Friday, February 29, 2008

Hindsight

A reprint from Dave Koehler from February 28, 2003 on "some of the empty arguments given by the current administration as a pretext for war" ─ Fallacies and War: Misleading a Nervous America to the Wrong Conclusion.

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Presidential Race Round-up

I'm troubled less by the anti-Catholicism than I am by the Christian Zionism ─ McCain embraces bigoted Pastor Hagee. Bill Donohue drops even lower in my opinion with this reaction: "There are plenty of staunch evangelical leaders who are pro-Israel, but are not anti-Catholic." I mean, as evangelicals, shouldn't they be somewhat anti-Catholic?

Never count the Clintons out, but it appears that she's blown it ─ Clinton’s Cringe-Worthy Moment. She sounded like a whiney schoolgirl, which is not how to become the first woman president.

"Obama will not 'rule out' using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq" ─ Obama’s Mercenary Position. And he shows more of his interventionist colors in this speech ─ October 2002 Speech: Against Going to War With Iraq. Citing the War of Northen Aggression and our alliance with Stalin, he said, "I don’t oppose all wars." (Neither do, only offensive ones, even if fought for a "good" cause.)

A self-described "fundamentalist Christian Conservative" on "one of the few people ever born in America who deserves to wear the badge of 'Great American'" ─ Bunk to Ralph Nader's critics!

"Rid us of this militarism and corporatism and make life a little bit easier for us all whether we are gay or straight, black, brown, white and whether our original homes are within these borders or elsewhere," is a call I can agree with, although I might disagree with some of the specifics ─ Why Dennis Kucinich Still Matters.

Stop the presses! A candidate with something to say ─ Congressman Ron Paul Speaks on “Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy”.

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Empire is the Issue

"Domestic issues are important, but the U.S. government's policy of promiscuous intervention, its foolish determination to insert itself in the middle of endless controversies around the globe, is what brought the horror of 9/11 upon the American heartland," says Doug Bandow ─ Make America's Policy of Promiscuous Intervention the Issue in November.

Not only that, but this "promiscuous intervention" is bankrupting us, corrupting us, and threatening our very existence.

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Kim Jong-chul, "The Rockin' Leader"

As I noted in a post a few days ago, the "[f]irst son from the Dear Leader’s fourth marriage" is a fan of the rock guitarist; this article states what that means ─ Clapton invitation means Kim Jong-il has chosen his heir. From the article:
    According to some analysts the Clapton invitation is clearest signal possible. The North Korea Daily, an online paper that closely monitors events in the country, wrote that if Jong-nam had been chosen his father would have invited Euro Disney characters. In 2001, Kim Jong-nam was caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport, apparently to visit Tokyo Disney Land, raising his father’s ire. Clapton’s coming could by contrast mean that the country’s future lies with Jong-chul.

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The Politically Correct One-Drop Rule

Ironic that "a sketch satirizing the supposedly cushy treatment his candidacy has received from the media," rather than the candidate's record or his policies, should receive this kind of attention from our capital's paper of record─ Did 'SNL' Go Beyond the Pale With Fauxbama?

The controversy: "Is Fred Armisen, who is not African American, 'black enough' to embody Obama on 'Saturday Night Live'?" Would a black actor be "white enough" to play the biracial Obama? Would a half-Ugandan not be half-Kenyan enough, or a half-Kikuyu not half-Luo enough, or a half-Nebraskan not half-Kansan enough?

This PC-version of the one-drop rule is as absurd as the insistence that fokls once called "colored people" now be called "people of color."

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State Intervention in the Family ─ From the Reformation to the Khmer Rouge

    The struggle that took place from the Reformation to the nineteenth century clearly established the principle that the new master power beyond the family was to be the state. Thus the same general process that took place in Greece and Rome has been repeated in Western society. From the laws of Solon (639 b.c.) through the reforms of the sixth and fifth centuries, the state in Greece took over more and more of the social control formerly dominated by familism and religion. Roman history followed the same course. If we view the meaning of its changes, we see that Western society has undergone an almost identical process.
The beginning of an excerpt from Family and Civilization, 1947, by Carle C. Zimmerman ─ The Nineteenth Century and the Rise of the Atomistic Family (part 1).

And from this report that two "kingpins in the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, 82-year-old Ieng Sary and his wife Khieu Thirith, 75, now bide their time in detention awaiting trial for crimes against humanity... [are] in separate cells [and] ha[ve] requested conjugal visits" ─ Cell swingers in Cambodia:
    To add irony to insult, Sary and Thirith, who was the Khmer Rouge's social affairs minister, both worked setting policy for the Khmer Rouge, a significant plank of which was to dismantle the traditional family structure. Husbands, wives and children were separated into separate gender-based work collectives. Marriages were routinely forced on individuals simply for reproduction to support a productive workforce.

    Kalyanee Mam wrote in The Endurance of the Cambodian Family Under the Khmer Rouge Regime: An Oral History that "Marriages were usually forced upon individuals for reproductive purposes only, since most couples who were married were soon after separated from each other and rarely met afterwards. After reproduction was achieved, it was not important for couples to remain together, since their time and energy were required on the work field."

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1%

Having "one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison" is something of which to be ashamed ─ New High In U.S. Prison Numbers. The report states that "nonviolent criminals... make up about half of the incarcerated population." Why do we throw non-violent people thrown into prison, an institution defined by its violence, both official an unofficial?

"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," as some have pointed out, was meant to limit retribution, introducing the idea of reciprocal justice. A victim of assualt could not call for the death penalty, for example. Our Lord took the idea further with His call for forgiveness and love. Of course, this does not mean that a society should let the violent roam free. But the non-violent?

Who was it who said that one could judge a country by the condition of its prisons? One can also judge a country by the people it imprisons.

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Hanpig2002 in Ulsan

That photo-chronicler of Korean Catholic church architecture, hanpig2000님의 블로그, has visited my wife's hometown, where I resided for my first three years in country. I've been to English Mass, which in Korea usually means praise and worship in Tagalog with electric guitars, at this utterly nondescript parish ─ 천주교울산호계성당. This parish, which I drive by everytime I visit the in-laws but have never entered, has some decent stained-glass ─ 천주교울산호계성당.

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I'm Pretty Close to Being a Centrist


"One of those political square/diamond/compass tests" linked to by A conservative blog for peace, with my results above ─ The Political Compass - Test.

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God Save the Prince

Say what you will about the Global War on Terror™, this highlights the difference between England's royal family and our American one(s) ─ Britain's Prince Harry in Afghanistan. Granted, the Bush Dynasty has failed to produce a male heir, and the military is no place for women, but if this is the civilizational struggle our dear leader makes it out to be, should not Jenna and her sister serve in some other capacity?

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19th Century Korean Flags

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

If Thy Television Eye Offend Thee, Pluck it Out

Tea at Trianon recently reported a on a study that found "it is not what is on television that is bad, it is not the content that is damaging; it is the mere act of watching television that is harmful" ─ Turn It Off. It turns out that "television is a form of hypnosis."

The most momentous event in my family life in 2007 was the removal of our televsion from the living room. Ironically it was my wife, the biggest television watcher of the family, who suggested the move. Where the television once sat we have plants. Our living room is now truly "living" and our family life has improved dramatically for it.

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A Surge in American Money Thrown Down the Iraqi Drain

Remember when "conservatives" used to deride "liberals" for trying to solve a problem by throwing money at it? (I use scare quotes because our current American political taxonomy is more meaningless than ever.) Well, about a week ago, Paul Craig Roberts, the "Father of Reagonomics," described how "[t]he Bush regime is paying Sunni insurgents $800,000 a day not to attack U.S. forces" ─ Paying Insurgents Not to Fight.

