Saturday, January 29, 2011

Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Messe Et Motets Pour La Vierge Performed by Le Concert des Nations, Directed by Jordi Savall

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Jean-Baptiste Lully's Bellérophon Performed by Chœur de Chambre de Namur & Les Talens Lyriques, Directed by Christophe Rousset

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Igor Stravinsky's "Mass" Performed by Trinity Boys Choir & Winds of the English Bach Festival Orchestra Directed by Leonard Bernstein

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Dear Readers,

This blog will either be scaling back considerably or shutting down completely for the next couple of weeks or so as we have been blessed with the opportunity to go island-hopping in the Pacific. I'll leave you with a few hours of music. Please pray for our safe travels. You'll be in our prayers.

Yours,
J.S.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Dumb Ox


Today's his feast day, as Terry Nelson reminds us, with some important speculation — Was St. Thomas Aquinas really fat? The answer: "St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional and carefully concealed experiences of trance or ecstasy."

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Tunisia... Egpyt...

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Mr. Clinton's Bombing of Serbia and Mr. Hu's Stealth Fighter

Asia Times Online's Peter Lee writes, "The recent test flight of China's J-20 stealth fighter was short, but untangling versions of events, its development trajectory stretches back to 1999, and former premier Zhu Rongji's tears as he met a plane carrying a package 'more important than life' and the coffins of compatriots killed in the air bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Serbia" — The tearful origins of China's stealth.

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Lang Lang and Barack Obama

"This week’s storm in a teacup was when Chinese pianist Lang Lang played the Chinese song 'My Motherland' at a US state dinner for visiting Chinese functionaries," John Derbyshire reminds us — The Multicultural Cringe. Some excerpts:
    The pathology on display at that White House event was not Lang Lang’s. He’s a normal, well-adjusted human being. The abnormality was in his being asked to play for the visiting ChiComs. At a nation-to-nation event like that, a self-respecting host would put his own nation on display to the visitors....

    Why did Obama and his staff bring in a Chinese national to entertain the visiting cadres? You know perfectly well why.
The Derb says that it is none other than "the same impulse that drives Obama to bow to emirs and sultans," and which I remind you also drives him to bow to Eastasian leaders as well. The funny thing is, Mr. Obama's efforts at Multikulti, as the Germans call it, only go to show what a clueless, stereotypically dumb Uhmerican he is. Heads of state over here never bow to one another. It's called protocol.

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Anthony Esolen Dares to Take on Amy Chua

"Whereas Ms. Chua sees the mission of parenting to be to narrow children’s vision to focus on the relevant, useful and practical, Mr. Esolen seeks not just to broaden children’s vision to include the seemingly irrelevant, useless and impractical virtues of honor, heroism and love, but to raise their gaze to the heavens and the heroes and saints who reflect them" — Forget the “Tiger Mother” . . . Embrace the “Lion Father”.

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Rethinking the Other in Antiquity

A review of a new book of that title that does much to "shake a widely shared historical belief," that "introduce[s] us to a kinder, gentler ancient world," and "confirms how even back then, tossing people into a category and then hating them en masse was a choice, not an evolutionary necessity" — Us vs. Them: Good News From the Ancients! I guess we moderns aren't as special as we like to think we are.

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Asia Times Online, The American Conservative, Antiwar.com, Common Dreams, CounterPunch

They're all carrying Andrew Bacevich's latest — A cow most sacred, Dissonance on Defense, Cow Most Sacred, Cow Most Sacred: Why Military Spending Remains Untouchable, Why Military Spending is Untouchable.

"United States military outlays today equal that of every other nation on the planet combined, a situation without precedent in modern history," he reminds us. "The Pentagon presently spends more in constant dollars than it did at any time during the Cold War - this despite the absence of anything remotely approximating what national security experts like to call a 'peer competitor.'"

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Imperial Expansion Amid National Decline

  • Some Pentagram apparatchik, not specifying where the money will come from, has announced, "Over the long-term lay-down of our forces in the Pacific, we are looking at ways to even bolster that, not necessarily in Korea and Japan, but along the Pacific Rim, particularly in Southeast Asia" — US considers boosting force in Asia: Pentagon.

  • Of course, such imperial expansion requires enemies — Pentagon Sees N.Korea as Rising Threat. Said the same apparatchink, "[G]iven their pursuit of both the nuclear weapons and their ballistic-missile capabilities, that he sees them being a direct threat not within five years, but sooner than that."
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    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Ignazio Donati's O Gloriosa Domina, Peformed by Philippe Jaroussky and L'Arpeggiata, Directed by Christina Pluhar

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    Our Wars Are Killing US

    "It is not often that one sees an entire nation marching in lockstep to go over a cliff into an abyss," begins Philip Giraldi, "but that is essentially what the United States is doing at the moment" — The Road to National Suicide.

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    America's Three Races

    Peter Augustine Lawler on the most fascinating chapter of a most fascinating book that suggests that "each race—each color—represents the three ways of life that existed in America, and, from a certain view, the three ways of life possible for human beings" — Tocqueville on Aristocratic Indians and Southerners. An excerpt:
      The blacks—the African Americans—are slaves. They aren’t free and are compelled to work. That is, work for others.

      The whites—the dominant class in America—are members of the middle class. They’re free, and that’s the good news. The bad news is that they have to work. They have to work for themselves in order to survive and prosper. They’re middle class because they’re free like aristocrats to work like slaves. They think of themselves as beings with interests; nobody is above or below being self-interested or responsible for one’s own material needs.

      The reds—the Indians or indigenous Americans—Tocqueville describes as aristocrats. For us, it’s not so obvious why Indians belong in the same category as the hereditary aristocrats of Europe. But Tocqueville explains that the Indians—really, the Indian men—pride themselves in not devoting themselves slavishly to manual labor, to say, agriculture. They, like the European aristocrats, think of themselves as free from work so that they might pursue nobler activities—hunting, fighting, and giving speeches about hunting and fighting. And so they regard the way of life of the middle-class as unendurable drudgery. They often pride themselves in believing that they would rather die then surrender their way of life. And they really did display plenty of evidence that their lives were defined more by courage and honor than by fear. Because they knew how to die well, they thought they also knew how to live well.

      At a certain point in this chapter, Tocqueville’s analysis takes an unexpected turn. He says that the southern slave owners—the ruling class in the South—are also aristocrats. That is, they are far more like the Indians than like their fellow Europeans in the North. They, like the Indians, prided themselves as being free from the drudgery of manual labor so that they’re free for nobler activities, activities in which they could display their distinctively human virtues—courage above all. Like the Indians, they were all about hunting and fighting and giving speeches about hunting and fighting—which they called politics. They thought, like the Indian, that merely being concerned with one’s interests is slavish.

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    United Against Empire

    Stewart J. Lawrence has the happy news that "stalwart progressive groups like the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the Ralph Nader-founded Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) are now working in a de facto coalition with some 23 conservative groups, including Grover Norquist’s the Americans for Tax Reform, and the national Tea Party group FreedomWorks, to push for deep cuts in US defense spending" — A Left / Tea Party Alliance?

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    Carl Theodor Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) and Richard Einhorn's "Voices of Light" (1994)


    Above, a remarkable Sonic Youth-influenced collaboration to accompany this report — Joan of Arc, example of holiness for lay people involved in politics, says Pope. Noted critic Pauline Kael said lead Maria Falconetti's "may be the finest performance ever recorded on film."

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    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Henryk Mikołaj Górecki's Totus Tuus Performed by the Munich Bach Choir, Directed by Sir Gilbert Levine

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    With Both Korea and Somalia in the News...

    ... this classic by Yumi Kim comes to mind — Stateless in Somalia, and Loving It.

