years in prison today after having been found guilty of the small handful of remaining charges that the government had not been embarrassed into dropping," Shaun Mullen has this to say:
    The government had initially boasted that the former Chicago gang member turned Muslim was the “Dirty Bomber” and intended to detonate a crude nuclear device in a major American city. But by the time Padilla went on trial last fall, there wasn’t a peep about the bomb plot because it would have opened the door to the administration’s use of torture and other coercive interrogation techniques.

    For me, Padilla has been the ultimate wake-up call to the true character of the Bush administration: Imprisoning one of its own citizens on U.S. soil with no charges of any kind and then keeping him for years incommunicado, a line that I never though I would see crossed in my beloved America.

    What is doubly sad is that the entire Padilla saga aroused so little controversy.
"Seventeen years and four months seems to me to be an extraordinarily long sentence for little more than a thought crime," concludes historian Andy Worthington ─ Padilla's Sentence Should Shock and Disgust All Americans. The author offers this chilling account of the torture of an American citizen, and what it means:
    Padilla's sentence – in what at least one perceptive commentator called "the most important case of our lifetimes" – is particularly shocking because it sends a clear message to the president of the United States that he can, if he wishes, designate a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant," hold him without charge or trial in a naval brig for 43 months, and torture him – through the use of prolonged sensory deprivation and solitary confinement – to such an extent that, as the psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty explained after spending 22 hours with Padilla, "What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being's mind."

    Padilla's warders had another take on his condition, describing him as "so docile and inactive that he could be mistaken for 'a piece of furniture,'" but the most detailed analysis of the effects of his torture was, again, provided by Hegarty in an interview last August with Democracy Now!

    Juan Gonzalez: "And have you dealt with someone who had been in isolation for such a long period of time before?"

    Dr. Angela Hegarty: "No. This was the first time I ever met anybody who had been isolated for such an extraordinarily long period of time. I mean, the sensory deprivation studies, for example, tell us that without sleep, especially, people will develop psychotic symptoms, hallucinations, panic attacks, depression, suicidality within days. And here we had a man who had been in this situation, utterly dependent on his interrogators, who didn't treat him all that nicely, for years. And apart from – the only people I ever met who had such a protracted experience were people who were in detention camps overseas, that would come close, but even then they weren't subjected to the sensory deprivation. So, yes, he was somewhat of a unique case in that regard."

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Blood Red Rain

This article is more worthy or a read than its the title makes it appear ─ Claim of alien cells in rain may fit historical accounts: study.

It begins with the theory "that strange red rains in In­dia six years ago might have con­tained mi­crobes from out­er space" and other "his­tor­i­cal ac­counts link­ing col­ored rain to me­te­or pass­ings." Such "pnenomena were recorded in times and places as var­ied as Clas­si­cal Rome, me­di­e­val Ire­land, Nor­man Brit­ain and 19th cen­tu­ry Cal­i­for­nia." In the Indian case, scientists found unidentified "cell-like specks that gave the wa­ter its scar­let hue." Notably, these specks were "with­out DNA."

It seems to me that before we speculate about "lit­tle aliens" or "a kind of al­ter­nate life from space," we need to determine if these "cell-like par­t­i­cles" are or were indeed living. In "un­pub­lished pa­pers," God­frey Lou­is and A. San­thosh Ku­mar of In­di­a’s Ma­hat­ma Gan­dhi Un­ivers­ity have "claimed the par­t­i­cles could re­pro­duce in ex­treme heat." Still, there remains "the knot­ty ques­tion of how mi­cro-aliens might have stayed aloft for months af­ter burst­ing out of a me­te­or."

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Plato vs. Singer, Bentham, Dewey, et. al.

In this 2004 must-read essay, Catholic philosopher Alice von Hildebrand reminds us that "the best among the pagans were open to the light, and made contributions that keep their full value" whereas "[t]oday, some leading educators try to extinguish what is left of the light of the Gospel" ─ Pagans or Apostates?

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Fighting Eugenics One Birth at a Time

Vox Nova's Radical Catholic Mom reviews a book that "questions the wide use of pre-natal genetic testing and the social consequences the results bring forth" ─ Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics.

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Today's Economic Gloom and Doom Links

"[T]he debt crisis is now the greatest threat to the American republic," explains Prof. Chalmers Johnson, singling out what he calls "Military Keynesianism" ─ How to Sink America.

"The outlook for the United States will continue to worsen as long as hegemonic superpower and free trade delusions prevail in Washington," concludes Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and "Father of Reaganomics" ─ Neither Supply-Side Theory Nor Keynesian Remedies Can Save Us Now.

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Sibel Edmonds in The American Conservative

Her "chilling story of corruption at Washington’s highest levels─sale of nuclear secrets, shielding of terrorist suspects, illegal arms transfers, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, espionage" is now being told in America ─ Found in Translation.

Daniel Ellsberg on the story "that was front-page news in much of the rest of the world but was not reported in a single American newspaper or network" ─ Covering Up the Coverage - The American Media’s Complicit Failure to Investigate and Report on the Sibel Edmonds Case.

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Bush Lied; Thousands Upon Thousands Died

Of the "935 false statements in the two-year period.... Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida" ─ Study: False statements preceded war.

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"US Military Breaks Ranks"

The first part of an Asia Times Online series of that title by Mark Perry on what will fascinate historians for years to come ─ A salvo at the White House.