In linking to "a so-depressing-it's-funny article written by Nir Rosen in Iraq," Steve Sailer says "[t]he whole situation makes Catch 22 sound like Euclid's Elements" ─ "Concerned Local Citizens". Mr. Sailer sums up the situation:
    John McCain is running on a strategy of Winning in Iraq, but nobody seems to know whose side we are on these days. We started out being on the side of the guys who are most closely associated with Iran. Lately, we've been on both sides at once. But nobody seems to be on our side.
Well, at least the Chinese are still willing to lend to us for this noble endeavor:

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LewRockwell.com and the Dignity of Man

Here is quoted Anthony Gregory in full from a recent post ─ Racism and Liberalism:
    I always got the impression from LRC that, where it counts, it's one of the few libertarian sites to really celebrate the dignity of mankind — all mankind, all its peoples, from all nations, religions and ethnicities. Not with stupid multicultural egalitarianism, but actual respect. It's not overbearing, but subtle in just the right, respectful way. This comes through most often, I think, when you take note of other cultures by linking to fascinating articles about archeology, world history, etc. In particular, LRC has emerged as one of the best, most anti-Sinophobe sites on the net, which is becoming increasingly important, what with the paleocons, neocons, and theocons all picking on China (along with the anti-Wal Mart left).

    The fact that the overbearing PC types and white nationalists both find LRC unsatisfactory is a good sign. Too bad for the forced integrationists and forced segregationists alike that, when people have the freedom, the world is a little more interesting, and truly diverse, than either black and white, or a statistically contrived mixture of the two.
I've gotten that same impression, which is why I love the site. As an example example, he linked to this wonderful and mouthwatering article two days ago ─ Namibia, the land of meat lovers. However, while I am a Sinophile rather than a Sinophobe, I tend to side with the "paleocons" and the "anti-Wal Mart left" ─ The High Cost of Low Prices.

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Catholic Davids vs. Goliath Samsung

Korea's Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice isn't giving up in its "allegations that Samsung was involved in creating slush funds used to lobby influential people" ─ Independent counsel criticized again for wavering on Samsung investigation.

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The Reactionary Utopian on the American Lenin

Joseph Sobran is back ─ Lincoln and His Legacy. The first few paragraphs:
    At this point it is probably futile to try to reverse the deification of Abraham Lincoln. Next year, if I know my countrymen, the bicentennial of his birth will be marked by stupendously cloying anniversary observances, all of them affirming, if not his literal divinity, at least something mighty close to it.

    No doubt we will hear from the high priests and priestesses of the Lincoln cult: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Garry Wills, Harry V. Jaffa, and all the rest of the tireless hagiographers of academia, who regularly rate Honest Abe one of our two greatest presidents, right up there with Stalin’s buddy Franklin D. Roosevelt, father of the nuclear age and defiler of the U.S. Constitution. Such, we are told, is the Verdict of History.

    But if Lincoln was so great, we must ask why nobody seems to have realized it while he was still alive. The abolitionists considered him unprincipled, Southerners hated him, and most Northerners opposed his war on the South. Only when the war ended and he was shot did people begin to transform him into a hero and martyr of the Union cause. But that cause was badly flawed.

    The Declaration of Independence, which Lincoln always quoted selectively, says that the American colonies of Great Britain had become “free and independent states” — separate states, mind you, not the monolithic “new nation” he proclaimed at Gettysburg. The U.S. Constitution refers constantly to the states, but never to a “nation”; and this is a fact we should ponder.

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Pro-Death Obama

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Not Just an Asian Thing Anymore

A report that "more North American women are using inexpensive genetic tests to determine the sex of their children before birth," which "are often a precursor to abortion" ─ Death of a Taboo: Acceptance of Sex-Selective Abortion Growing.

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Nightsoil

"Fertilizer shortages caused by the depletion of nonrenewable feedstocks are a significant worry in the wake of peak oil," says John Michael Greer, offering "a simple solution" ─ In the dark with both hands. In a monumental book published in 1911, an American agronomist found this same solution to have been the key sustainable agriculture in this part of the world ─ Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan.

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The Almighty Euro

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Siblings in China?

Some good news ─ China may scrap one-child policy. It is tempered by the fact that Beijing "will not do away with family-planning policies altogether." The reasons are purely utilitarian, citing the "looming social time-bomb from an ageing population and widening gender disparity stemming from a traditional preference for boys."

UPDATE: One-child policy misinformation being planted in Western media, warns SPUC.

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Requiescat in Pace, Mr. Buckley

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eisWilliam F. Buckley Jr., 1925-2008. To be honest, I've never given the man much thought. Perhaps he taught some of the people who've taught me. My one Buckleyan memory is getting into a heated political argument with a girl at whose college he gave the commencement address.

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Here's to the State of Mississippi!

Folksinger Phil Ochs, like so many of his fellow travellers on the American Far Left, was right about many issues and wrong about many, many others. They tend to right about war and empire, but forget that interventionism begins at home, as Mr. Ochs did in Here's to the State of Mississippi, with its hateful chorus of "Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of, Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of." (I believe Mississippi did just that in the 1860s and was brutally crushed by The American Lenin.)

I'm not neutral. I grew up in Western New York with my Granny from Mississippi living with us in our three-generation house. It was she who catechized me with the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and also entertained me with stories of Water Moccasins and other such things not readily found in the suburbs of Buffalo. The Baptists excommunicated her, either for smoking cornsilks or for dancing ─ I can't remember ─ and she became a Methodist, the ecclesial community into which I was baptized.

She grew up poor, side by side with blacks, unlike those of in the "integrated" North. One of her earliest memories was of the injustice of her father not allowing her to play with her black friends when she reached age 13. Later, she welcomed my black uncle, her daughter's husband, into our family. Her vision was the one Tanya Tucker sang in I Believe the South Is Gonna Rise Again:
    Our neighbors in the big house called us redneck
    Cause we lived in a poor sharecropper shack
    The Jackson's down the road were poor like we were
    But our skin was white and their was black
    But I believe the south is gonna rise again
    But not the way we thought it would back then
    I mean everybody hand in hand I believe the south is gonna rise again.
Sadly, I've never visited the state fellow Western New Yorker Bill Kauffman rightly called "the economically poorest yet culturally richest state in the union" in his Introduction to "Look Homeward, America". The passage in it entirety:
    We drove into this lovely town of antebellum mansions and magnoliafragrant avenues, stopping at a local eatery. I am a hopeful romantic and expected to find vatic old black men whittling on benches, laconic loafers drawling wittily on courthouse steps, and tomboyish Nelle Harper Lee hiding in the bushes, taking it all down. Eh, not quite, Bill. The first Columbian we encountered was a sullen youth from Teenage Central Casting, playing the usual corporate schlock on his boombox. We entered the diner and were seated behind four ladies with mellifluous Mississippi accents. They spent the next half-hour recounting the plot of the previous night’s episode of Friends, that vulgar and witless NBC sitcom by which archeologists will someday condemn our civilization. I wanted to confront them, plead with them: Look. Here you are, citizens of the economically poorest yet culturally richest state in the union, the state that gave us Eudora Welty, the Delta Blues, William Faulkner, Muddy Waters, Shelby Foote, and yet you not only consume but crave the packaged products of cocaine-addled East/West Coast greedheads who despise you as ignorant rednecks and stupid crackers. Get off your knees, Mississippi!
An example of that cultural richness ─ Mississippi John Hurt - You got to walk that lonesome valley.

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Ron Paul and Ralph Nader

"Ralph is an economic leftist, but so are Obama and Hillary (and McKeynesian, for that matter)," said Lew Rockwell a few days ago ─ Ralph Nader. "But he is great on war and empire."

"Ron Paul supporters aren't ignoring you by accident sir," says Gary Wood, "they simply can never embrace you as you are not a defender of the Constitution so precious to most of us" ─ Ron Paul Supporters Ignore Ralph Nader.

(Mr. Wood links to the candidate's Twelve Issues that Matter for 2008. I find myself agreeing with most of them.)

In the strange bedfellows tradition I so enjoy, a suggestion that "[Nader] could have been Ron Paul's perfect running mate" ─ Ralph Nader Could Have Been Ron Paul's Ying [sic].

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Papal Vestments


Damian Thompson has some happy news that the Pope's "brand new red and gold silk baroque vestments bearing the heraldic motifs of Leo X" are "pre-Tridentine, let alone pre-Vatican II" ─ Pope's new look: pre-Tridentine baroque. Says the author, "Liberals will be aghast: in most English cathedrals, it is de rigueur to wear minimalist robes that look like they were left over from a Jon Pertwee-era episode of Doctor Who."