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    Steve Sailer Quotes Michael Lind on American Education and Offshoring

    "The claim that America's K-12 system is inferior to that of other industrial nations is another myth whose purpose is to divert the attention of the American public from the real reasons for the offshoring of U.S. industry" — Michael Lind v. the Sputnik Moment.

    Mr. Lind notes that "the countries at the top of the list in 2009 -- Korea, Finland, Hong-Kong China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan -- tend to be small or homogeneous or both" and that "overall PISA scores of American students are lowered by the poor results for blacks and Latinos, who make up 35 percent of America's K-12 student population."

    Also important is Mr. Lind's suggestion that "American CEOs who offshore production have no right to complain that too few Americans are going into science and engineering," asking, "Why should young Americans commit career suicide by entering occupations that are going to be offshored?"

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    Linda Freel, Rest in Peace


    The organ donation of an American Protestant missionary in Korea is being hailed by the progressive, conservative, liberal, and Catholic press respectively — Life-saving gift amid tragedy / American Organ Donor Saves Korean Lives / American teacher's organ donation saves three lives / American woman offers her organs to Koreans.

    Call me a monster, but, not disparaging Mrs. Freer's husband's decision, I have to admit, as a Confucian, I am a bit ambivalent about the whole idea of organ donation, preferring instead the integrity of the body over any and all utilitarian and humanitarian concerns.

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    A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) and The Host (2006)




    Janghwa, Hongryeon (2003) and Gwoemul (2006) deservedly top the list of these films linked to by The Marmot's Hole today — 10 Best Korean Horror Films. For the first, imagine Through a Glass Darkly (1961) meeting The Sixth Sense (1999). For the second, picture a LewRockwell.com-endorsed anti-statist Godzilla flick.

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    Conscientious Objection and Catholic Thought

    "War will exist until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today," said John F. Kennedy, one-time member of the America First Committee, "the largest popular antiwar organization in U.S. history" as Bill Kauffman likes to remind us, a quote that comes to mind reading Stepehn Hand's informative post — The Development of Conscientious Objection to Unjust Wars in Catholic Thinking.

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    Inspector O, Where Art Thou?


    Another plug for my favorite detective series to accompany defector Kim So Yeol's report on "cases of high officials having accidents while drunk driving after attending parties hosted by Kim Jong Il" — Cloak and Dagger on the Pyongyang Streets?

    On a related note, a report on the heroic journalists at Rimjingang, "the only publication written by North Koreans, about North Korea, for consumption by the outside world" — N.Korea's Brave Underground Journalists Make Headlines.

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    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    J.S. Bach's Magnificat Performed by English Bach Festival Chorus & English Bach Festival Orchestra, Directed by Leonard Bernstein

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    Liberal Pope Cracks Down on Conservative Catholic Bloggers

    That's how the mainstream media might begin to report the story of this papal reminder that "the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive," were it not for the cognitive dissonance resulting from the Vatican's social communications office's Archbishop Claudio Celli's suggestion that "it wouldn't be incorrect to direct the pope's exhortation to some conservative Catholic blogs, YouTube channels and sites which, with some vehemence, criticize bishops, public officials and policies they consider not Catholic enough" — Pope Issues Code of Conduct for Facebook, YouTube, and Catholic Blogs.

    Not surprisingly, the body of the article contradicts the headline's assertion, noting that "the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was working on a set of guidelines with recommendations for appropriate style and behavior for Catholics online." (As an English teacher, I can tell you that "issues" and "was working on" are in different verb tenses.) This message itself, in totoMessage for the 43rd World Communications Day, Benedict XVI.

    To those who would, "with some vehemence, criticize bishops, public officials and policies they consider not Catholic enough," I suggest following the gracious example of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, who would speak of "those Austrian prelates who 'were not given the grace' — as Franz often observed — to refuse to cooperate with the Nazi Regime" — An Eyewitness Account of the Beatification of Franz Jagerstatter, October 2007.

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    "Organic Catholicism"

    One of our favorite commenters, who's "been banned from enough blogs, especially Catholic blogs" (but never this one), explains what it's all about — Organic Catholicism : It's not only about being environmentally sensitive of our carbon footprints.

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    The Antiwar Right's Moment?

    "News that a clear majority of conservatives want to reduce the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, plus reports of an emerging right-left coalition against the war, have served as hopeful signs in the heretofore quixotic pursuit to arrest the giant gears of the American war machine," writes Antiwar.com's Kelly Vlahos — The Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds.

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    Henry Hazlitt vs. John Maynard Keynes

    "Their lives and loyalties are a study in contrast," writes Lew Rockwell, "and mostly of choices born of internal conviction, in Hazlitt’s case, or lack thereof, Keynes’s case" — Hazlitt and Keynes: Opposite Callings. Their books contrasted:
      Hazlitt’s great book Economics in One Lesson, written the year that Keynes died, boils down all of economics to a single principle and applies it across the board to all the policies of government. It is crystal clear in its language, designed to be read by anyone in an effort to achieve Mises’s dream of bringing economic wisdom to every citizen.

      Keynes’s major work is The General Theory and it has been read by relatively few, mainly because it is so incomprehensible as to be nearly written in code. But then it wasn’t designed for everyone. It was written for the elites by a member of the most elite class of intellectuals on the planet. Even more effectively, it was written with an eye to impressing the elites in the one way they can be impressed: a book so convoluted and contradictory that it calls forth not comprehension but ascent through intimidation. Its success is a remarkable story of the bamboozlement of an entire profession, followed by the misleading of the entire world. If there are still believers in what Murray Rothbard called the Whig Theory of History – the idea that history is one long story of progress toward the truth – the success of The General Theory is the best case against it.

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    What's In a Name?

    "Western nations may have much to learn from naming traditions in Africa," writes Uchenna Uzo, reminding us that "when Pope Benedict baptized 21 babies belonging to Vatican staff recently he took the opportunity to remind Catholics that a Christian name should be just that, Christian, since every new member of the faith acquires the character of a son or daughter of the Church" — Names and the value of a human person.

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    Chinese Megalopolis on the Rise

    News that "China is planning to create the world's biggest mega city by merging nine cities to create a metropolis twice the size of Wales with a population of 42 million," and some speculation about who's behind it — China's Empty Cities Are Result of UN Agenda 21?

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    America First!

    "The Pentagon sells out American manufacturing for Japanese bases," explains The American Conservative's Eamonn Fingleton in his very important article — Empire Is Bad Business.

    "What makes Japan particularly relevant is its finesse in manipulating an often nervous and short-sighted Pentagon for purposes that, to put it politely, serve Japan’s interests better than America’s," the author writes, noting also that "the Pentagon has played a decisive role in palliating American anger over mercantilist trade policies in several host nations."

    Mr. Fingleton continues to explain that "the greatest beneficiary has been Japan, but if anything the trade policies of South Korea have been even more blatantly at odds with American ideas of fair play," and "key European allies, not least the Germans, have also been allowed to perpetuate policies that render their markets resistant to American exports."

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    The Origins of Political Correctness, a.k.a. Totalitarian Humanism

    Keith Preston suggests it began as "a manifestation of the sense of Calvinist guilt that has been woven into the cultural fabric and historical memories of Protestant societies" with "the fascination of some of the more extreme New Left radicals of the era with the Chinese Cultural Revolution" mixed in — Where Calvin Meets Mao.

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    What's In a Name Like JoAnn Wypijewski?

    "JoAnn Wypijewski grew up in Buffalo," reads the CounterPuncher's bio at the bottom of her obituary of a fellow Buffalonian — Milton Rogovin: Portraitist to the People.

    I knew it when I first came across this writer's name a few years ago. With a name like JoAnn Wypijewski, where else could she have grown up? I wish I had a dime for every JoAnn Wypijewski I came across in the City of Good Neighbors.