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Jane Roe's Endorsement of Ron Paul

"Ron Paul’s consistent pro-life stand throughout his years in congress — not to mention his years as an OB/GYN — has won him the support of Norma McCorvey" ─ “Jane Roe” Endorses Ron Paul on Roe v. Wade Anniversary. Here's the text of her statement:
    I support Ron Paul for president because we share the same goal, that of overturning Roe v Wade. Ron Paul doesn’t just talk about being pro-life, he acts on it. His voting record truly is impeccable and he undoubtedly understands our constitutional republic and the inalienable right to life for all. Ron Paul is the prime author of H.R. 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v. Wade. As the signor of the affidavit that legalized abortion 35 years ago I appreciate Ron Paul’s action to restore protection for the unborn. Ron Paul has also authored H.R. 1094 in Congress, which seeks to define life as beginning at conception. He has never wavered on the issue of being pro-life and has a voting record to prove it. He understands the importance of civil liberties for all, including the unborn.

    After taking all of the presidential candidates into consideration, it is obvious that Ron Paul is the only one that doesn’t just talk the talk. For this reason and those stated above, I am publicly endorsing Ron Paul for president.
[link via Pewsitter.com]

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jesuits in Asia

One of their ranks, Father Adolfo Nicolas, who "has lived almost uninterrupted in the Far East since 1964," has been elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus ─ Will the New "Black Pope" Work? A bit on the order's Asian history:
    The Asian experience is an old strength of the order: St. Francis Xavier being the Jesuit's great Apostle to the East, who converted hundreds in Japan, died off the coast of China and has his body enshrined in the Indian city of Goa. Jesuits converted the last survivors of the Ming dynasty to Catholicism as they fled the Manchu invaders in the mid-17th century.

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Jane Roe to Endorse Ron Paul

Thirty-five years and 45 million murdered babies later, she's now a powerful voice against abortion, as is the Good Doctor ─ Ron Paul to Hold News Conference with Norma McCorvey ('Jane Roe') on Anniversary of 'Roe v. Wade' Decision.

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Generation that Survived Abortion Seeks to End It

"Born into a time after Roe vs. Wade, many young adults are eager to reverse it," begins this report ─ Antiabortion cause stirs new generation.

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Mitt's Pretty Fly for a White Guy

The video of the governor "with African-American families at a parade" accompanying this article is painful to watch ─ Romney: Who Let the Dogs Out? An exerpt:
    He jumped off the Mitt Mobile to greet a waiting crowd, took a picture with some kids and young adults and awkwardly quipped, ”Who let the dogs out? Who who.”

    He took pictures with many in the crowd and greeted one baby wearing a necklace saying, “Hey buddy! How’s it going? What’s happening? You got some bling bling here!”
This guy's phoniness is astounding!

[link via LewRockwell.com Blog]

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Daniel Day-Lewis

Steve Sailer is right to say that his "combination of English privileged-class panache and American Method Acting self-absorbed intensity has made him possibly the most formidable of all contemporary screen presences" ─ "There Will Be Blood". His performances in The Last of the Mohicans (1992), The Crucible (1996), and The Age of Innocence (1993) each in a very different way capture the archetypal American male.

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Stephen Hand's Poem for Little Girls

As only the father of one could write ─ Don't You Worry, Little Girl...

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Hillary, Patroness of the Sciences?

Prof. Eduardo Velásquez takes apart her claim that "When science is politicized, it is worse than wrong . . . It is dangerous – dangerous for democracy" ─ Science and Statesmanship. For example, the author "suspect[s] that she is as concerned as anyone in the Bush administration is about the proliferation of scientific knowledge that would lead to, say, the creation and distribution of biological weapons."

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Reactionary Radicals Reviewed

I agree wholeheartedly with Doug French: "There may have been better books than Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists, published in 2006, but I didn't read them" ─ Only Anarchists Are Really Conservative. Mr. French concludes, "Whatever your ideology, Bill Kauffman's words will touch your soul and make you long for his America." Here's my review ─ Steal This Book!

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Islamic Iconography?

CounterPunch is the last place I expected to find this discussion ─ Why Islam Should Tolerate Images.Author B.R. Gowani makes some interesting points. reminding us of the following: "One of the lawgivers (along with Hammurabi, Confucius, Charlemagne, Salon, Moses) on a bas-relief sculpture, on the US Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. is Mohammad." This is a helpful reminder:
    The Shia branch of Islam is not that rigid about pictures and paintings of Mohammad and his family members. However, it can't be said that most of the Sunnis, except the puritans and Wahhabis, are absolutely devoid of object worshipping. They do have their objects which they revere while praying or paying respect. Take, for example, Koran or the names of Allah and Mohammad or the Koranic verses written in calligraphic form on walls, papers, and clothes. Muslims touch them reverently, or kiss them or embrace them to their bosoms not because they see some aesthetic beauty in them; but rather it's the Godly attributes which they feel in them. In mosques and shrines, the Koranic verses are in simple or calligraphic form all around. Not that the believers are incapable of appreciating the artwork, but basically their aim is different, whereas the non-religious, atheists, agnostics, and some artistic minded Muslims would only check if they find them beautiful.
Not mentioned in the article is the fact that Saint John Damascene, author of In Defense of Icons, "was able to write freely since lived under Muslim rule outside the boundaries of the Byzantine emperor."

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Beers to Your Health

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," said Benjamin Franklin, quoted in this article by Robert Duncan ─ Beer's medicinal qualities.

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"Whale Meat City"

I've posted before about my wfie's hometown and its delicacy, and this article offers a good overview ─ In UIsan, eating illicit whale meat is no fish story. An excerpt:
    It’s said here that no part is wasted except the bones and teeth.

    It’s true. A typical plate of steamed assorted parts includes stomach, viscera, tail, skin and fin.

    The most popular part is the viscera, or the guts. The smell can be overwhelming for first-timers, but veteran whale eaters like the chewy texture.

    The locals’ favorite is obegi, steamed tail seasoned with salt. Just 20 years ago, a popular saying in Ulsan went, “You can’t call it a party without obegi on the table.”

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Global Economic Meltdown?