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What Ron Paul Has Done for America

"Best of all, Paul has gotten such seemingly antique notions as limited constitutional government, sound money, and the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers unprecedented exposure on the Internet and even in the mainstream media," says W. James Antle III ─ The Revolution and the Republican Party.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

McTeddy

"Will Americans embrace 'the strenuous life'?" asks Justin Raimondo ─ McCain, Militarism, and the Legacy of Teddy Roosevelt. This sickening quote from the de facto 2008 Republican nominee guarantees that he will not get my vote:
    Theodore Roosevelt is one of my greatest political heroes. The 'strenuous life' was T.R.'s definition of Americanism, a celebration of America's pioneer ethos, the virtues that had won the West and inspired our belief in ourselves as the New Jerusalem, bound by sacred duty to suffer hardship and risk danger to protect the values of our civilization and impart them to humanity. 'We cannot sit huddled within our borders,' he warned, 'and avow ourselves merely an assemblage of well-to-do hucksters who care nothing for what happens beyond.

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"The Collapse of Western Civilization"

Dmitry Orlov outlines what it might look like ─ The five stages of collapse.

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Ancient Cultures of Death

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman has a disturbing report ─ Commentary: Barbaric Tribal Practices Open Window to Dark Future of Infanticide and Euthanasia. Some details:
    We meet a beautiful child named Amalé, who was unfortunate enough to be born to an unwed mother who was a member of the Kamiurá tribe in Brazil. The Kamiurá tribe has a simple, iron rule: children of unwed mothers are to be buried alive, by their own mothers. And so, he was.

    Amalé, however, was fortunate enough to have an aunt who is not a member of the death cult that is becoming so popular among the Western cultural elite. She had the audacity to rescue her nephew and flee with him to Brasilia, Brazil's capital, where a charitable organization run by Protestants, and supported by Catholics, cares for victims of such "traditional practices."

    But Amalé is one of the fortunate few to survive the murderous customs of Brazilian indigenous societies. Three other babies whom Amalé's aunt tried to rescue were killed after she was caught with them. Amalé escaped because he was too weak to cry until he was out of harm's reach.

    According to Marques, hundreds of babies are murdered every year in Brazil for similar "offenses." Perhaps they are born crippled, or with some sort of disease. Or perhaps they are simply twins, or have a birth mark, or are born out of wedlock. They are buried alive, strangled, hung, and even hacked to death with machetes.
Similar disregard for human life existed even in advanced civilizations (indeed, as it does in our own), as evidenced by "a 3,600-year-old adobe frieze — six feet tall — depicting the iconic image of a human sacrificer 'standing with open arms, holding a ritual knife in one hand and a human head in the other'" ─ Ancient ceremonial plaza found in Peru.

One of the books I read as a student in Chile has as its title El imperio socialista de los Incas. It seems that in human history, more often than not, when attempts are made at some sort of "socialization" in which the whole matters more than its individual parts, people end up being sacrificed.

The good news that should not go unreported is that the descendants of the cultures described above do not want to go back ─ Peruvians Decry Protocol on Legality of Abortion and Brazilian lawmakers and leaders sign pro-life manifesto.

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A Letter from Yorkshire

"Pride in one's own town, county and region is no bad thing -- provided it does not tip over into enmity of those unlucky enough not to live in your area," says Peter Hinchliffe ─ Is There One England, or Two?

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Lee's Big Ditch

Patricia Hess offers a very informative article on the new South Korean president's plan to dig a canal from Seoul to Pusan ─ Circumcising Korea: A True/False Debate. I grew up near The Erie Canal, called "Clinton's Big Ditch" when it was proposed, after then-governor of New York, and I'm baffled by the idea, all the more so by the fact that it is a "conservative" who is behind it.

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Here Come the "Obama Republicans"

Melvyn Krauss, "a 'foot soldier' in the Reagan Revolution," on why he "do[es]n't intend to vote Republican this November" ─ Conservatives for Obama. Some excerpts:
    Meritocracy is at the core of American conservative beliefs. So let's face it: George W. Bush has been the worst U.S. president in memory. His administration has been inept, corrupt, and without accomplishment. After this performance, why give the Republicans another turn at the helm?

    Let's give the other party a chance, even if its policies are not exactly what conservatives may like. In America, we call it "throwing the bums out."

    [....]

    Hope always sells well in America. Reagan understood that, and it is one of the reasons he was a great and beloved president, even if some of his policies were flawed. As Hillary Clinton, Obama's rapidly fading rival for the Democratic nomination is finding out to her dismay, policies can be an overrated commodity in presidential elections that really matter.

    The hope that Obama is holding out for Americans is one of reconciliation -- racial, political, between the wealthy and the poor, and between America and its allies. This is powerful stuff, and dwarfs the narrow technocratic instincts of Mrs. Clinton, whose schoolgirl approach to the campaign has justly earned her defeat after defeat in the primaries.

    Just as Reagan had his "Reagan Democrats" who were attracted by his message of hope after the malaise of the Jimmy Carter years, Obama will have his "Obama Republicans," attracted by the hope of national reconciliation and healing.

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Reviews of the NY Phil in the DPRK

Various American and South Korean reports on last night's concert ─ In North Korea, Breaking a Barrier With Sound, U.S. Anthem Gets Orchestral Airing in Pyongyang, , N.Y. Phil Makes Sweet Music, History in N. Korea, NY Phil’s Performance Can Thaw U.S.-N. Korea Relations, ‘Americans in Pyongyang’, New York Philharmonic Performs Arirang in Pyongyang, NY Phil's Milestone Concert Opens in P'yang.

However, I found most intereting this one from Daily NK - The Hub of North Korean News, an online resource run by defectors hoping to highlight the plight of their homeland ─ Hope New York Philharmonic's Performance Is a Nice Little Present for North Korean People. The analysis of the concert:
    In North Korea, only few people can enjoy classical music. Most members of North Korean orchestras such as the Chosun National Symphony Orchestra or Yun I Sang Orchestra studied music abroad at a young age, and have a high level of performance skills.

    In fact, classical music is not included in the curriculum of North Korean middle and high school. Therefore, not many people would likely have enjoyed the radio broadcast of the Philharmonic concert. Some argue that North Korea is just pretending to open its door and the world is serving as a foil for the country.

    Nevertheless, there must be those who wholeheartedly yearn for freedom of music in North Korea and the Philharmonic concert must have awakened their passion for music.

    Inspiration from music would not directly lead to a fundamental change in North Korea. As long as the Philharmonic concert was able to touch the hearts of Pyongyang citizens, however, it would will be appreciated as a successful performance.
While to a certain extent it must be true that the concert "serv[ed] as a foil for the country," for the reasons outlined above, I think it was a good thing.

UPDATE: Commenter Jason Choi of KoreanCatholic has sent along some video links ─ New York Philharmonic Plays An American in Paris in DPRK North Korea, New York Philharmonic Plays Overture to Candide in DPRK North Korea, New York Philharmonic Plays Arirang in DPRK North Korea. Do play the last one.

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Why Does the Eco-Left Hate Country Music?

"Environmentalists might be a lot more effective if they listened to more country music--and especially if they listened more often to country music listeners," says Rebecca Solnit ─ One Nation Under Elvis. She begins by describing a scene in which she and some Canadian environmentalists visited "a logging town in the far northeast corner of British Columbia consisting of a raw row of buildings on either side of the highway to Alaska:"
    We were celebrating two weeks of rafting down the central river in that ungulate- and predator-rich paradise at the outpost’s big honky-tonkish nightclub, where the DJ kept playing country songs, to which all the locals would loop around gracefully, clasped together. But my compadres kept making faces of disgust at the music and asking the DJ to put on something else. He’d oblige with reggae, mostly, and we’d wave our limbs vaguely, dancing solo and free-form as white people have danced to rock-and-roll since the mid-1960s. Everyone else would sit down to wait this other music out. It was not a great movement-building exercise. How far were you going to get with a community when you couldn’t stand their music or even be diplomatic about it?
The way they danced pretty much says it all: (real) communitarian locals "loop[ing] around gracefully, clasped together" and atomized outsiders "dancing solo and free-form." In addition to a description of the author's "own conversion to country music," of which she rightly says its "current listening territory includes much of the English-speaking world," the rest of the article explores why the Left "despises the people and places that spawned the music, and what larger rifts his attitude reveals." Fascinating stuff.