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    The Uniqueness of Earth

    "We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own," says Harvard University's Howard Smith — ’We are alone’ in the universe: astronomer. "There are very few solar systems or planets like ours," he continued. "It means it is highly unlikely there are any planets with intelligent life close enough for us to make contact."

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    Post-Confucian Korea

    Chung Sung-hee reports on the disturbing success of recent propaganda campaigns "stress[ing] that family is not based on blood ties but love and understanding" — Are parents not family, too? Read, and weep:
      The study found that the scope of family narrowed significantly from five years ago. The percentage of those who believe their spouse and children are their relatives dropped from 98.4 percent and 98.7 percent in the first survey in 2005, respectively, to 81.1 percent and 84.5 percent. One of the biggest changes was that more people said they do not consider their parents as family. The percentage of those who deem parents as family fell from 92.8 percent to 77.6 percent, and that of those who view their in-laws as family plunged from 79.2 percent to 50.5 percent. In addition, more said siblings and those of their spouse are not family.
    Noteworthy that the survey was "conducted by the Gender Equality and Family Ministry" (which many of my students rightly want abolished). As Kevin Jones reminded us, "Peter Hitchens is fond of claiming that the actual purpose of polling is not to measure opinion, but to change it" — National election poll stops asking respondents if they're married.

    UPDATE: More — Only one out of five S. Koreans considers grandparents part of 'family': survey.

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    Bishop Osamu Mizobe of Takamatsu Speaks

    A report on His Excellency's "response to the 'painful admonition' he had received from the Vatican," in which he reiterated the fact that "it is not permissible for any organization or movement to use whatever power they can to stop the Bishop from taking action in his diocese" — Japanese bishop upholds suspension for the Way in his diocese.

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    Bob Barr, Baby Doc, and Blackness

    You may have heard that "[f]ormer CIA agent, Congressman, and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr has a new job" — From the Libertarian Party to the Dictator of Haiti — but have you heard of the speculation that "Barr is passing" — Is Bob Barr Black?

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    Monday, January 24, 2011

    G.F. Händel's "Oh! Had I Jubal's Lyre," Performed by Magdalena Kožená and the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Directed by Andrea Marcon

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    Sam Chatmon Performs "The Preacher and the Bear"


    Above, from the Alan Lomax Archive, something to accompany this review of "the first biography of the renegade folklorist who, says John Szwed, 'changed not only how everyone listened to music but even how they viewed America'" — The Catcher of Songs. "Alan Lomax proved that the poorest places held some of the richest cultural treasures." More of this legend heard here — Three From Sam Chatmon.

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    Dream Academy Performs "Life in a Northern Town"


    Watching The Beatles Anthology over the weekend left me feeling nostalgic for the '60s nostalgia of the '80s. The music video — Dream Academy - Life in A Northern Town.

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    Park Wan-suh, Requiem æternam...


    "Some writers are wondering why it is being held as a family funeral instead of a writers’ funeral, but it really is like Park Wan-suh to decide to have a Catholic-style family funeral," said Seoul National University Emeritus Professor Kim Yoon-sik — Acclaimed novelist Park Wan-suh leaves stirring last words. Stephen Hong eulogized the writer "whose novels criticize materialism and oppression against women" — Catholics mourn Korean woman writer’s death.

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    Buddha vs. the New Atheists


    The lovely image above of "[a]n offering of rice... left in a 'spirit house' in a Laotian town" graces Buddhist ag­nos­tic Stephen T. Asma's article arguing that "the wacky, su­per­sti­tious, cloud-cuck­oo-land forms of re­li­gion... should be cherished and preserved" — The New Athe­ists' Nar­row Worldview.

    "Many of the new athe­ists have rec­og­nized that Bud­dhism doesn't quite be­long with the oth­er re­li­gious tar­gets, and they re­serve a vague re­spect for its philosoph­i­cal core," the author writes. "I'm glad. They're right to do so. But two days in any Bud­dhist coun­try will pain­ful­ly dem­on­strate to its West­ern fans that Bud­dhism is an e­lab­o­rate, su­per­nat­u­ral, devotional re­li­gion as well."

    Later, he continues, "Con­trary to the progress-based sto­ry the West tells it­self, an­i­mis­tic ex­pla­na­tions of one's dai­ly ex­pe­ri­ence may be ev­ery bit as em­piri­cal and rational as West­ern science, if we take a clos­er look at life in the de­vel­op­ing world." He reminds us that in "places where lat­er re­li­gions like Buddhism and Roman Ca­thol­i­cism en­joy for­mal rec­og­ni­tion as na­tion­al faiths, much old­er forms of animism constitute the dai­ly con­cerns and rit­u­als of the peo­ple."

    Of course, there is much with which to disagree in Prod. Asma's article. As much as we might question "the progress-based sto­ry the West," the idea that "an­i­mis­tic ex­pla­na­tions of one's dai­ly ex­pe­ri­ence may be ev­ery bit as em­piri­cal and rational as West­ern science" is not that convincing, especially from a fellow who "find[s] much of the horse­men's cri­tiques [of monotheistic religion] to be healthy." Still, it is refreshing to read a lampooning of the "best-sell­ing athe­ists [who] are em­brac­ing their 'dan­gerous' sta­tus and dar­ing be­liev­ers to match their for­mi­da­ble philo­soph­i­cal acu­men" as "sol­diers of rea­son."

    A couple of ideas come to mind. First is Korean novelist Hahn Moo-suk's reminder that this blog's namesake, Matteo Ricci, S.J., "publicly announced that he had come to China to supplement Confucian belief, and to attack the absurdity of Buddhism," as she said in her novel Encounter. And then, in defense of animism, which the author calls "the Rod­ney Dan­ger­field of re­li­gions," Rod Dreher's retelling of "linguist Daniel Everett's experience living deep in the Amazon rainforest with a primitive tribe" comes to mind — All That is Seen and Unseen.

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    The Republic of Korea's Civilized Response to Somali Piracy

    If you're interested in military porn, you can get your fix over on Robert Koehler's fine blog — Video of recapture of Samho Jewelry. This blogger is more interested in the denouement.

    Pirates though they may be (or have been), they are worthy of the dignified treatment these stories report is being afforded to the dead — S. Korea to Hand Bodies of Pirates Over to Somalia — and to the living — Pirates may be flown to Korea for punishment. "Piracy is an issue where universal jurisdiction is applied," said a government official, quoted in the second article. "There will be no legal barriers to punish them because it is an international crime against the Korean people."

    Compare that manly, civilized response to the barbarism of the cheering when suspected pirates "were 'set free' in a tiny inflatable raft, with no navigation equipment, 350 miles off the coast of Yemen" (to agonizingly die of thirst) by one of the blogosphere's more annoying personalities — Rod Dreher Supports Extra-Judicial Execution. "Off you go, lads! Enjoy the sailing!" he lisped.

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    Can't Help But Find This Image Really Funny

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    Walter Williams on the Destruction of the Black Family

    "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do, what Jim Crow couldn't do, what the harshest racism couldn't do" — The State Against Blacks.

    Egalitarians need not fret; the State has been turning its sights on Whites for some time now, its diabolical treatment of Indians and Blacks, captive audiences if you will, merely target practice for the final prize. Thinkers as diverse as Edmund Burke and Howard Zinn have recognized the family's role as the final bulwark against State tyranny, as this ancient post of mine attests — The Family as Domestic Church, Little Platoon, and Pocket of Insurrection. Remember, "family" is a dirty word in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

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    Master Han Kyu Cho's "Natural Farming" in Hawai'i

    A report on the "folksy South Korean master farmer" and his "self-sufficient system to raise crops and livestock with resources available on the farm" — A Self-Sufficient System of Farming Is Increasing Yields Across Hawaii. "Rather than applying chemical fertilizers, farmers boost the beneficial microbes that occur naturally in the soil by collecting and culturing them with everyday ingredients such as steamed rice and brown sugar," reports Susan Essoyan. "They also feed their crops with solutions containing minerals and amino acids made from castoff items such as eggshells and fish bones."