"All markets have plunged some up to -8%" ─ Asian stock markets continue free fall.

"South Korean stocks tumbled nearly 4.5 percent on Jan. 22 as investors were spooked by global selloffs stemming from fears of a U.S. economic recession" ─ Seoul Shares Crash on Panic Selling

"Wake Up America!! We are in dire economic danger," warns Rob Kall ─ Bloody Tuesday? Global Markets See Worst Day since 9/11.. US to Follow?

EnergyBulletin.net offers its own collection of articles ─ Stocks fall, recession ahead?

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A Year Dedicated to the Apostle

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Ron Paul Blackout

Here's some good news ─ Ron Paul Places Second in Nevada Caucus. However, these posts from the LewRockwell.com Blog show how the MSM is trying its best to bury that news ─ We Omit, You Decide, The NY Times Is Anti-Ron Paul, All the News That Fits Our Prejudices.

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Lee Myung-bak and the Era of Gwamegi

Not only does this op-ed piece offer descriptions of Pohang's most famous food, delicious half-dried fish, and its most famous son, the president-elect, it is also a perfect example of the Asian discourse style in which various seemingly unrelated points are made until the last sentence attempts to tie them together ─ Gwamegi.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Catholic (and Confucian) Libertarianism Explained

Casey Khan takes issue with an author who "takes a very narrow view of libertarianism, namely the libertine variety that is often associated with places like the Cato Institute" and who "claims the libertarian patron saint is none other than the uber-egoist Ayn Rand" ─ America: Ron Paul and Catholic Social Teaching. Says Mr. Khan, "Of course, if this was [sic] libertarianism properly understood, as a universal philosophy of living life, then Catholics have no place holding such a political philosophy." He continues:
    However, if there were ever a patron saint of libertarianism, particularly in the modern era, it would probably be the Catholic political philosopher Lord Acton, who famously stated that "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." While Acton holds such a high view of liberty, it should be noted that this view does not go beyond what is political. In other words, Winters is correct when he says "[Catholics] do not value human autonomy..."

    Naturally, the human person is more than just some automaton living out an existence of extreme independence. From birth, we are dependent on parents. At extreme old age and infirmity, we are dependent on our children and our siblings. In our economy, we are interdependent on the actions of our fellow man by making mutual gains from exchange, trade. Most importantly, as Catholics we are dependent on God. Without, the Lord the Giver of life, we'd have no life. Without the sacrifice of the Son on Calvary, we'd have no Resurrection. And so we come to the highest end of humanity, to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our souls. Thus, it is not a necessary condition that libertarian political ideal need be construed to encompass all facets of a persons life beyond its practice politically.

    Libertarian political thought can be summarized as the Golden Rule in negative form*, do not to your brothers as you would have not done to you. This ideal should be seen as a bare minimum for human interaction, and not as a complete universal to human interaction. Caritas to our fellow man is still required, but it does not follow that it is to be carried out through means of brute force and coercion. The Catholic or Christian libertarian simply looks to follow the Golden Rule in negative form regarding political interaction, and in positive form for the balance of his human interaction.
    [emphasis mine]
Click on the link for the rest of a very enlightening read.

*Interestingly, in Confucianism the Golden Rule is also stated in the negative: "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others (己所不欲,勿施于人。)." The Confucian parallel to Catholic caritas is jen (仁), "benevolence." The Sage's political philosophy was one of rule by te (德), "moral example," not force or violence.

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The Greatness of Hangul, the "Great Script"

The story of a professor who "believes that Hangul, or the Korean alphabet, can be learned in a day" ─ Hangul may help others record history. He's right, as anyone who's given it it a try knows. (Learning the lexicology, morphology, and syntax of an agglutinating language with hundreds of prefixes, suffixes, and infixes is a different story.) The remarkable thing about the Korean script is that its letters "resemble the shape of the mouth, teeth, throat and tongue." The letter "ㄱ" is given as an example: "the first letter of the Korean alphabet ― the initial consonant in the word kimchi ― was created to look like the shape of the tongue blocking the throat."

(In fact, however wrongly, I have always taken it as somewhat of an insult to my intelligence when Koreans have expressed astonishment at my unimpressive ability to read their script. Most of the expats across whom I have come here can do the same, although there are those with more than a decade in country who've never bothered to take the day needed to learn it.)

Prof. Lee Hyun-bok, honorary professor of phonetics and linguistics at Seoul National University, has pioneered an "international Korean phonetic alphabet," having "created some 109 letters consisting of 80 consonants and 29 vowels" in addition to "King Sejong’s 11 vowels and 17 consonants" promulgated in 1446. Prof. Lee and others mentioned in the article have for years been exporting the Korean alphabet to unlettered tribes in Thailand and China.

The article rightly concludes that "Hangul is Korea’s best cultural heritage." What was the Korean government thinking when it abolished Hangul Day in 1991?

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Relocalization in Rutland

"All the stereotypes of Rutland, Vermont as 'backward' and 'too conservative' to relocalize its economy through local agriculture were fading into the dustbin of history," reports Carolyn Baker ─ Transforming communities through locally grown food.

Progressives, it seems, thought that "because it is traditional, conservative, ... the assumption has been that this kind of thing would happen in other places in Vermont, but not in Rutland." Readers of this blog would not make the same assumption. What could be more "backward" and "conservative" than relocalization? Here's what all the buzz is about ─ Rutland Area Farm and Food Link.

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La Sapienza

Sandro Magister has the text of what was to be "the follow-up to the formidable lecture in Regensburg, on the ultimate questions of faith and reason" ─ The University of Rome Closes its Doors to the Pope. Here's the Lesson They Didn't Want to Hear.

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Why Do the Hebrews Rage?

And why does the Vicar of Christ feel the need to accomodate them ─ Pope to change controversial prayer on Jews: report?