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Noam Chomsky in Asia Times Online

Say what you will about the man called "America's most useful citizen" by the Boston Globe and "voted world's top public intellectual" by readers of the Guardian, his editorials are hard to come by in major American newspapers, although some local papers ─ God bless 'em ─ do carry them. (The book Interventions is a collection of his editorials from 2002 to 2007.) Well, he can be read in Asia Times Online, one of the finest publications out there in this blogger's opinion. Here's his latest ─ 'The world' according to Washington.

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The Traditionalism of Easy Rider

After several years, I rewatched Easy Rider (1969), or at least the first half of it, last night. I particularly like the scene about which Bill Kauffman said the following, quoted in the post immediately below this one: "The only characters that are depicted as unqualifiably virtuous are the homesteading family, living on their own acreage, raising their own food, teaching their own young." That scene:
    RANCHER (Warren Finnerty): You fellows can sit down here... (To BILLY (Dennis Hopper)) Would you mind taking off your hat? ... We thank thee, Lord, for these thy gifts received from thy bounty. In the name of Thy only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen... Where you fellows from?

    WYATT (Peter Fonda): L.A.

    RANCHER: L.A.?

    WYATT: Los Angeles.

    RANCHER: Los Angeles... Is that a fact? When I was a young man, I was headed for California, but... Well, you know how it is.

    WYATT: You sure got a nice spread here.

    RANCHER: Yeah, I sure got a lot of them. (Looking at his many children) My wife is Catholic, you know? (To his wife (Tita Colorado)) Can we have some more coffee?

    WYATT: No, I mean it. You've got a nice place. It's not every man that can live off the land, you know? Can do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud.
The scene is a great depiction of Christian hospitality, in which a humble rancher invites to a meal two strangers, and strange ─ nay, outlandish! ─ ones at that. Perhaps some hepcats viewing the film when it was released scoffed at the rancher for not knowing the modernist abbreviation for the city founded as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula, but I think Mr. Hopper meant to underscore the virtue of having had no need for all the modernist tomfoolery the letters "L.A." represent. Perhaps that interpretation is bolstered by this later scene:
    BILLY: Where are you from, man?

    STRANGER ON THE HIGHWAY (Luke Askew): Hard to say.

    BILLY: Hard to say? Where are you from, man?

    STRANGER: It's hard to say because it's a very long word, you know?

    BILLY: I just want to know where you're from.

    STRANGER: The city.

    BILLY: From a city?

    STRANGER: Doesn't matter what city. They're all alike.
And this prayer uttered at the hippie commune, enough to put most of us "organized" Christians to shame, brings to mind the Southern Agrarians:
    We have planted our seeds. We ask... that our efforts be worthy... to produce simple food... for our simple taste. We ask that our efforts... be rewarded. We thank You for the food we eat from other hands... that we may share it with our fellow man... and be even more generous... when it is from our own. Thank You for a place... to make a stand. Amen.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Reactionary Film

As I'm about to re-watch one of the classics, Easy Rider (1969), I'll repost a passage on the film from Bill Kauffman's Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals:
    I don't really have to convince you that Easy Rider is a reactionary picture, do I? The only characters that are depicted as unqualifiably virtuous are the homesteading family, living on their own acreage, raising their own food, teaching their own young... The only American Dream worth the snores is based in liberty and a community- (or family-) oriented independence, which the filmakers associate with the country's founders. Dennis Hopper (an admittedly unorthodox Kansas Reoublican) and Peter Fonda (a gun-loving libertarian) did not make a movie glorifying tripping hippies and condemning the southern gun culture; rather, as an exasperated Fonda explained, "My movie is about the lack of freedom. My heroes are not right, they're wrong. Liberty's become a whore, and we're all taking the easy ride."

    I go on about what I am sure is now a ludicrously unfashionable movie because Easy Rider was groping toward a truth that might have set America free. The hippies and the small-town southerners gathered in the diner; the small farmers and the shaggy communards: they were on the same side. The side of liberty, of locally based community, of independence from the war machine, the welfare state, the bureaucratic prison whose wardens were McNamara, Rockefeller, Bundy, and the wise men and wealthy men who had never grasped Paul Goodman's point─or perhaps they had grasped it all too well, and wrestled it into submission─that "[i]t is only the anarchists who are really conservative, for they want to conserve sun and space, animal nature, primary community, experimenting inquiry."

    It is only the anarchists who are really conservative.
A documentary on the film:

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"Kosovo"

Nikolas Gvosdev, editor of The National Interest, offers some analysis ─ Kosovo, Russia, and the Last Grasps of American Unipolarity.

As does Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term ─ Kosovo and the Empire Crazies.

And an anonymous reader of this blog does as well:
    The Kosovo Albanians enjoyed virtually all the rights of an independent state except for the right to sell the mineral resources in the Kosovo. What does that tell you?

    Could it be that it was in their intere$t$, and those of their backer$ to declare independence rather that settle their differences because of these resources.

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Decadent Reactionary Bourgeois Music in the Worker's Paradise

First this ─ New York Philharmonic Arrives in Pyongyang. Now this ─ Eric Clapton to Perform in NK*. What's next, The Dresden Dolls?

*The Dear Leader's son is said to be a fan.

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Hillary Highlights the Hussein in Barack Hussein Obama

This is a pathetic attempt by a desperate woman ─ Obama photo in turban, robe causes stir.

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The New Face of the People's Liberation Army?


I oppose women in the military ─ heck, I oppose standing armies ─ but I couldn't resist posting the above photo ─ 중국여군.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Dr. Mao's Tao of Tea

From Dr. Mao's Secrets of Longevity comes this bit of wisdom ─ Tea: The Elixir of Life. I've been drinking more tea with Lent, my favorite green, black, and herbal varieties being Pu-Er Tea, Assam Tea, and Chamomile Tea respectively. If only I could still find Yerba Mate here! (I became a matero as a student in Chile.) Speaking of health and tea, Tea at Trianon is one of the healthiest blogs around.

[link via Metanoia]

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Muslim Creationists

Marked for his hostility towards both creationism and Islam, Catholic journalist Damian Thompson is doubly upset ─ UCL’s platform for extreme Creationists. While I see Harun Yahya and Islamic Creationism as provisonal allies, I have to credit Mr. Thompson's valid point about liberals:
    Guardian and Independent readers are comfortable with the notion that Creationism is the preserve of swivel-eyed American fundamentalist Christians. They are much less comfortable with the reality that Islam is the main engine of Creationism in the world today.

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Pray for Obama

"Lots of people worry that an assassin is lying in wait for Barack Obama," begins Crunchy Con Rod Dreher ─ The fear around Obama. He continues:
    They are right to worry, I'm sorry to say. If some nut shoots him, aside from the personal horror, it would be a worse blow to the country than 9/11, I think. The 9/11 attacks brought us together as a country; an Obama assasination would tear us apart.

    I hate even to bring it up, but people are talking about it, and it's a real threat. A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail at the paper from some random racist who spoke about a nonspecific violent end for Obama; I forwarded it to federal authorities, and ended up talking to an agent about it.
He contunues with a description of the lax security at an Obama rally he covered: "I mean, this is Dallas, with all the historical weight that holds, and still, I was able to walk into Reunion Arena without being searched, even minimally."

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Must-Read Comparison of Vietnam and Iraq

John Médaille contrasts the two wars in this excerpt from his latest entry ─ Casualties of War:
    Everybody likes to say that they support the war; few actually do. I recall my own service in Vietnam. In the popular myth, the public turned against both the war and the soldiers who fought it, but I had no experience like that. Rather, I was not only welcomed home, but the VA system and the VA benefits were excellent. But then the whole country was actually involved in the war. Every mother's son carried a draft card and could be called at any moment. Further, we were asked to actually pay for the war with a surcharge on our income taxes. Further, the news was relatively uncontrolled, and the war was broadcast into homes on a nightly basis, in a way that simply is not permitted today. This war, on the other hand, is an abstraction to most of us; we do not have any personal contact with it. It is largely a political issue, for those interested in politics, and for only a very few a personal issue. It is fought by a “professional army” while the rest of the country absents itself. Even the name, “The War on Terror,” is more of a marketing device than a real description. And we are not even asked to pay for it; rather, we have placed the burden for fighting it on the young (and the unlucky reserves) and debt for it on our children and grandchildren. We are asked to “support” this war, but not to inconvenience ourselves in any way over it.