    This brings to mind a week-old post of mine on the "mixing [of] effective microorganisms (EM) into feed" and calls to "transform existing livestock facilities into eco-friendly ones" — Are Natural Farming Practices Preventative of Foot-and-Mouth Diesease? From the article comes this fascinating example, also involving the raising of livestock:
      Across the state, an unusual piggery in Kurtistown on the Big Island is another showcase for Cho's system of "natural farming." The pig farm's claim to fame: It does not smell or attract flies or even require cleaning. And its pigs are thriving.

      "It is the first piggery of this kind in the United States," said Michael DuPonte, a livestock extension agent with the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and a technical adviser on the demonstration project. "It's been in production for 20 months, and I haven't cleaned the piggery yet. It looks the same as the day I opened it. No smell, no flies. It's a combination of the dry litter soaking up all the liquids and the microbes working together to break down the manure."

      DuPonte said the idea of not cleaning a pigsty did not sit well with him at first blush. "When Master Cho came to see me, I was a skeptic," DuPonte said. "I asked him, 'What about disease?' You don't clean a piggery in Hawaii, guarantee your pigs are going to get sick. He said, 'Don't worry about disease. The microbes will take care of that.' I didn't believe him."

      But after a trip to Korea to see a piggery in action, DuPonte became a convert. The Kang Farms "Inoculated Dry Litter System" piggery building, opened in August 2009 in Kurtistown, measures 30 by 60 feet and handles up to 125 pigs. It uses natural ventilation and is oriented for sunlight. The pens are filled with a deep bed of dry sawdust and wood chips, spiked with microorganisms cultivated from local soil that help break down the manure. The pigs are fed rations made from agricultural waste, including sweet potatoes, macadamia nuts and bananas.

      DuPonte says the pigs seem "stress-free and contented," and they are good neighbors because the piggery produces no waste, runoff or telltale smell. That is important for Hawaii's swine farmers, who have been pushed from one location after another by urbanization and complaints from neighbors. The piggery project was supported by the University of Hawaii, Farm Pilot Project Coordination, Hawaii County and Agribusiness Development Corp., among others.

      "Pig farmers are very, very interested in the system," DuPonte said. "I've had 50 people come in and ask me if I would build these piggeries in their place. It's going to take off, mainly because of lack of odor. Pig farmers have been kicked out of Kam IV Road and then Hawaii Kai, and now they're getting challenges in Waianae and they don't know where they are going to go next."
    "Versions of natural farming have been practiced for generations in Asia," we learn. (You can say that again, as Franklin Hiram King's century-old tome attests — Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan.) The author notes, however, that "scientific proof of its efficacy is hard to come by because it is a complex system that adapts to local conditions," which calls into question the need for "scientific proof " not the system's efficacy, for which the populations of these East Asian countries alone speak.

    "Just jump in and try and practice and see how it works out," advised Master Cho.

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    Real Ecumenism

  • Today, we celebrate the "bishop and Doctor of the Church [whose] preaching brought thousands of Protestants back to the Catholic fold" — Jan. 24 brings feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of Church unity

  • "High-church Greek Catholicism" on video — Russian Catholic nuns in Rome. "Russian icons fill the walls of the small chapel of the monastery of Rome where nuns from around the world pray for Russia as part of a special effort for over 50 years now."

  • The "former Church of England Bishop Keith Newton, who now heads the first ever Ordinariate, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham," "leapt into this without assurances of an income or even a place to live" — The leap of faith into the Ordinariate.
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    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor, Performed by the Münchener Bach Orchester & Chor, Directed by Karl Richter



























    Above, a towering example of ecumenial cooperation to accompany this story of ecumenial cooperation — Vatican Official to Join in Ceremony With Lutherans.

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    Baron Roman Nikolai Maximilian von Ungern-Sternberg's Birthday


    'Twas yesterday, reminds J.K. Baltzersen — Counterrevolutionary Baron Born. He posts an informative video documentary and a link to this year-old post of mine about the "independent and brutal warlord in pursuit of pan-monarchist goals in Mongolia and territories east of Lake Baikal during the Russian Civil War that followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, [whose] goals included restoring the Russian monarchy under Michael Alexandrovich Romanov and the Mongolian Khanate under Bogd Khan, and [whose] opponents were mainly Communists" — Mongolia's Austrian White Russian Khan.

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    Ireland and God's People


    Elena Maria Vidal quotes a "mother of a Down's Syndrome child speak[ing] from the heart," who informs us that "abortion is illegal in Ireland, so the 90 percent abortion rate that has virtually extinguished people with Down elsewhere is not operating" — No More "Mental Retardation".

    The mother relates an anecdote in which "an American psychiatrist traveled to Ireland, and was puzzled by the fact that he saw many more children with Down syndrome in the population than he was accustomed to seeing at home," and "noted that they were integrated into everyday activities, and marveled at how they were casually accepted in everyday life." We also learn that "they are debuting a cartoon on Irish TV whose main character, 'Punkie,' is a little girl with Down syndrome," which "will be included among the ordinary children's programs."

    As I've written before, my mother worked as a nurse for many years at a day treatment facility that served many people with Down's. She always called the "God's people" because of their gentle, loving nature.

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    Is the Head of the Vatican Bank an Austrian?

    Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, "known as a staunch capitalist with a deep concern for the Church’s social teaching," has "warned of the growing influence of 'Keynesian' economic theory on both sides of the Atlantic" — Vatican bank chief issues warning about US, European economic policies. At length:
      Tedeschi cited a 2009 book, "Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why World Governments keep creating Inflation, Bubbles and Busts," by the American economist and philosopher Hunter Lewis.

      He said Lewis had spelled out the "doctrinal errors and practical disasters" of Keynes' theories.

      In simple terms, Keynes taught that in times of economic crisis, consumer demand must be stimulated by government investment and an "attitude of saving" must be discouraged, Tedeschi wrote.

      He said Keynes' crisis-averting tactics can be seen in the U.S., where government economic policy has focused on increasing public expenditures – and public debt – in order to stimulate private economic activity, including consumer demand and employment.

      In addition, also following Keynesian wisdom, the U.S. is printing more money and has looked at increasing taxes in an effort to generate more public revenues.

      Tedeschi warned that these policies are leading to a "nationalization" of private debt in the U.S. He also criticized the government bailouts of private banks that offered too much credit without adequate guarantees. This too is leading to increased government control of the economy in the U.S. — a “nationalization” that is being paid for with newly printed currency.

      In Europe, he said, the issue is the opposite. Because of the lack of widespread private debt, a "privatization" effort is being enacted to absorb the large public debt of banks and businesses.

      This also is Keynesian policy, which "perseveres against the scorned savings," Tedeschi said.

      Governments on both sides of the Atlantic, he said, are committed to Keynes' policy of increasing public debt to sustain levels of economic production, consumption, and employment.

      He said artificially low interest rates are another key to the strategy of increasing spending and discouraging saving. With no incentive to keep money in the bank, those who would have otherwise been savers are pushed to spend.

      "Zero interest rates factually equal a de facto transfer of wealth from he who was a virtuous saver (although not for Keynes) to he who has become virtuously (for Keynes) indebted," he said. "Practically, it's about a hidden tax on poor savers, a tax transferred to the wealthy, (that is), over-indebted states, business people and bankers.”

      Although the alternative to zero interest in such a situation is economic collapse and eventual default, the zero-rates "are not sustainable and are dangerous," Tedeschi warned.

      "They destroy savings, which is an essential resource to create the base for bank credit; they promote speculation on real estate and securities, create illusory artificial values rather than scaling them down; they push consumption to more risky debt; they alter the market with artificial values and thus lead to belief that the very markets do not know how to correct themselves."