The "controversial prayer" from the Tridentine Good Friday Liturgy is quoted here ─ Do Not Make Me a Gentile. The title is taken from this apparently non-controversial prayer "recited every day by Orthodox and Conservative Jews:"
    Baruch atah Hashem Elokenu melech haolam, shelo asani goy...
    Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who did not make me a Gentile.
Here's what traditionalist Catholics pray not three times a day but once a year:
    Let us pray also for the Jews: that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Let us pray.
    Let us kneel down.
    Arise.
    Almighty and everlasting God, Who drivest not away from Thy mercy even the Jews: hear our prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people: that acknowledging the light of Thy truth, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness. Through the same our Lord.
    Amen.
The conclusion? "The Tridentine Good Friday liturgy prays for the conversion of the Jews. The Jews thank God they are not gentiles. What's the problem?"

Let us remember what was said by Francis Cardinal George to the Jews regarding this controversy:
    Maybe this is an opening to say, 'Would you care to look at some of the Talmudic literature's description of Jesus as a bastard, and so on, and maybe make a few changes in some of that?'
Or perhaps we all could just learn not to busy ourselves with each others' prayers.

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Moloch Marches On

Undetered by the new and "relatively simple way to turn skin cells directly into stem cells," ─ Scientists Make Human Embryo Clones. As the article reminds us, "Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk claimed a few years ago that he'd created such cell lines, but that turned out to be a fraud." This atrocity, apparently not a fraud, was carried out where else but Califonia.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Hitch Is Not Great

Not only is The Purest Neocon wrong about War, not only is the first among The Hollow Men wrong about God, it turns out that he "is an ignoramus about genome studies" as well ─ Christopher Hitchens dispenses the conventional wisdom.

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Korean Hyper-Masculinity Behind the Wheel

As a balance to the post immediately below this one, you might want to read Cho Se-Hyon's tips for "foreign residents or visitors, who have mustered enough courage to try and drive a car in Seoul and other Korean cities for the first time" ─ In Rome.... The funniest is the last:
    Finally, if you get involved in a minor traffic accident like a fender-bender, you should get out of your car immediately and start shouting at the other drive as loudly and as rudely as you can, accusing him of causing the accident.

    This is especially important even if you are the one who is in the wrong because the person with the loudest voice usually wins any argument in this country. By the way, you shouldn't worry about a traffic jam being formed because your cars are blocking the lane.
In ten years of driving here, I've been involved in only one fender bender, leaving church one evening, and it was my fault. I did "get out of [my] car immediately" but not to shout but rather to apologize and perhaps pay damages. Fortunately, I had backed into a fellow churchgoer, a woman, who smiled and pointed to her beat-up old car and essentially said, "What's another scratch?"

I do follow Mr. Cho's other tips, though. I speed through yellow lights. At red lights, I also "inch forward and move through the pedestrian crossing, like a racing driver, preparing to make a jump start as soon as--sometimes even before--the light changes to green." I agree that the horn "is to be used to vent the driver's frustration and rage." To make a left turn, I confess that I "race ahead through a moving right-hand lane and cut in at the head of the queue."

I adapted quite quickly to Korea's aggressive driving culture, and have learned a lot from it. I believe I am a better driver. There is one growing trend over the past decade that bothers me, though: women drivers. More and more husbands are leaving the family car at home during the day for the missus to drive. (Koreans, to their credit, still have a family car and the vast majority of women don't work outside the home.) Korean women drivers tend to be passive and ultra-defensive, which throws into disorder the spontaneous order which once arose from Korean dog-eat-dog driving. More than once I've thought that Korea could learn something from Saudi licencing of drivers.

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Why Do Koreans Give Directions Like Women?

The above opinion, which I've long held, is supported by this article ─ There's a Men's Route And a Women's Route. The author reports, "Studies over the past decade have shown that women are likelier to rely on landmarks and visual cues, and men on maps, cardinal directions (such as north and south) and gauges of distance."

One of the most frustrating aspects of driving in Korea is that Korea is, literally, Where the Streets Have No Name. Street names are being introduced, but I doubt they'll catch on. (Intersections, in contrast, have names.) The main thoroughfares in major cities have names, but no addresses that anyone other than the mailmen knows. If someone directs you to a particular store, he says its on the road to X Hospital or Y Department Store or Z Intersection.

Cardinal directions are never used, and when I ask about them, I get a blank stare. Even words and phrases like "between" and "across the street from" are rarely used. One is given a landmark and expected to find what one is looking for in its vicinity. I've often wondered how many man-hours are lost per day nationally by folks looking for where they want to go.

Signs on city streets are almost meaningless to non-residents not familiar with the landmarks. Maps label route numbers for major city streets, but signs do not mention them. Country routes also have numbers, but few use them in speaking. I've never heard anyone speak of Route 7, which runs through Pohang. Rather, it is "the road to Gyeongju." From last year, there has been a sign that now announces it is also Asian Highway Six, leading to "China, Mongolia, Russian [sic], Kazakhstan, Turkey," ignoring the fact that the world's most militarized border prevents any driver from advancing more than five hours or so north of Pohang.

The article quotes Luc Tremblay, an assistant professor of physical education and health at the University of Toronto, with the following statement: "Women are more dependent on a surrounding frame. Men are capable of relying on another source of information alone." This "dependen[cy] on a surrounding frame" writ large is one of the themes of The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why by Richard E. Nisbett.