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Two From John Zmirak

"Today it is almost axiomatic that conservatives are nationalistic, interventionist, and overly fond of answering political problems with police or military solutions," he begins ─ Militarism, Nationalism… and Conservatism? He continues: "Those of us who rightly pointed out that Ron Paul was a far more consistent representative of conservative principles were continually frustrated by the sheer thick-headedness of pro-war Republicans, who seemed literally incapable of intellectually processing the idea that any mission which American troops were currently dispatched might be counterproductive or futile, much less unjust."

"Can anyone imagine--please grant me a moment of poetic license here--that the conservative movement in America might be strongly influenced by Trostkyites?" he asks in this brilliant satire ─ Saying “No” to Tenured Fascists.

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Galveston

Justin Raimondo in the conclusion to his latest piece for TakimagRon Paul Update:
    It’s little short of a miracle that someone with such well-defined, angular views has managed to win ten terms as a Republican congressman representing a rural district in Texas. It speaks well of the people of the Galveston area, where Ron has been a practicing doctor lo these many years, that they aren’t easily fooled by Washington spin-meisters and neocon pundits sitting in Manhattan. I only hope that they hold steady in their uniquely American orneriness.
Coincidentally, or not, here's a great antiwar hit about the city:

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ENDGAME

A report that "the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse" ─ Rule by fear or rule by law? The plan:
    Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.

    According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."
[link via the LewRockwell.com Blog]

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The New Religious Right

David Kuo says that it will be "more progressive -- but not liberal" ─ Not your father's religious right. This is noteworthy: "Bush's fall from grace has also highlighted a spiritual reality as evangelicals have begun to sense just how damaging the fusion of Bush and Jesus has been to the perception of our Christian faith." This, too: "So it's not impossible that when Huckabee is done not being the GOP nominee, he might just sit back, look at his list of donors and the gaping hole in leadership on the religious right and decide it's not so bad being king ... maker."

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Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Qatar

Built on land donated by the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani ─ Qatar: First church in 14 centuries to open in time for Easter. It may not look like a church: "The church will not have a spire or freestanding cross, since Christians are forbidden to display crosses in the Arab Gulf states."

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Foreign English Teachers of Korea Unite; You Have Only Your Distorted Image Here as Criminal, Drug Using Pedophiles to Lose!

A report that "foreign teachers in Korea want to form either an association or union to promote awareness and to protect themselves against unfair work practices" ─ Foreign Teachers Seek Association. Of note, the article reports that "[t]he Education Ministry and the Korea Federation of Teachers’ Association also want foreign teachers to organize their own union as they have a limited budget and manpower to represent their interests" [emphasis mine]. Yeah, right. Still, that is surely a blessing in disguise, as it's much better to go the non-governmental route. Also of note: "Foreign English teachers also want to clean up their distorted image here as criminal, drug using pedophiles."

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Peak Oil 101

Gail E. Tverberg's "peak oil science curriculum suitable for introductory college science classes, advanced high school classes, and adult seminars" will make an ideal supplementary lesson for my incoming freshmen ─ Peak oil science curriculum.

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Another Gongso (公所)

This humble little mission church (thanks, Ut videam) is pretty darn cute ─ 천주교감곡성당상평공소. I can't imagine the need for a mic and speakers in such a small space, though.

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"Pilgrimage for World Peace"

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An American in Paris P'yŏngyang

While the neocon bloggers on Korean affairs are up in arms over this, I'm not ─ The New York Philharmonic arrives in Pyongyang, anti US posters disappear. Even Stalinists deserve a chance to hear some good music. An amusing exceprt from the article:
    The report praises the initiative taken by the Orchestra, financed by a wealthy Japanese woman who lives in Italy, but underlines that “Gershwin and Dvorak [composers whose music is due to be preformed according to the program ed] cannot possibly compete with pieces such as ‘Defending the Homeland’, sung by soldiers during the 1950 civil war”.

    This notwithstanding, the North Korean propaganda machine has ordered that all posters that may “offend the American imperialists” be removed from the streets of the capital. Zarin Mehta, the Orchestra’s executive director, also confirms that during the concert the flags of Washington and Pyongyang will fly “side by side”.

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Ralph to the Rescue

Some good news today ─ Nader announces run for president. Consider this post an end to my flirtation with Obamamania and as a tentative endorsement of the Seventeen Traditions author.

Dr. Ron Paul's run was, and is, an amazing accomplishment, but as clear as it is that he will not win his party's nomination was his statemnt that will not make a third party run. His campaign achieved more than we had imagined it would, but less than we had hoped and prayed for. More Americans than ever before, especially the young, now realize how detrimental empire is to our republic, but, alack, much of America, especially in the G.O.P., is too jingoistic to rethink the un-American Empire. And we still need at least one voice in Congress to cry "nay" ─ The Committee to Re-Elect Ron Paul - 2008.

Justin Raimondo made the Naderian case in Pat Buchanan's magazine, The American Conservative, four years ago ─ Old Right Nader. Part of the author's account of his visit to a Nader for President rally:
    What we have in this country, he declared, is “corporate socialism.” You should’ve seen the dirty looks I got as I applauded vigorously. Socialism, to this audience, doesn’t have anything to do with corporations, it can’t. But Nader is no Red; he knows better. Although all 11 varieties of Trotskyists were there in full force, earnestly hawking their pamphlets, the rhetoric that was coming from the stage was hardly music to their ears.

    Nader’s distrust of bigness, either corporate or governmental, his fear of centralized power, his sharp critique of the managerial-bureaucratic mentality, all recall the distinctively American tradition of individualist populism. Just as Nader rebelled against the corporate socialism of the Democratic Party establishment, so the mostly Midwestern progressives turned against the New Deal when it became a stalking horse for corporatism and war. Nader’s views are attractive to the Left but are rooted, at least in part, on the libertarian and populist Right.
Also from 2004, Bill Kauffman noted "just how much the populists of Left and Right have in common in an age in which neo-conservatives and neo-liberals have embraced economic globalism and pre-emptive war" ─ Nader v. Bush. In another article of the same year, he said that "if Nader runs the antiwar, anti-corporate, pro-Middle America campaign he has previewed, we might finally hear the welcome echoes of the long lost William Jennings Bryan" ─ Hey Ralph, Why Not Another Party of the People? The conclusion of that second article bears reprinting:
    Run, Ralph, run. Run left, run right, run as constitutionalist liberal, as antiwar patriot, as a man proud to stand in the Bryan-La Follette-Gene McCarthy-Paul Goodman tradition. You'd be surprised at how many Main Street conservatives, disaffected Republicans, and pissed-off libertarians wish you well. Hell, I probably disagree with half your platform but I wish you more than well. As night falls in what used to be America, the bedfellows get ever stranger.

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Right-Wingers for Barack Hussein Obama

Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term, known as "The Father of Reagonomics," concludes that "President Obama and his Secretary of the Treasury, Ralph Gomery, are our last best hopes" ─ Obama and Global Trade.

Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo lauds the fact that "Obama has become more outspoken in his opposition to the Iraq war as the campaign has progressed, and not only that but has denounced the 'mindset' among our rulers, and the leaders of both parties, that led us into that trap to begin with" ─ The Year of the Insurgents.

By way of contrast, "If it simply came down to Iraq, where McCain has always been wrong and Obama has, more or less, always been right, I could probably see my way to cheer some modest cheers for Obama, but it isn’t and can’t be just about Iraq, even as important as the war is," says Daniel Larison ─ Obama And The Antiwar Right.

Mr. Larison is right, of course, but the war has become issue numero uno for me if only because the most important issue, abortion, will be skirted as it has been for the last 35 years no matter who sits in the Oval Office. Both parties want status quo on abortion as it maintains their bases. The war is then one issue which could break America, so it comes down to McCain vs. Obama, as a patriot, I'll support Obama.

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The Tao and Consequentialism

From my limited knowledge of the text, I have to agree with sinologist Sam Crane that the answer to this question he poses is "no" ─ Is the Tao Te Ching Consequentialist?