      The biggest danger, Tedeschi said, is that zero interest rates "permit, or impose governments into management of the economy, without correcting inefficiency and facilitating distortions in the competition."

      He warned that the greatest economic impacts may be on the way.

      In the future, he said, inflation might be used as the "maneuver" to absorb the enormous debt in both the U.S. and Europe. Debt levels are now three times as large as the gross domestic product in most countries, he observed. Governments have thus far been able to control inflation by controlling consumption rates.

      "Someone," he said, "is hoping for new taxes to sustain a new statism that reinforces a rather weak political class in the whole western world."
    Sounds pretty solidly Austrian School to me.

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    Dictionarium Malaicum-Latinun

    A local priest hopes it will help resolve "the case of the use of the word 'Allah' by Christians," calling it "a critical tool to minimize the wrong belief that the spread of Christianity in the local languages of Malaysia is a recent phenomenon of the twentieth century" — 400 year-old Malaysian-Latin Dictionary: proof of use of the word Allah.

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    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Claudio Monteverdi's Dixit Dominus and Laudate Pueri, Seraphic Fire, Western Michigan University Chorale, Patrick Dupre Quigley




    Two of the high points of Claudio Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610, perhaps the highest point of Western music, masterfully performed by some Americans in Mexico.

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    Mother Mary

    "Christians and Muslims might lack a common dogmatic base from which to discuss theology, but they share devotion and esteem for a woman who brings them together," reminds Gabriela Maria Mihlig — Mary Unites Christians and Muslims.

    A theme taken up on the ages before — Catholics and Muslims and The Qu'ran on the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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    Libertarianism as the Negation of Ideology

    A conservative blog for peace reminds us that "libertarianism is not an ideology but simply a means; maximise liberty, with only the no-harm principle as its limit, and there would be more prosperity overall and everybody from hardcore social liberals to ‘picket-fence conservatives’ could get along" — From RR.

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    War

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    "Next Go 'Round" Performed by Old Crow Medicine Show


    They don't make 'em like Old Crow Medicine Show any more... oh, wait... they do! A heart-breaking and beautiful song, interesting theologically, too, with its hope for reincarnation and final abandonment of the same as a false hope; a desperate cry for the Sacrament of Penance.

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    G.P. da Palestrina's Assumpta est Maria Sung by Stile Antico


    On Saturdays, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to contemplate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
      Assumpta est Maria in cælum
      Gaudent Angeli laudantes
      benedicunt Dominum.

      Gaudete et exultate omnes recti corde
      quia hodie Maria Virgo
      cum Christo regnat in æternum!
      Alleluja... Alleluja!

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    Friday, January 21, 2011

    G.B. Pergolese's Stabat Mater Dolorosa Performed by Robert Expert, Patricia Petibon, and Les Folies Françoises


    On Fridays, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to contemplate the Sorrowful Mother, and this blogger invites you to contemplate the quirky loveliness of Patricia Petibon.

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    All-American Libertarianism

    Jeffrey O. Nelson's post on "one of America’s most provocative political movements" — Politics’ Crazy Uncle — links to Christopher Beam's critical but not unsympathetic article — The Trouble With Liberty. "Libertarians, of both left and right, haven’t been this close to power since 1776." [Hurrah!] "But do we want to live in their world?" [Why not? Could it be worse than having statist ideologues of the left or right legislate their moralities on us?]

    Mr Beam writes that "libertarianism is still considered the crazy uncle of American politics: loud and cocky and occasionally profound but always a bit unhinged." [We Americans are by our nature "loud and cocky and occasionally profound but always a bit unhinged," are we not?] "There’s never been a better time to be a libertarian than now," the author suggests, going on to say also that "there’s no idea more fundamental to our country’s history." He writes:
      Every political group claims the Founders as its own, but libertarians have more purchase than most. The American Revolution was a libertarian movement, rejecting overweening government power. The Constitution was a libertarian document that limited the role of the state to society’s most basic needs, like a legislature to pass laws, a court system to interpret them, and a military to protect them. (Though some Founders, like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, wanted to centralize power.) All the government-run trappings that came after—the Fed, highways, public schools, a $1.5 trillion-a-year entitlement system— were arguably departures from our country’s hard libertarian core.

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    A Justified Use of Force

    "South Korean naval special forces successfully rescued 21 seamen and their South Korean-operated cargo ship that was hijacked last week by Somali pirates in an operation that left eight Somali pirates dead" — S. Korean Navy Frees Hijacked Cargo Ship, Kills Somali Pirates.

    Two observations: (1) this operation belies the argument put forth by apologists for the American Empire that without the "indispensable nation" protecting the world's sea lanes, the international economy would collapse; and (2) notice the limited nature of the South Korean response; they are not spearheading a "Global War on Piracy."

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    Is the Cup Half Empty or Half Full?

    Stephen Hong reports that "a survey to find out the perception of South Koreans on the philosophy of life, family, ethics, religion and society" found that "53 percent of the respondents believe in 'God’s existence,' 36 percent in 'God does not exist' and 11 percent did not answer," and that "53 percent of the respondents said they believe that 'absolute truth exists'" — One out of two South Koreans believe in God.

    It's hard to interpret the results because the very name of God is controversial in the East. Is it "Lord of Heaven" (天主) used by Catholic missionaries, or "Great Heaven" (하느님) used by Korean pagans and in recent years by Catholics, or "Great One" (하나님) used by Korean Protestants? A non-religious theist would like reject all these names.

    The problem is hinted at by "how different people interpreted the word 'philosophy'" according to the survey, which "reported that 21 percent said the word brings to mind 'fortunetelling' while 40 percent said they associated the word with religious people." The Sino-Korean word for "philosophy," ch'ŏlhak (哲學), can be found on a fortune-teller's stand or a university professor's door.

    Surveying Koreans on such subjects seems meaningless.

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    Old Rightists on the Sino-American Summit

  • Patrick J. Buchanan writes, "As Hu Jintao wings his way home, America’s hectoring still ringing in his ears, he must be thinking that maybe we Americans should stop lecturing them and take a closer look at ourselves" — How the Chinese Must See Us.

  • "Hu Jintao's visit showcases American cluelessness about China," says Justin Raimondo, arguing that "China, in short, is a paper tiger, from which we have little to fear – except insofar as we insist on creating an enemy of our own making" — China – A Paper Tiger.
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    Responding to Amy Chua and Her Detractors

  • "I find myself fairly ambivalent about Chua’s ideas and those of her critics," writes Stephan Kinsella, arguing that "Chua has some good criticisms, but neither she, nor her critics, are approaching the issue of child rearing and education from any systematic, well thought out perspective" and suggesting "a similar list... for a state-hating libertarian parent" — Battle Hymn of the Libertarian-Montessori Father.

  • "Missing from Chua’s work—and the comments of her critics—is any sense of a fuller purpose to human life," writes Mary Hasson, arguing, "The measure of our parenting [sic] success is not what our child does or achieves, but what kind of person he or she becomes" — Tiger Mother and her critics: both wrong.
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    A Right Hook and a Left Jab for Decentralism

  • Bill Kauffman, in "his latest work of spirited social criticism, brings to bear all his talents—his historical smarts, his journalistic acumen, his muscular prose—upon his bracing argument for a perennial idea: secession," says The American Conservative's Thomas DePietro in his review — Breaking Up Isn’t Hard to Do.

  • CounterPunch's Sam Smith argues that "what truly brings us together is not Washington or who occupies the White House but the infinite small republics across the land of common hopes, values and frustrations, and which can learn to share these with each other in such a way that even those at the top will have to listen" — Building Little Republics in a Collapsing Empire.
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    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, Performed by the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and Matthias Goerne, Directed by Jonathan Nott






    Gustav Mahler's Songs on the Death of Children to accompany this story — Pope Assures Prayers for Parents Whose Children Have Died. "You, parents, profoundly stricken by the death, often tragic, of your children, do not let yourselves be conquered by despair and despondency, but transform your suffering into hope, as Mary did at the foot of the Cross."