However, whereas Nisbett suggests a linguistic explanation ─ The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which holds that language not only influences but determines how we think ─ Tremblay suggests a biological explanation:
    While some scientists theorize that hormones account for navigational differences between the sexes, Tremblay thinks the answer may lie in the inner ear. There, a group of three semicircular canals -- which are usually larger in men than in women -- help track the body's motion, speed and direction. Men, in other words, get stronger internal directional cues, Tremblay speculates.
Interesting. I currently have an ear infection and found my sense of direction, which normally astonishes my in-laws, was not up to par today as I drove the mostly nameless streets of Daegu. Could studies of Korean inner ears provide some answers? Or could it be that the contextualization of East Asian language, culture, and thought are primarily responsible for the phenomenon described above?

[link via LewRockwell.com]

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Chimera Watch

This appalling news is indeed "a disastrous setback for human dignity in Britain" ─ HFEA Approves Human/Animal Cloned Embryos.

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Lee Myung-bak, the End of Korean Victimology?

"For a new, mature Seoul-Tokyo relationship, I don't want to ask them to apologize for, or examine themselves," pledges the president-elect ─ No More Demands for Apologies From Japan: Lee.

Good for him and good for Korea. Is this a sign that Korea is finally moving beyond the "our poor Korea" mode of viewing the world? I'm beginning to like Pohang's own Lee Myung-bak more and more.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Failed Persian Gulf of Tonkin Incident

Gareth Porter on how it was planned and executed ─ How the Pentagon planted a false story. An excerpt:
    The initial press stories on the incident, all of which can be traced to a briefing by deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in charge of media operations, Bryan Whitman, contained similar information that has since been repudiated by the navy itself.

    Then the navy disseminated a short video into which was spliced the audio of a phone call warning that US warships would "explode" in "a few seconds". Although it was ostensibly a navy production, Inter Press Service (IPS) has learned that the ultimate decision on its content was made by top officials of the Defense Department.

    The encounter between five small and apparently unarmed speedboats, each carrying a crew of two to four men, and the three US warships occurred very early on Saturday January 6, Washington time. No information was released to the public about the incident for more than 24 hours, indicating that it was not viewed initially as being very urgent.

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"Naked Street" Pioneer Dies

A conservative blog for peace alerts our attention to the passing of one of the good guys ─ Hans Monderman Has Died. From his obituary:
    Hans Monderman pioneered the concept of the “naked street” by removing all the things that were supposed to make it safe for the pedestrian - traffic lights, railings, kerbs and road markings. He thereby created a completely open and even surface on which motorists and pedestrians “negotiated” with each other by eye contact.
A quote of his: "If you treat drivers like idiots, they act as idiots. Never treat anyone in the public realm as an idiot, always assume they have intelligence."

Although left unnamed, Mr. Monderman was the inspiration for this article of mine, the LewRockwell.com of which I am proudest ─ Anarchy, or Spontaneous Order, on the Streets of Saigon.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Liturgy Precedes Scripture

Today, I started reading an absolutely captivating book, the last written by the late Jaroslav Pelikan, "one of the world's leading scholars in the history of Christianity and medieval intellectual history" ─ Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures.

Perhaps it is that a book written by an Orthodox convert from Lutheranism has a special appeal for this Catholic convert from Lutheranism. Or perhaps it is that his writing style is the type that appeals most to me, clear linear arguments with abundant tangential tidbits, e.g. "'Saint Socrates, pray for us!" Desiderius Erasmus is reported to have exclaimed." Whatever it is, I find the book almost impossible to put down, even while driving.


The first chapter ─ "The God Who Speaks" ─ is an examination of the primacy of the oral over the written not only in the Abrahamic traditions, but in that of all individuals and all societies as well. Most interesting ─ and edifying to Catholics and Orthodox ─ was this, on the fact that Jesus, like Socrates, never wrote anything first hand:
    ... the first words of Jesus ever to be written are a few formulaic words of the oral liturgical tradition: "This is my body, which is for you; do this in memory of me" and "This cup is the new covenant sealed by my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this in memory of me." Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper with these words, as they were quoted from that oral tradition by the apostle Paul writing to the Christian congregation at Corinth twenty years or so after the fact.
So, what was The Sacrifice of the Mass and The Divine Liturgy existed well before The New Testament. So much for Sola Scriptura. Said the Venerable John Henry Newman, "To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant."

There was also this:
    Writing in the fourth century, the Christian theologian Basil of Caesarea insisted that such pious actions as making the sign of the cross or facing East when praying, neither of them commanded in the Bible, were not simply popular customs which it was possible for believers to obey or to ignore at will, but unwritten traditions that had come down from the apostolic beginnings of Christianity and that were therefore of no lesser authority than the written apostolic traditions which were enshrined in the Bible.

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America Reaches Replacement Rate of 2.1 Babies Per Woman

Some good news for a change ─ Against the trend, U.S. births way up.

The article notes that "Hispanics... accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births" and also that "non-Hispanic white women and other racial and ethnic groups [except Asians] were having more babies, too." We'd better hear what the "experts" have to say: "Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty." More excerpts:
    There are cultural reasons as well. Hispanics as a group have higher fertility rates — about 40 percent higher than the U.S. overall. And experts say Americans, especially those in middle America, view children more favorably than people in many other Westernized countries.

    "Americans like children. We are the only people who respond to prosperity by saying, `Let's have another kid,'" said Nan Marie Astone, associate professor of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University.
This is interesting: "[W]hite American women have more children than white European — even though many nations in Europe have more family-friendly government policies on parental leave and child care."

And this is shameful, for Catholics: "The influence of certain religions in those latter regions is an important factor, said Ron Lesthaeghe, a Belgian demographer who is a visiting professor at the University of Michigan. 'Evangelical Protestantism and Mormons,' he said."