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The Independent Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate

A report on "one of the most bizarre byproducts of Turkish nationalism" ─ The Ergenekon affair: Turkish/Orthodox controversy. Some history:
    In the years of the 1919-1922 Greek-Turkish war, Mustafa Kemal, the Republic of Turkey's first president, won an unconventional ally. A Greek Orthodox priest from Akdag Maden in East Central Anatolia, Pavlos Karahisaridis - later to become widely known as Papa-Eftim - joined Turkish nationalist forces in their struggle against Greece. His mission was to win the loyalty of the hundreds of thousands of Turkish-speaking Orthodox living throughout inner Anatolia, the Karamanlis, and create an Orthodox subdivision of the Turkish nation.
Derin devlet, meaning "deep state" in Turkish, refers to "an influential and informal anti-democratic coalition within the Turkish political system, composed of high-level elements within the Turkish military, security and intelligence services, the judicial branch, and important commanders of organized crime." The group reported on above, as well as the Dönmeh, "a group of Sabbatean Crypto-Jews of the Near East who are followers of the 17th century Ottoman Jewish messiah Sabbatai Zevi," form part of this "deep state." See also The History of Freemasonry in Turkey.

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Abortion Claims Another Victim

This time a mother ─ Talented British Artist Hangs Herself Due To Grief After Abortion. Emma Beck's suicicde note:
    Living is hell for me. I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum. I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies - they need me, no one else does.
She "didn't want to do it," but her boyfriend, and the State, wanted her to.

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The Shocking Lack of Rapes on American College Campuses

"Promiscuity and hype have created a phony epidemic at colleges," says Heather Mac Donald ─ What campus rape crisis? The first paragraph:
    It's a lonely job, working the phones at a college rape crisis center. Day after day, you wait for the casualties to show up from the alleged campus rape epidemic -- but no one calls. Could this mean that the crisis is overblown? No. It means, according to campus sexual-assault organizations, that the abuse of coeds is worse than anyone had ever imagined. It means that consultants and counselors need more funding to persuade student rape victims to break the silence of their suffering.

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Adios, señor Chávez

With this story, his writing appears to be on the wall ─ Colombia rebels get foothold in Venezuela. The assertation that "Hugo Chavez [is] giving the leftist guerrillas free rein" spells his end. Colombia is, after all, an ally in The Global War on Terrorism™.

I agree with Mexican leftist novelist Carlos Fuentes that "Chávez is a tropical Mussolini" and would be glad to see him go, but never, ever, by American intervention. Rather, I'd like see him transitioned out of power by the efforts of his own countrymen or, failing that, by regional forces. But I agree with the dictator on one thing ─ Hegemony or Survival by Noam Chomsky is a great book.

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Congratulations, President Lee

Let this Pohang resident be the first be the first to congratulate one of Pohang's own ─ Conservative South Korean President to Be Inaugurated. I'm wary of his "big government conservatism," but I have little doubt that we will see an improvement over the last ten years of leftist rule.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Tridharma

An interesting look at the Chinese worldview through Indian eyes ─ Unique spiritual cauldron of Taoism, Buddhism & Confucianism. The introduction:
    Chinese mythology is unique in that though it is populated by hundreds of gods and goddesses and supernatural beings like dragons, there is no concept of an all-powerful divine entity or God. Conflicts related to rebirth (found in Hinduism) and sin (found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are conspicuous by their absence. Chinese culture is very this-worldly . What matters is the here and the now. Social ethics and morality matter more than spiritual issues. Three thought processes have influenced Chinese thought – Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
The article has me pulling Three Chinese Poets by Vikram Seth off the shelf for a re-read.

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Kevin R. C. Gutzman on the Constitution

In this review, the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution pans a book whose author asserts that "the United States Constitution fails to uphold the principles of the American nation, and something needs to be done about it" ─ The U.S. Constitution is Not Democratic—and Why That’s a Good Thing.

Here, in a week-old article linked to by The New Beginning, he takes on critics of his own book ─ Recovering the Actual Constitution.

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Paul Craig Roberts on the Protect America Act

The assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration weighs in on what's really needed ─ Protecting America – From the President. "George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison saw it differently," says the author. "The American people cannot be safe unless the president is accountable and under many restraints."

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Preempting Sibel Edwards?

If what Joshua Frank suggests is true, and "the White House has been spooked by Edmonds and hopes to absolve the U.S. officials allegedly involved in the illegal sale of nuclear technology to private Turkish 'entities,'" our goose is truly cooked ─ Why Bush Wants to Legalize the Nuke Trade With Turkey.

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Give Water Torture a Try

Mort Rosenblum has a simple sugestion for those who are on the fence on the issue ─ Is It Torture? Try It. An excerpt:
    For anyone not clear whether something is torture, here is a simple test: Try it. Not under controlled circumstances, when you know that it will stop. Try it for real. Find some sadist accountable to no one. Stick with it long enough to see the irrelevance of sterile debate at a safe distance. Does water actually enter the lungs? Does it matter?
Karen J. Greenberg has another simple suggestion for the sqeamish ─ Visiting the Torture Museum. She quotes Malcolm Nance, former instructor for the U.S. military's SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training program, who himself experienced water torture:
    Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

    Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim's face) and the obstinacy of the subject.

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Why Do the Serbs Hate Us?

It's not only Arabs who fail to understand that we know what's best for them ─ Serbs protesting Kosovo independence attack US embassy in Belgrade. Can't they realize that our cleaving away of a large portion of their country, their ancestral heartland, was in their best interests? And why do people over there remain so upset about ancient history? I mean, our bombing of Belgrade on Orthodox Easter happened way back in the Lewinski Era.

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Brave New Kosovo

Another reason not to recognize the newly independent state ─ Radical Kosovo Constitution Removes all Protection for the Unborn and Traditional Family. The article states that the proposed constitution would "would transform the traditional Muslim and Orthodox Christian society by removing all legal protection from unborn children and granting special rights on the basis of sexual orientation" and "cedes the interpretation of social norms to international human rights bodies centered at the United Nations." An excerpt from the article:
    Article 25 of the draft document on the "Right to Life" removes protection from the unborn stating that, "every individual enjoys the right to life from birth," and Article 26 grants "the right to make decisions in relation to reproduction in accordance with the rules and procedures set forth by law," further giving each Kosovar "the right to have control over his/her body in accordance with law."

    The draft constitution specifically ensures that "no one shall be discriminated against on the basis of … sexual orientation" but gives no special protection to the traditional family. In fact, the English version of the draft article on the "Right to Marriage and Family" leaves out mention of men and women, stating only that "Based on free will, everyone enjoys the right to marry and the right to have a family."

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Long Live Free Liechtenstein!

May she prevail in the "war of words [that] has just erupted between the small Alpine principality and Germany over German citizens placing assets in Liechtenstein’s banks in order to reduce their tax bills" ─ Liechtenstein’s Tax War. Some inspiring background on the Catholic country:
    Liechtenstein became a sovereign state in 1806 following the Holy Roman Empire’s dissolution. Until 1918, it was closely linked to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but entered into a customs and monetary union with Switzerland following World War I. After inter-war instability and a successful effort to avoid being swallowed by National Socialist Germany, Liechtenstein began its rise to prosperity in the 1950s. The growth which made it one of the world’s richest countries had many causes, but central to Liechtenstein’s success were two factors.

    The first was the decision to specialize in activities which Liechtenstein did extremely well: financial services and high-tech industries. The second was Liechtenstein’s adherence to Adam Smith’s famous observation, “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice.”

    Thus not only have Liechtensteiners profited from the fact that the state takes relatively little of their wealth, but they are not burdened with the type of opulent welfare bureaucracies that characterize “Social Europe.” Hence Liechtenstein’s government regularly runs surpluses rather than deficits. Its unemployment rate is presently 2.7 percent....

    Not that Liechtenstein is likely to be intimidated by Germany’s recent actions. The country has a proud reputation for defying some formidable bullies. In 1945, a group of Russians fleeing Communist tyranny crossed Liechtenstein’s border seeking refuge from the Red Army. Despite lacking an army and in the face of overwhelming force, little Liechtenstein refused to give up the refugees. In 1993, the Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn called this act an “outstanding lesson in courage.”

    Solzhenitsyn contrasted it with the behavior of the Western powers who handed over thousands of anti-Communist Soviet citizens to Soviet forces, who swiftly dispatched them to the degradation and death of Stalin’s Gulag.

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Benedict in China

Don't expect an opera of that title any time soon ─ Papal trip to China "unthinkable": Vatican official. The articles quotes an unnamed official with the following statement:
    If we don't arrive at a decent level of religious freedom, what can the Pope do in Beijing? Meet the president of the country? And then only see the official (state-backed) community.