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    United Against Corporatism

    A remarkable joint interview of the man I supported and the man I ended up voting for in the '08 presidential election cycle — The Odd Couple: Ron Paul and Ralph Nader Take On the Corporatocracy.

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    What's Wrong With Miss America?

    Robert Spencer "finds the six packs on display at this year’s Miss America pageant to be a major bonerkiller" — Miss America or Mr. Universe? — and Scott Locklin "find[s him]self uncomfortably on the side of grouchy feminists who wish to do away with such contests" — Miss…or Mr. America?

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    The Empire Needs North Korea

    "A peaceful resolution of the threat posed by North Korea might cause China to call for an end to the U.S. base presence on the Korean Peninsula," read the cables — China Could Ask for U.S. to Get Out of Korea, WikiLeaks Cable Warns. We can't have that now, can we?

    UPDATE: Laurence Vance reports that "Sung-Yoon Lee of the Korea Institute at Harvard writes that an actual peace treaty 'would cause all sides—not only North Koreans, but South Koreans and Americans, too—to question the need for a continued U.S. presence in Korea'" — Korean Safe in the US Wants US Troops To Stay in South Korea. [For me, the issue is not whether or US troops make the situation safer or more dangerous here (I don't think they make it any more dangerous), but why American taxpayers should foot the bill — and I say this as someone who pays Korean, not American taxes, yet my patriotism has been called into question!]

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    D. Bartolucci's O Sacrum Convivium, Tantum Ergo, Veni Creator Spiritus, Christus Est, & Ubi Caritas et Amor, Sung by Coro Interuniversitario










    An interview with the composer/conductor/cardinal above, in which he "says that although sacred music is currently in crisis, there are signs of hope" — Sacred Music in Crisis. His Eminence's conclusion:
      For sacred music, the great patriarchs are Palestrina and Bach.

      Palestrina was the one who first intuited what the perfect adjustment of polyphony to the sacred text means. It was no accident that the Council of Trent referred to him to establish the canons of sacred music. Bach is also great but reflects more the spirit of the Nordics.

      In any case, both show that music is made with the great songs of the Church.

      The West has a very rich musical history that has been taken up by many Eastern cultures. The need exists today to recover it and to give it the style and space in the place in which the liturgy was established.

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    The Franz Family Perform "Somewhere in Glory"

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    Glaspie's Green Light

  • "The revelation... puts the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in a decade of post-war sanctions and the even greater numbers killed in the 2003 US invasion in a new, decidedly unseemly light," writes Jason Ditz, also calling it "doubly shameful when one considers that, just a week after Glaspie’s reassurances the US embarked on a policy of hostility and sanctions that continues to this day, has cost over a million lives and still has 50,000 US troops inside Iraq" — Glaspie Memo Refutes Claims Leaked Docs Were Classified for ‘Security’.

  • "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait," Laurence M. Vance quotes Ambassador April Glaspie as telling Saddam Hussein, continuing, "Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America" — The Twenty-Year War in Iraq.
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    Star Trek vs. Star Wars

    "If there was a moment when the culture of enlightened modernity [sic] in the United States gave way to the sickly culture of romantic primitivism [sic], it was when the movie 'Star Wars' premiered in 1977," blathers Michael Lind, star-struck by "the optimistic vision symbolized by 'Star Trek,' according to which planets, as they developed technologically and politically, graduated to membership in the United Federation of Planets, a sort of galactic League of Nations or UN," quoted here by Daniel Larison — George Lucas Destroyed Modernity.

    "When I first watched 'Star Wars,' I was deeply shocked," moans Mr. Lind. "The representatives of the advanced, scientific, galaxy-spanning organization were now the bad guys, and the heroes were positively medieval — hereditary princes and princesses, wizards and ape-men. Aristocracy and tribalism were superior to bureaucracy. Technology was bad. Magic was good."

    Click on the link for Mr. Larison's thorough debunking of this "technocrat’s utopian post-political fantasy run riot" as "a vision to appeal to a certain type of romantic idealists with no grasp of the corrupting nature of power or the limits of human nature" that ends up "sound[ing] a great deal like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World."

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    The Left's Favorite Bogeyman

    "Are Christian militiamen roaming the streets, burning the Constitution, stuffing ballot boxes, attacking agnostics, and holding anti-Jewish mass rallies?" asks Patrick Allitt in his review of "a book about the alleged danger posed by Christian conservatives" which "is not going to convince any but the most jittery reader that fanatical Christians are about to take over leadership of the United States" — Fear of God.

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    The End of Civilian Rule in America?

    Acknowledging "the many failings of military leadership," Scott Locklin predicts "eventual military coup and Caesarism in our future" — No Way Out, Period. More:
      In the event of total economic collapse, the Army will still be there, and it will run the country. Whatever you think of the present use of the military, and however silly its genuflections to the false gods of liberal multiculturalism, it is the only large group of effective people left in America. Academia is a joke, the legal professions hopelessly corrupt, and the last vestiges of the manufacturing economy are mostly military. We can only hope such a coup would be led by good and decent men who look after the interests of the nation as a nation; an American version of Park Chung Hee or Lee Kuan Yew perhaps.

      Mind you, I don't want this to happen: no sane person does, but I think it will happen, because Caesarism is how late societies fall apart. One doesn't need to be a Spenglerian metahistorian to recognize this is the direction in which we are headed, if we aren't already standing at the breach. One need only look at how the youngest generation is being raised: either future criminals surrounded by chaotic non-families; or coddled, drugged numskulls whose every waking moment is directed by their parents. The young today already live in a totalitarian state; I'm certain they wouldn't have it otherwise as adults. The rest of us are so cowed, we don't even notice that we already live in a police state. Modern nations consist of many centers of power. Which one do you think is least incompetent?

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    What "Containing China" Means

    "The U.S. must either content itself to be eclipsed by China in the economic and therefore military sphere if indeed China continues to be successful in developing – or prevent China from rising to the standard of living in Europe and the U.S," writes John V. Walsh — An Anti-Interventionist Looks at China.

    The author says following the latter approach would produce "a win-win outcome whereby China and the US and the entire globe prosper" whilethe latter "bellicose strategy" will result in "a win-lose outcome" and a "dismal future dictated by US military policy."

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    China Looks to Germany While America Blames China

      Is China not the world’s largest exporter? Yes, it is; but until last year, it was number two; Germany was number one – and Germany has slipped now to number two. So Germany with its high wages and generous social benefits was able to outdo both the U.S. and China in exports until recently. How did Germany do this? By exporting high quality, high tech and well-branded goods. (Germany has not outsourced production to other countries as has the US.) In fact as China came into the number one exporter spot, its leaders proclaimed that they were not really number one but number one only in quantity. They said China’s goal was to follow in Germany’s path to become an exporter of “high tech, high quality, well-branded goods.” Why cannot the U.S. do this instead of blaming China for its unemployment.
    So writes John V. Walsh — An Anti-Interventionist Looks at China. "With its Jimmy Stewart localism, Germany is running rings around America," wrote Harold Meyerson a while back, noting that a "key to Germany's miracle is the mittelstand, as the family-owned small and mid-size manufacturing firms that dominate the economy are known" — Roepke Lives.

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    The Japanese Episcopacy and the Neocatechumenal Way

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    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Henry Purcell's "Funeral Sentences" Performed by the Choir of Clare College Cambridge

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    The Tao of Boëthius


    Alongside Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching and Thomas à Kempis's The Imitation of Christ, I'd rank Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy as an essential practical guide to dealing with the trials and travails of this earthy life, and for the self-cultivation to which Confucius and other sages call us.