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The Founders' Foreign Policy

"We must embrace the slur and rise above it," Steven LaTulippe ─ Say It Loud: Isolationist-Proud! "There is not now, nor has there ever been, any such thing as “isolationism” in the history of American foreign policy," begins the author, explaining:
    In the lexicon of Wilsonian internationalists and neoconservative interventionists, isolationism was a ghastly policy from the prehistoric era of American politics. Isolationists, they warn, wished to quarantine America from trade and diplomatic relations with the outside world. If isolationists had their way, America would look like a scene from Deliverance, a land of strange, hump-backed mountain people with dragging knuckles and odd numbers of chromosomes.

    This is, of course, utter nonsense. This version of “isolationism” is a self-serving fabrication invented by interventionists to make minding our own business sound like an evil idea.

    America’s Founders were very specific about the foreign policy paradigm they believed America should embrace. George Washington’s farewell address, in which he warned his countrymen against foreign entanglements, is the most obvious example. John Quincy Adams’ famous speech about America not “going forth in search of monsters to destroy” is another.

    But America’s Founders were not ignorant xenophobes. They were erudite men with an intimate understanding of history, economics, and politics. Several of them, including Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, lived abroad, spoke several foreign languages, and made significant contributions to science and philosophy.

    Even as they strove to create a new nation, our Founders consciously tried to avoid the mistakes of the Old World. Europe was, in their view, a bubbling cauldron of dynastic intrigue, war, and repression.

    Being familiar with the history of militarism stretching back to the Roman Empire, the Founders also knew that standing armies and sprawling military-industrial complexes were incompatible with the survival of a free republic.
The Founders would be appalled by every man (I use the term inclusively) running for our country's highest office save one, Dr. Ron Paul.

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Much, Much Worse Than AIDS

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Ain't No Sunshine When Roh's Gone

There is hope that the failed Sunshine Policy will be one of the casualities of the upcoming transition of power in South Korea ─ Sundown for Seoul's Korean policy?

The president-elect has some other good ideas in the works ─ Lee to Scrap 5 Ministries.

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Being Pro-Life in Sài Gòn

Where "the number of abortions is greater than the number of births" ─ Hồ Chí Minh City Catholics against abortion.

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The Dear Leader's Fear

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In the Top Tier

It's time for some to bow out ─ Ron Paul Beats Fred and Rudy in Michigan. This bodes well for a third-party run in the event that the Good Doctor does not win the nomination, especially if the other party runs Hillary the Hawk.

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Nowhere Man

No respect ─ Gulf allies turn their backs on Bush. Why? "The Pentagon has admitted that the footage of the famous incident of January 6 when five speedboats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)'buzzed' three US Navy warships in the Strait of Hormuz could have been compromised."

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The Pope Turns His Back on the People

That's how some will read this fantastic news ─ Pope faces “ad orientem” in Sistine Chapel liturgy.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Galileo Canard Rears Its Ugly Head

"Scientists and students will protest a visit by Pope Benedict to an Italian university on Thursday because of his previously stated 'offensive' views on Galileo" ─ Scientists and students protest against Pope.

Spearheading the protests are "left-wing physics students – who call themselves Physics Collective." The "offensive" views on Galileo? "Cardinal Ratzinger had suggested the trial of Galileo for heresy, because of his support for the Copernican system, was justified in the context of the time."

For what really happened, read The Galileo Affair:
    The Victorian biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who had no brief for Catholicism, once examined the case and concluded that "the Church had the best of it." The most striking point about the whole affair is that until Galileo forced the issue into the realm of theology, the Church had been a willing ombudsman for the new astronomy. It had encouraged the work of Copernicus and sheltered Kepler against the persecutions of Calvinists. Problems only arose when the debate went beyond the mere question of celestial mechanics.
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), a.k.a. "Darwin's Bulldog," had set about to prove the Church an "enemy of science" but instead found himself shocked by what the truth.

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The Girl Who Never Was

A tragic tale of a twelve-year-old who was never given a chance ─ Woman arrested for child neglect.

Her mother had "hid the birth of her daughter when she was born in 1996 because she was worried that her husband would discover that she had an affair, and a baby." Subsequently "she did not register the birth of her daughter," meaning that "the child was unable to go to school and thus does not know how to read or write the Korean language" and "is ineligible for medical insurance." Most recently, she "was sexually abused by a man in his 40s."

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Don't Tase Me, Hyeongnim

Variations on the above being the obvious comment to this post at The Marmot's Hole, reporting that "[t]he Korean National Police is looking into using Tasers to subdue violent demonstrators" ─ Korean Police to Use Tasers?

I'd be very surprised if the lethal "non-lethal" weapon were allowed here. Korean cops routinely tolerate behavior that would get one Rodney King-ed backed in the Land of the Free™. One sees on television video clips of police in the station being kicked and pushed by drunks and rather than subduing the perpetartor, the police try their best to difuse the situation. On numerous occasions, I've seen (older) drivers verbally abusing (younger) policemen in pull-over situations. Wu wei seems to be the method of policing here.

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The Baby Boomers' Baby Bust

Rod Dreher offers a report that "many Boomers who raised typical two-child families, especially if they started late, will find that this investment is not enough to insure that even one child has the wherewithal to offer help or to take an active interest in their lives" ─ Will Boomers die alone and unloved?

And as "the other side of the Boomer childlessness story, Mr. Dreher links to a tragic story of infertility, the story of a couple "haunted by the ghosts of our beloved children who never were" ─ The agony of childlessness.

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Ron Paul Is Not Dead

Be sure to read this "absolute proof of Ron Paul's racism" ─ Ron Paul's Racism in Action.

Or you could listen to Nelson Linder, "who has known Ron Paul for 20 years" ─ NAACP President Defends Ron Paul Against "Recent Smear Attempts".

Shimshon Weisman, "an Orthodox Jew, living in Israel, in the dread 'occupied territories' no less" ─ The Loneliest Ron Paul Supporter.