    So, today, a trip to China is unthinkable, even if it's the desire of Pope Benedict. But today there are not the conditions for this to happen.

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Korean Hallowed Ground

Our favorite chronicler of Korean church architcture pays a visit to one of the many sites scattered throughout the country where the many thousands of Martyrs of Korea met their glory in the 19th Century persecutions ─ 천주교연풍성지성당. The white snow on the ground where holy blood was shed makes the photos all the more moving.

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The War Party on the March

"The neocon-liberal popular front" exposed by who else but Justin Raimondo ─ Iraq and the Kosovo Connection. (I was not aware the the author ran against Nancy Pelosi in 1996 ─ Raimondo for Congress.)

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Dumb Bombs

They're evil, too ─ Children Are Forty Percent of Cluster Bomb Casualties. The story is about "[t]he attempt to achieve a treaty, known as the Oslo Process, [which] was started last year by New Zealand and six other countries." The article notes that "major producers such as the US, Russia, China and Pakistan have not joined the process." One of the world's smallest countries, however, has ─ Holy See: Cluster Bombs Never Acceptable.

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Chinese Translation of Bishop Karol Wojtyla's Play

"Upon the completion, I gave thanks to the late Pope, for he has taught me what is love," says translater Dominic Cheung Ho Kin ─ "The Jeweler's Shop" Published in Chinese. "I was amazed by the work of John Paul II," marvels Mr. Cheung. "How could an unmarried priest know so well the love between a man and a woman?"

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The Bishop of Hippo and the Separation Between Church and State

Benedict XVI on a pivotal thinker in "the development of modern political thought in the West and in Christian historical theology" ─ Pope: St. Augustine Defined "True Secularism".

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Chinese Takeover of North Korea?

Koreanologist Andrei Lankov discusses the looming "prospect of a Chinese takeover of North Korea," saying that "while not being the best available solution, [it] might still open ways for hope" ─ China puppet-play a plus for Koreas.

The author makes seveal fascinating observations, among them: (1) that "around 2002 Chinese diplomats and politicians concluded that the collapse of the North Korean state would not serve China’s interests and thus should be prevented or controlled;" (2) "that if the demise of Kim Jong Il and/or his regime leads to social disruption and chaos, the Chinese will try to obtain the UN peace-keeping mandate to restore order in the northern part of the Korean peninsula;" (3) that "if... reforms are undertaken without unification with the South, the North Koreans will not compare their state and their consumption level with those of rich South, but rather with their own sorry past, and as a result they will have less psychological reason for discontentand;" (4) that while "State-sponsored nationalism is an important feature of the South Korean ideological landscape and lip service to unification as the nation’s supreme goal is made by all political forces in Seoul.... "the policy of the South Korean government over the past 10 years has been deliberately aimed at postponing unification, seen as a source of great troubles, and it remains to be seen whether South Korea will be able and willing to assume responsibilities and risks in case of a major crisis."

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Taguba, Watada, Yee

A profile of three men "front and center in these fights over the use of torture, questions of wartime ethics and conduct and even over the legality of the Iraq war itself" ─ Asian American soldiers of conscience. Missing from the article was mention of Eric Shinseki.

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What Do P'yŏngyang and Baghdad Have in Common?

You won't see any imperfect people on the streets ─ Disabled and beggars banned from the streets of Baghdad. While North Korean lebensunwertes Leben are kept out of sight to crate the illusion of a "worker's paradise" populated by a "super race," the Iraqi Interior Ministry's initiative "is aimed at avoiding that this vulnerable group be exploited as terrorists or suicide bombers." The move comes after al-Qaeda "used two disabled women to carry out the February 1st bombing which killed over 100 people in the capital."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Our "One-Night Stand" Culture and Economy

Caleb Stegall reviews a new book on the Sage of Kentucky ─ Joining In: Wendell Berry and Friends. This excerpt on "Berry’s complex and brilliant exposition of the subtle relationships between sexuality, a consumer economy, and human community and responsibility" caught my eye:
    In the essay “The Whole Horse” Berry describes our culture and economy as patterned on “the one-night stand.” What he means is that in an industrial economy, relationships of significance or meaning have been severed even as the pursuit of pleasure or satisfaction intensifies. For instance, in a one-night stand buyers and sellers do not really know one another before the event. They enter into it more or less anonymously and then commit to stay away from one another, and deny all consequences, after the transaction is complete. (Norman Wirzba)

    [....]

    In contrast to the sexuality of the global industrial economy rooted in the contractual politics of commodified possessions and litigation, the sexuality of community as Berry defines it is rooted in the trust of marriage and its leitourgia—the visible and social cultivation of the works of love. . . . Those liturgically bound in the sacraments of love may not afford to be thus litigiously “liberated” from the communal disciplines of affection and loyalty, lest they find they have become alienated selves in a shared world characterized by suspicion, competition, and violence where all human eye contact has become uncomfortable, indeed dangerously untrustworthy. (P. Travis Kroeker)

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Sex Before Dating

Forget marriage, the demystification of sex is complete ─ The Book on Hooking Up. The post quotes author Kathleen A. Bogle:
    The “date” still exists among college students, but it is couples who are already in an exclusive relationship who do it. In other words, the pathway to a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship where a couple might go on a date begins with hooking up. In the dating era, students would go on a date, which might lead to something sexual happening; in the hookup era, students hook up, which might lead to dating. This is a reversal of the traditional order of things. The problem is that many college men are pleased with the status quo; they can hook up and if they want to pursue an ongoing relationship they can, but they are under no obligation to do so. Women, on the other hand, get increasingly frustrated after freshman year with how often it seems that hooking up leads to “nothing.”
[link via A conservative blog for peace]

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The Isolationism Canard

Justin Raimondo on the candidate who is attempting to "position himself as the latter-day Harry Truman, the valiant crusader against the forces of Isolationism and Reaction" ─ Why Is John McCain Running Against Robert A. Taft?

Edward A. Olsen offers some "straight talk," concluding that "[Dr. Ron] Paul's commitment to constitutionalism, fiscal prudence, federalism, small government, and avoiding the strategic entanglements that the founding fathers – especially Washington and Jefferson – warned against makes him the only true conservative among the Republican presidential aspirants" ─ Non-Interventionism Is Conservative.

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Novelist Henry W. Clune

Fellow Western New Yorker Bill Kaufman on "the only American writer to criticize, contemporaneously, the two world wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and the first Iraq War" ─ The Man Who Was Rochester.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Washington's Birthday Reads for Catholics

The Father of Our Country has the rare distinction of being mentioned by name in a papal encyclical ─ Leo XIII - Longinqua. Here's the passage:
    Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion. She, by her very nature, guards and defends all the principles on which duties are founded, and setting before us the motives most powerful to influence us, commands us to live virtuously and forbids us to transgress. Now what is the Church other than a legitimate society, founded by the will and ordinance of Jesus Christ for the preservation of morality and the defence of religion? For this reason have We repeatedly endeavored, from the summit of the pontifical dignity, to inculcate that the Church, whilst directly and immediately aiming at the salvation of souls and the beatitude which is to be attained in heaven, is yet, even in the order of temporal things, the fountain of blessings so numerous and great that they could not have been greater or more numerous had the original purpose of her institution been the pursuit of happiness during the life which is spent on earth.
And forget everything you've heard about JFK being the first Catholic president ─ George Washington’s Conversion to Catholicism.

[links via Vox Nova]

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How Do You Say Gongso (公所) in English?

The term refers to a Catholic church building, usually in a rural location, that has no regular priest and is administratively under some nearby parish. Our favorite chronicler of Korean Catholic architecture has two recent posts depicting them, both of which are not that far from where I live ─ 천주교문경성당정리공소(성베네딕도수도회,알빈신부) and 천주교문경가은성당농암공소(성베네딕도수도회,알빈신부). Here's the most beautiful one I've ever seen ─ 천주교서산동문성당상흥리공소(폴리신부).

I've posted gongso photos of my own before. Here's one I drove by just this morning, although today it was covered in snow ─ A Rural Korean Gongso. And this gem is over one hundred years old ─ An Accidental Day Trip into Korean Catholic History.