    This book, "written in the period leading up to his brutal execution," "is a dialogue of alternating prose and verse between the ailing prisoner and his 'nurse' Philosophy." She offers the author "instruction on the nature of fortune and happiness, good and evil, fate and free will," so as to "restore his health and bring him to enlightenment." Her counsel here calls to mind not only Taoism but also the Book of Job:
      It is a strange thing that I am trying to say, and for that reason I can scarcely explain myself in words. I think that ill fortune is of greater advantage to men than good fortune. Good fortune is ever lying when she seems to favour by an appearance of happiness. Ill fortune is ever true when by her changes she shews herself inconstant. The one deceives; the other edifies. The one by a deceitful appearance of good things enchains the minds of those who enjoy them: the other frees them by a knowledge that happiness is so fragile. You see, then, that the one is blown about by winds, is ever moving and ever ignorant of its own self; the other is sober, ever prepared and ever made provident by the undergoing of its very adversities. Lastly, good fortune draws men from the straight path of true good by her fawning: ill fortune draws most men to the true good, and holds them back by her curved staff.
    Blessed Severinus Boethius's very Taoist Prayer for Help to Contemplate God:
      Father, enable our minds to rise to your ineffable dwelling place. Let us find the light and direct the eyes of our soul to you. Dispel the mists and the opaqueness of the earthly mass, and shine out with your splendor. You are the serene and tranquil abode of those who persevere in their goal of seeing you. You are at the same time the beginning, the vehicle, the guide, the way and the goal. Amen.

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    How Do You Say "Irony" In Chinese?

    "How Mao killed Chinese humor ... and how the Internet is slowly bringing it back again," explained by Eric Abrahamsen — Irony Is Good!

    The best example in the article comes not from the Internet era but from Wang Shuo's 1989 novel Please Don't Call Me Human, called "a bitter satire on the worthlessness of the individual in the eyes of the totalitarian state," in which "a local functionary receives a higher-up with a litany of ritual praise that begins with absurdity and ends in collapse: 'Respected wise dear teacher leader helmsman pathfinder vanguard pioneer designer bright light torch devil-deflecting mirror dog-beating stick dad mum grandad grandma old ancestor primal ape Supreme Deity Jade Emperor Guanyin Bodhisattva commander-in-chief....'"

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    Some Cajun Music

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    Antonio Vivaldi's L'Inverno, Performed by Giuliano Carmignola & Venice Baroque Orchestra, Directed by Andrea Marcon


    To be heard by a special audience — London: Vivaldi's Four Seasons concert for Homelessness Sunday: "The Royal College of Music will be performing Vivaldi's Four Seasons, in a special benefit concert in aid of The Upper Room... at Holy Innocents Church, Palingswick Road, Hammersmith, on Friday, 4 February, at 7.30pm."

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    Baseball Is Better

    "Just how much has college and NFL football contributed to war and nationalism?" asks Charles Stampul — How Football Explains America. "And can one even casually follow professional football without oneself contributing?"

    Good questions, which might be best answered in light of Edward Fenner's excellent piece — Why Baseball Is A Gentleman's Game. The author offers "five very simple reasons" to "call this a gentleman's sport" and explains "how it relates to the game of life" (not war). Unconvinced? Watch this George Carlin classic:

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    "Storefront Churches — Buffalo"


    Above, images from Milton Rogovin's "first social documentary series," "photographed on the East Side and completed in 1961," to accompany the news that "the Buffalo social documentary photographer who became internationally renowned for revealing the unsung stories and inherent dignity of the poor, disinherited and working class, died Tuesday morning" — Renowned for illuminating human condition, photographer dies at 101.

    "The rich have their photographers; I photograph the forgotten ones," said this man who "turned to photography not long after being hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1957 for leftist political activity." Mr. Rogovin was "a member of the Buffalo chapter of the Communist Party," as the article states: "I was active in radical movements at that time, especially in the African-American community," he confessed.

    I cast no stones, having known Mr. Rogovin and his lovely wife Anne as regular shoppers at the Lexington Co-operative Market when I was a clerk there in the late '80s and early '90s. Wonderful people. Out of power, commies take pictures of churches; in power, they send parishioners to gulags.

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    Dick Cheney's Third Term

    A conservative blog for peace with news that won't surprise anyone who's been paying attention — Obama’s latest cheerleader is... Cheney. "They were never that different."

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    "A Seamless Garment Democrat"


    "The last pro-life Democrat on a national ticket has died," announces Bill Kauffman on news of the passing of the "1972 running mate of the best Democratic nominee since Al Smith, [who] was an admirer of Catholic Worker founder and saint-to-be Dorothy Day and an active member in 1940-41 of College Men for Defense First, which merged with the America First Committee, the largest antiwar organization in American history" — Sargent Shriver, RIP.

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    Ike's Worst Nightmare

    "Fifty years after Dwight D. Eisenhower’s January 17, 1961 speech on the 'military-industrial complex', that threat has morphed into a far more powerful and sinister force than Eisenhower could have imagined," writes Gareth Porter — From Military-Industrial Complex to Permanent War State.

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    Women's "Liberation" and the American Worker

    "Until the 1970s, US capitalism shared its spoils with American workers," says Richard Wolff, arguing, "In economic terms, American 'exceptionalism' began to die in the 1970s" — The Myth of 'American Exceptionalism' Implodes. An excerpt:
      A profitable US capitalism kept running ahead of labor supply. So, it kept raising wages to attract waves of immigration and to retain employees, across the 19th century until the 1970s.

      Then everything changed. Real wages stopped rising, as US capitalists redirected their investments to produce and employ abroad, while replacing millions of workers in the US with computers. The US women's liberation moved millions of US adult women to seek paid employment. US capitalism no longer faced a shortage of labor.

      US employers took advantage of the changed situation: they stopped raising wages. When basic labor scarcity became labor excess, not only real wages, but eventually benefits, too, would stop rising. Over the last 30 years, the vast majority of US workers have, in fact, gotten poorer, when you sum up flat real wages, reduced benefits (pensions, medical insurance, etc), reduced public services and raised tax burdens. [Emphasis mine.]
    Noteworthy that the author connects the dots between the movement that led "millions of US adult women to seek paid employment" to the resulting fact that "US capitalism no longer faced a shortage of labor."

    This fact is one of many that escapes what has passed for the Left in recent decades. This wasn't always the case. Both Mother Jones and Emma Goldman were wise enough to know that having wives institutionalize their children that they might compete with their husbands in the labor force could never be "liberation."

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    Our Girls in Uniform (and Body Bags)

  • "The truth is ugly and liberals don’t want to concede the argument that there are genuine differences between men and women, that the system is stacked against them and its uncomfortable to advocate a woman’s right to go overseas and impinge on another’s right to live like a human being," says Antiwar.com's Kelly Vlahos, who also notes that "pro-war right wingers (many of whom resist the idea of women in co-ed combat) don’t want to concede that the military is anything but a virtuous pillar of American life, and that the war is just as virtuous, and winnable, and unfettered by human weakness" — Women in Combat: Equal Opportunity Meat Grinder.

  • Alternative Right's James Kirkpatrick calls this "[t]he final blow to what remains of the theoretical case for American conservatism," suggesting "that every traditional institution in the West has been fatally compromised by egalitarianism and radical leftism, and that ultimately modern conservatism serves as nothing more than the defense of the liberal establishment" — GI Jane.
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    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Gustav Mahler's Ich Bin der Welt Abhanden Gekommen, Sung by Accentus Chamber Choir, Directed by Laurence Equilbey (Film by Andy Sommer)

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    Martin Luther King and Natural Law

    Inside Catholic's Ronald J. Rychlak calls his Letter from Birmingham Jail "one of the finest modern appeals to natural law" — Natural Law from a Birmingham Jail — while George Donnelly writes, "People must recognize the difference between natural law and statutes passed by mere men – and act accordingly" — Celebrate MLK Day: Disobey an Unjust Law.