Dr. Ralph Cinque says "there are plenty of reasons to vote for Ron Paul based on health alone" ─ The Health Argument for Ron Paul.

[link via LewRockwell.com and the LewRockwell.com Blog]

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A Call for Decentralization

Prof. Michael S. Rozeff, of my alma mater, argues that "the Union does not legally exist" and that we should "place dissolving the U.S.A. at the top of our political agenda" ─ On Dissolving the United States of America. An excerpt:
    What is the logical result of Union? Centralization of power and an increase in oppression and the likelihood of further oppression. If we do not think about dissolving the U.S.A. now, we will be thinking about it later when we, as did the citizens of the Soviet Union, begin to chafe and grumble at how bad things are. But why wait for those sad days that are nearing when Medicare and Social Security both fail, or when bombs are dropping on American cities, or when our roads develop even more potholes, or even more bridges collapse, or we find that our dollars are worthless? Why wait?

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Borrowing to Defend Our Lendors

Patrick J. Buchanan, noting that "Republicans, save Ron Paul, are all promising to expand the U.S. military and maintain all of our worldwide commitments to defend and subsidize scores of nations," details the economic costs of such a foolish foreign policy ─ Subprime Nation. Here, he hits the nail on the head:
    We are thus in the position of having to borrow from Europe to defend Europe, of having to borrow from China and Japan to defend Chinese and Japanese access to Gulf oil, and of having to borrow from Arab emirs, sultans and monarchs to make Iraq safe for democracy.

    We borrow from the nations we defend so that we may continue to defend them. To question this is an unpardonable heresy called “isolationism.”

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Lenin Raghavarshi, Pro-Life Communist Atheist

"At the basis of all human rights is the right to live," says the winner of the 2007 Gwangju prize for human rights ─ Indian communist atheist, supports the moratorium on abortion. A quote from the man:
    It is ridiculous and absurd to suggest that abortion is a solution to hunger, in order to control population growth. What’s more the concept - typical of UN organisations – that overpopulation represents the greatest danger to the health of a nation has no basis at all in reality….. In reality the world should urgently look at socio-economic and political issues to eliminate hunger, poverty, misery among people.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

On Holy Fools

Orthodox Deacon Steve Hayes gives us a must-read post on one of my favorite topics ─ Blessed are the foolish -- foolish are the blessed. An excerpt:
    In our age, "moron" is a term of abuse, as are similar terms like "loser", "cretin" and others. In a more faith-filled age (which the secularists might call "credulous and superstitious"), however, these were often terms of awe and respect. "Cretin" is derived from the French word "chretienne", meaning a Christian. An important part of being Christian is remembering that God chose the weak and foolish things of the world, and indeed chose to become weak and foolish himself, as unconvincing in appearance as the crucified.

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Bush Promises to Nuke Iran for Israel

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John Zmirak on Nationalism

In an informative post, he concludes "that conservative critics of Nationalism are largely right, but they need to make some distinctions and remember some events which complicate the picture" ─ On Bashing Nationalism.

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Kirkian Postmodernism

Mark Wegierski reviews o new book on the Sage of Mecosta ─ Postmodern, Not Hypermodern: Russell Kirk. An exceprt explaining the title:
    Among the most intellectually important aspects of Russello’s book is its distinction between “post-modern” and “hyper-modern” – a highly eclectic usage. The term “post-modern” or “postmodern” today usually signifies the piling onto Western societies of ever more extreme forms of social liberalism, to promote the allegedly unlimited plasticity of human life, society, and existence. Russello chooses instead to speak of the “hyper-modern,” accentuating the fact that most of the social, cultural, and intellectual excesses of the post-Sixties’ period emerge from the worst tendencies of modernity itself. According to traditionalist conservatives like Kirk, these tendencies can be boiled down fairly simply to the unceasing, unrelenting urge to tear down, to destroy, to deconstruct, to smash to bits, any notion of the normative, the decent, and the natural. The term “post-modern” as Russello uses it, implicitly recognizes that there are of course better aspects of modernity—such as the unquestionable benefits of science and technology, and the classical liberal freedoms, which cannot be discarded on the path to social and cultural renewal. Russello’s “post-modern” thinker acknowledges that society is indeed continuing to evolve, but must eventually begin to move to a new synthesis. What would that look like? Kirk’s writings, incisively distilled by Russello, offer some clues.

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A single death is a tragedy; 151,000 or 655,000 deaths is a statistic.

I got taken to task for citing the lower figure is a recent post by a reader who noted that I had cited the higher figure months ago ─ "What is one innocent human life worth?" and Pat Robertson, Peacenik? Interesting that neocons see this new figure as some kind of triumph. Andrew Cockburn has weighed in this new figure "estimating the number of Iraqis murdered, directly or indirectly, by George Bush and his willing executioners" ─ How the New England Journal of Medicine Undercounted Iraqi Civilian Deaths.

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Iksan City's Hwasan Parish and Others

This church, built in 1906, combining Gothic and Korean styles, is the most beautiful church I've ever seen in this country ─ 천주교익산화산(나바위)성당(요셉베르모레르신부).

These gems, from roughly the same period but of a purer Gothic style, aren't bad either ─ 한국의 성당건축(13)-김정신.

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Columbans in Korea

"To experience the Irish legacy to Korean Catholicism, you need to head to Chuncheon," says Robert Koehler in his latest photo-essay, documenting "two churches which have recently been registered as cultural properties by the Cultural Heritage Administration, Jungnim-dong Cathedral and Soyangno Catholic Church" ─ Chuncheon: Following the Irish Legacy in Korea.