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Were You a DC, Marvel, or Mad Magazine Boy?

Crunchy Con Rod Dreher has a must-read post for anyone like me who spent his hard-earned paper-route money on comic books ─ Comics and cultivating nerd children. Unlike me, Mr. Dreher's were "favorites were the DC Comics" and he "never got into the Marvel Comics universe," saying that he "preferred the less ambiguous DC universe." Perhaps this gets to the heart of all that I agree and disagree with Mr. Dreher about. Marvel Comics, like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, knew the following: "Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts."

We do, however, agree on this:
    I seem to recall at some point DC and Marvel put out some collector's issues involving their most popular characters in the same adventure. That struck me as dangerously weird and unsettling for some reason.
I never liked that either. We also agree fully here: "The true love of my comics life, though, was Mad magazine. It's the only one of my childhood comics obsessions that I truly believe changed my life..."

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Woodrow Wilson, Small-A Antichrist

John Zmirak with the latest of his indispensible articles ─ An Inconvenient Miracle. An excerpt:
    On February 1, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Catholic Church has recognized the final miracle required to make a saint of one of Wilson’s greatest enemies, Habsburg Emperor Karl I. It seems that a Florida Baptist from Kissimmee, at the encouragement of a Catholic friend, invoked Karl’s intercession for help with metastatic breast cancer. As the Sentinel notes: “A judicial tribunal convened by the Diocese of Orlando and officially concluded Thursday has found that there is no medical explanation for the woman’s dramatic recovery, and more than half a dozen doctors in two states—most of them non-Catholics – agreed.” That makes two miraculous interventions attributed to Karl, enough for the pope to certify that Karl is in heaven.

    It’s rarely remembered now, but Woodrow Wilson set as one of the primary war aims of the U.S. as she entered (thanks to his careful maneuvering) World War I the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. As a multi-ethnic state based not on 19th century nationalism but ancient dynastic loyalty cemented by a majority Catholic faith, it offended his modern notions of what should constitute a country—and as a good Princeton academic, who was in addition convinced that he personally embodied the Will of God, Wilson knew that he could do better.
Blessed Charles of Austria, ora pro nobis.

[link via LewRockwell.com Blog]

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Ut Unum Sint

Some good news, for a change ─ Ravenna Was "Breakthrough" in Orthodox-Catholic Ties. Said breakthrough:
    [T]he real breakthrough, [Cardinal Kasper] said, was that "the Orthodox agreed to speak about the universal level -- because before there were some who denied that there could even be institutional structures on the universal level. The second point is that we agreed that at the universal level there is a primate. It was clear that there is only one candidate for this post, that is the Bishop of Rome, because according to the old order -- ‘taxis' in Greek -- of the Church of the first millennium the see of Rome is the first among them.

    "Many problems remain to be resolved, but we have laid a foundation upon which we can build."

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Chinese Jokes About the Dear Leader

This shows how far China has come (and how far North Korea has stayed behind) ─ Best Kim Jong Il Jokes by Chinese Bloggers. Here's one:
    美术馆里有一幅描写亚当和夏娃的画。一个英国人看了,说:“他们一定是英国人,男士有好吃的东西就和女士分享。”一个法国人看了,说:“他们一定是法国人,情侣裸体散步。”一个朝鲜人看了,说:“他们一定是朝鲜人,他们没有衣服,吃得很少,却还以为自己在天堂!”

    At the museum, there is a painting in which Adam and Eve are holding an apple.
    A Briton says, “They are Britons. The gentleman is sharing a delicious apple with a lady.”
    A Frenchman says, “They must be French. They are walking around in the nude.”
    A North Korean says, “They are North Korean. They have no clothes and little food but think of themselves as living in paradise.”
Of course, the reality isn't so funny, as these recent stories remind us ─ Famine does not get in the way of Kim Jong-il’s celebrations, 22 Returned North Korean Defectors Executed, and North Korean Man Executed for Making Phone Call.

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Korea's Palæo-Confucian Catholic Reformer


With my meager earnings from Newstex, this blog's syndicator, I've ordered Chong Yagyong: Korea's Challenge to Orthodox Neo-Confucianism, the first book I put on my wishlist on October 13, 1999.


I had read a book entitled Confucian philosophy in Korea, and Jeong Yak-yong was the only philosopher detailed in the book who left a deep impression on me. From the chapter in that book devoted to the thinker whose nom de plume was Dasan (茶山), "Tea Mountain," we learn that he was a proponent of what was then known broadly as "Western Learning," which, we learn, "encompassed not only Christianity but also Western science as they were introduced together by Jesuit missionary scholars." But he remained within his own tradition: "He took an independant stand towards Western Learning, considering that while scientific technology should be used to improve the lives of people, the cultural heritage of East Asia should be preserved with renovation and reconstruction, creatively incorportating some Western influence."

He sought to reform Neo-Confucianism by eschewing its metaphysical ponderings and returning to the humanistic and practical teachings of Confucius. From the aforementioned book, this passage should resound with any Catholic, conservative, classical liberal, or particularist:
    Tasan valued human culture as the concrete road to follow the way of Heaven. Culture is not just an accumulation of artificial decorations, but the very expression of the endowment given by Heaven to a community. Just as there are varietied of endowment, there are bound to be various cultures, each of which has to be respected in its own right. Tasan carefully distinguished Confucian teaching from Chinese culture, for while the former is a norm for truth, the latter can be corrupted with secular customs. He appreciated Korean culture as something equal to Chinese culture. Each culture embodies its spirit into the rites which are typified in the ritual act of sacrifice.
As a young man, Dasan was influenced by his reading of The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven by Matteo Ricci, S.J., this blog's namesake, and was baptized as John. His faith lapsed, however, because of what came to be known as the Chinese Rites Controversy. The Church, under the influence of Jansenism, rejected the learned opinion of Fr. Ricci and declared the Confucian ancestral rite to be incompatible with Christian teaching. (The Church corrected this opinion on Dec. 8, 1939, and has allowed the Confucian rite ever since.) In another Riccian parallel, the Apostle to China found Confucianism more compatible with The Catholic Faith than with either Buddhism or (religious) Taoism, whose influences Dasan hoped to remove in his restoration of Confucianism.

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The Gospel According to Rashōmon


Last night in the snowy quietude of the Tonggosan Recreation Forest, I finished Shūsaku Endō's A Life of Jesus. The most remarkable part of the book comes when the author, a novelist by trade, attempts to piece together from the various Gospel narratives what happened during Our Lord's Passion. Like the landmark movie Rashômon (1950), which tells the same story or a murder and rape from four different perspectives, he attemps to get behind the real events of those fateful days. Says the author:
    The psychology of the disciples as I have stated the case, is not explicit in the New Testament, but between the lines we cannot escape the feel of it. Even I as a solitary novelist in the Orient can sense that much.
His last chapter, entitled "The Question," tries to answer how the disciples, whom he is not afraid to call "nincompoops" and "cowards" and at their inability to comprehend and follow their Master, came to be apostles, who heroically spread the Gospel to alien lands and were all martyrded with utmost bravery. Those whose approach to Scripture is rigorous in the sense of rigor mortis might recoil at the author's argument that "truths" are beyond "facts," but in the end he makes a powerful and convincing psychological argument for the truth of the Resurrection.

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Non-Totalitarian Sledding in Korea

"Korean children go sledding, but at commercialized pay-to-enter hills that are totalitarian in nature," observed James Card in his litany of reasons why it was right not to award South Korea with the Winter Olympics ─ PyeongChang: Melted dreams. Mr. Card continues describing the sad situation, one of many for which I pity Korean children:
    The kids are not free to run around and sled on their own. They obediently line up with plastic sleds at the top of the hill at numbered gates and wait for the whistle of a lifeguard-type fellow before cruising down the slope.
Just last week I took my kids to such a place, and had to hold myself back when some young employee tried to tell me that I, who practically grew up on a sled in Western New York, was going too fast. Well, yesterday, on our latest trip up to my beloved Uljin County, I am happy to say that I discovered a place for non-totalitarian sledding, in a State-run facility of all places ─ the Tonggosan Recreation Forest. We had a wonderful hill all to ourselves and the State even provided us with sleds ─ rice bags filled with straw. I haven't had so much fun since my young days at Chestnut Ridge Park.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.