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    China's J-20

    Andrew Cockburn says that "the Chinese initiative to spend the money that Wal-Mart sends them on a weapon of dubious utility" is being "invoked to justify further increases in our own obscenely bloated defense budget" — Pentagon Ecstatic Over New Chinese "Threat".

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    The Pope on Purgatory

    Sandro Magister reports — Purgatory Exists. And It Burns. "But its fire is an interior one. The fire of the justice and grace of God."

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    Are Natural Farming Practices Preventative of Foot-and-Mouth Diesease?

  • "The Gangwon Conference on Religion and Peace (GCRP) on Jan. 14 issued a message after a meeting at the Catholic Chunchon diocesan office in Chuncheon asking the Korea government to support affected farmers and transform existing livestock facilities into eco-friendly ones," reports Stephen Hong [emphasis mine] — Foot-and-mouth disease in Korea worrying.

  • Park Kyung-man reports on a farmer whose "150 Korean beef cattle remain uninfected despite the presence of the disease in nearby areas" and who "begins and ends each day by mixing effective microorganisms (EM) into feed and feeding it to the cattle, then mixing it with water and spraying down the area around the stall" — Disease-free farm draws attention amid foot-and-mouth outbreak.
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    Winds of Change in North Korea?

    Not likely, but these article by defectors Park In Ho and Yoo Gwan Hee are of some interest — Christian Movie Being Shot inside North Korea and North Korea Embraces Blue of Peace.

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    Monday, January 17, 2011

    G.F. Händel's "Eternal Source Of Light" & J.S. Bach's "Jauchzet Gott in Allen Landen," Kathleen Battle, Wynton Marsalis, St. Luke's Orchestra

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    America's Anti-Militarist Founders

    The reviewer confesses that when he read "American University historian Arthur Ekirch's book on the anti-militarist tradition in the U.S. (it was originally published in 1956), [he] had no idea that there was an anti-militarist tradition in this country" — Alan Bock book review: U.S. has an anti-militarist tradition. Really.

    Mr. Bock says that "as Mr. Ekirch documents thoroughly, opposition to militarism, including an almost paranoid fear of having a standing army in peacetime, is deeply ingrained in our history and was embraced enthusiastically by almost all the founders." Some history:
      This concern originated with our English heritage. As an island nation, difficult to invade, England could afford to oppose militarism, and most English people looked with horror on what seemed to be a constant round of wars on the Continent as the nation-state system was being established beginning in the 1600s. Even the militia, the citizen army subject to call in crisis "was popular only when it remained an idealized or sentimentalized kind of paper army; organized into a trained body of semiregular troops, it was no more acceptable than a professional army."

      Separated from potential adversaries by 3,000 miles of ocean and imbued with English ideas about individual freedom and civil supremacy, the young United States embraced this tradition. The president was named commander-in-chief to ensure civilian control of the military. Although our first president was a former general, he retired eagerly to civilian life and warned of the danger of entangling alliances leading to war.

      Federalist plans to create a regular army, bring state militias under national control and require military service of all young men were soundly defeated. A navy was created only on the understanding that it would be used solely for coastal defense. Building too many ships capable of sailing the high seas was seen as a temptation to seek imperial outposts abroad.

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    The M.L.K. Assassination Trial No One Ever Heard Of

    "According to a Memphis jury's verdict on December 8, 1999, in the wrongful death lawsuit of the King family versus Loyd Jowers 'and other unknown co-conspirators,' Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of his own government," writes Catholic theologian James W. Douglass, who was present at said trial — The Martin Luther King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis. An excerpt:
      Almost 32 years after King's murder at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, a court extended the circle of responsibility for the assassination beyond the late scapegoat James Earl Ray to the United States government.

      I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial's second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, "Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson's trial was the trial of the century. Clinton's trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who's here?"

      What I experienced in that courtroom ranged from inspiration at the courage of the Kings, their lawyer-investigator William F. Pepper, and the witnesses, to amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King. The seriousness with which U.S. intelligence agencies planned the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. speaks eloquently of the threat Kingian nonviolence represented to the powers that be in the spring of 1968.
    Tolle, lege. This is a sinister twist on the "hiding in plain sight" idea; when our ancient republican institutions do work, the results are hidden in plain sight. Where was our much-lauded free press? "Nothing to see here, move along." The same "amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King" that Mr. Douglas experienced we should feel at "the government's carefully interwoven plot" to keep us ignorant.

    Well, not ignorant of everything. My first experience of reverse culture shock, from which I never fully recovered, was being snowed in at JFK airport after a year as a student in Chile and finding my fellow citizens glued to "gavel-to-gavel coverage" of another "trial of the century," that of Lorena Bobbitt.

    Mr. Douglas's JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, which comes to the same conclusion about another assassination, was the best book I read in 2010.

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    Richard Rodriguez Speaks Truth to Power

    "Because we can't face the complicated great world, we entertain ourselves with a political parlor game called 'conservatives versus progressives,'" he writes — Corporate Big Guys Winners in War of Words. "In fact," he writes, "it is corporate America that is profiting mightily from the uncivil war Americans are waging against each other," later suggesting that "the fierce entertainment of our national life - conservatives versus liberals - will continue until the corporate big guys call a halt in the game."

    He rightly has nothing but contempt for both sides: "If the Right is inclined to hero worship in comic-book America, the Left plays Sad Sack, entangled in a politics and upholding ideas that were worn out a generation ago."

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    South Korea's Drug Cartel

    It's called the Korea Pharmaceutical Association (KPA), and it's blocking proposals "allowing supermarkets and convenience stores to sell OTC drugs, such as aspirin, antacids, cough syrups and allergy medication" — The fight to put aspirin in convenience stores. "Drug sales in Korea are currently limited to pharmacies," and although "[c]ivic groups have called for liberalization," there is "fierce opposition from pharmacists."

    Another example of anti-market businesses that rely on state power to quash competition.

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    Somali Pirates, the Korean Navy, and the American Empire

    "A 4,500-ton South Korean destroyer was proceeding toward a Korean commercial vessel apparently hijacked by the Somali pirates Sunday," reports Shin Hae-in, noting that "President Lee Myung-bak called on his government to 'make the utmost effort in having the crew return home safely'" — Destroyer approaching hijacked vessel.

    This development belies that neoconservative/neoliberal argument for the American Empire which holds that the world is utterly dependent on the navy of "the indispensible nation" to keep the sea lanes open, lest the global economy collapse and a new dark age descend upon us. The reality is that just about every nation understands the importance of global trade and is more than willing to defend its own interests without the deindustrialized American taxpayer having to foot the bill.

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    Maurice Ravel's Pavane de la Belle au Bois Dormant, Sung by Accentus Chamber Choir, Directed by Laurence Equilbey (Film by Andy Sommer)

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    A Vicious Circle to End All Vicious Circles

    Reminding us that "America's serial wars have continually deepened that great country's economic crisis," The Daily Bell's Anthony Wile asks, "How can the US cease its warring when so many people in that beleaguered country depend on conflict for their employment?" — Perpetual War for Perpetual Employment?

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    Wimmin, Can We Leave Afghanistan Now?

    William S. Lind called it the "War for Women" and suggested that the question of "why are we still fighting.... can be answered in one word: feminism;" but it now seems that the war's one last raison d'être is evaporating — Taliban no longer opposed to female education.

    Of course, as opposition to "the rape of young boys by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilizing the Taliban" — Sodomy and Sufism in Afgaynistan — it will be up to the North American Man/Boy Love Association to take up the pro-war shilling.

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    Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.