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The Warfare State

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dr. Ron Paul's Campaign HQ Blog

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Snow in Seoul

During my ten years in Korea, I have never, ever, wanted to live in Seoul, until seeing these stunning photos ─ A Snowy Day in Bukchon.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Catholic Protests in Hanoi and Saigon

"Thousands of Catholics gathered yesterday evening in a prayer vigil at the Redemptorist convent, to ask the government to give back to the Church 15 acres of land belonging to the religious order, now occupied by government buildings" ─ Ho Chi Minh City, prayers and protests from the Catholics, the first since 1975. Here's more ─ Vietnam: city traffic blocked by Catholics' mass protest.

Our Lady of La Vang, ora pro nobis.

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The Grey Lady Reviews a History of the Neocons

"To be neoconservative is to bear almost daily witness to the resurrection of Adolf Hitler," begins this review of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons in an unlikely place ─ Fathers and Sons. An excerpt:
    There’s no point denying it: neocons tend to be Jewish. There are plenty of prominent exceptions — William Bennett, the former education secretary, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late United States senator, diplomat, White House aide and sociologist, were both Roman Catholics — but neoconservatism’s priorities, which range from strong support for Israel to vehement opposition to affirmative action, are heavily influenced by the values, interests and collective historical memory of the Jewish people.

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"Private Life in Stalin’s Russia"

"Everyday family life in Stalin's Russia was a torment," begins this review of a book with the above subtitle ─ The Whisperers. An interesting paragraph:
    As has often been pointed out, the difference between fascist societies and Communist ones has not so much to do with the brutality that underpins their ideologies but with the pervasiveness of their effect. In Nazi Germany many people led normal lives, going to work and keeping their heads below the parapet. In Soviet Russia there was no parapet to duck under: the ideology invaded the lives of everyone and there was no public/private distinction. For instance, the apartment blocks built during the period were deliberately designed to undermine family privacy and individuality. As the writer Nadezhda Mandelstam related in her memoirs, living space was so important that crimes would be committed for its sake. In communal apartments there could be 16 or more families sharing one small lavatory and kitchen. In 1928, the average Soviet city dweller had an average of 5.8 square metres of living space; by 1930, this was 5.5 metres; by 1940 it had slipped to 4 square metres. In this oppressive atmosphere whispering, so as not to be overheard by neighbours, became a way of life.

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"Well-dying"

A bizarre "new trend in South Korea" that I or my wife have never heard of, making me wonder how much of a "trend" it really is ─ Mock funerals give new life to S Koreans.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Hillary Is Self-Actualized

This is what one of America's foremost newsmagazine's publishes as political analysis ─ How Hillary Learned to Trust Herself. How lucky we are that "[s]he will, finally, trust her own instincts." And I'm sure you were as moved as I was when she told us, "I found my own voice." All this makes this forty-year-old book seem all the more timely ─ The Triumph of the Therapeutic.

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Dorothy Day, Beyond Ideology

Thomas Storck on "one of the authentic Catholic movements to have originated in the Church in this country," ... "a solid expression of traditional Catholicism, rooted not in any political ideology but in the spirituality and thought of the Church" ─ The Traditional Catholic Worker Movement. The second paragraph contains these words of wisdom:
    The first thing necessary in examining the Catholic Worker is to jettison the common notion that all ideas and movements can be placed in one of two categories: liberal or conservative. So far from the truth is this that the liberal/conservative prism, through which so many view the world, in fact distorts the world and forces us to distort people's ideas and actions to conform to this shallow way of looking at things.

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"Immoral... Unjust... Unconstitutional"

Writing for InsideCatholic.com, half-century Republican activist Christopher Manion on the war ─ Bring the Troops Home.

[link via LewRockwell.com]

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First the Intelligence Community and Now the Armed Forces

"Did the naval commanders deliberately rob their Commander-in-Chief of a timely stick to beat the Iranians with?" ─ Is Bush Losing Control of the Military?

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A Much-Needed Fatwa

In the wake of the attacks on the Chaldean cathedral and Syro-Orthodox Church of Mar Ephrem ─ Imam of Kirkuk: attacks against Christians are “against Islam”.

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"What is one innocent human life worth?"

"I would not want to be Mr. Bush on the day of Judgement," says Stephen Hand. "Pray for him" ─ World Health Organization: More Than 150,000 Civilian Deaths in Iraq.

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Green Korea?

EnergyBulletin.net links to this article by John Feffer, co-director of foreign policy in focus at Institute for Policy Studies in Washingtonon, on the president-elect Lee Myung-bak's "personal green revolution" and his "eco-credentials" ─ A Green Bulldozer?

Jung-Hoon Han and Emanuel Pastreich see their city as the Curitiba of the East ─ Daejeon: Environmental Capital of Asia. I'm all for local solutions like these.

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Herman Melville, Prophet?

If you've read Moby Dick, you might agree that Kaveh L Afrasiabi's is spot-on ─ Captain Ahab and the Islamic whale. I pray the final scene doesn't play out:
    For an instant, the tranced boat's crew stood still; then turned. "The ship? Great God, where is the ship?" Soon they through dim, bewildering mediums saw her sidelong fading phantom, as in the gaseous Fata Morgana; only the uppermost masts out of water; while fixed by infatuation, or fidelity, or fate, to their once lofty perches, the pagan harpooneers still maintained their sinking lookouts on the sea. And now, concentric circles seized the lone boat itself, and all its crew, and each floating oar, and every lance-pole, and spinning, animate and inanimate, all round and round in one vortex, carried the smallest chip of the Pequod out of sight.

    But as the last whelmings intermixingly poured themselves over the sunken head of the Indian at the mainmast, leaving a few inches of the erect spar yet visible, together with long streaming yards of the flag, which calmly undulated, with ironical coincidings, over the destroying billows they almost touched; - at that instant, a red arm and a hammer hovered backwardly uplifted in the open air, in the act of nailing the flag faster and yet faster to the subsiding spar. A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Tashtego there; this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it.

    Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.