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Friday, July 31, 2009

Some very good thoughts from The Ochlophobist

the AOANA, identity, demographics, culture; usual ochlophobic topics...

Excerpt:
One impression I have of Orthodoxy in America is that so many people I meet in Orthodox parishes, people from all sorts of backgrounds, love culture in a manner and with a sustained intensity that I have seen in no other ecclesial order. They often want to see vibrant, livable, local cultures develop in and around their parishes, and they seem to want to cultivate a coherent Orthodox subculture in America and Canada. Culture is celebrated and lived with gusto in American Orthodox churches - not just the traditionally Orthodox cultures, but any culture that the parish might have some connection to. I have been in Orthodox parishes with Latinos in the "core group" of the parish and seen this play out naturally as a part of the parish life. I have seen Suth'run embraced in Orthodox parishes in the South. Consider the work of Fr. Moses Berry. There is something about the Orthodox intuition regarding culture which seeks diligently to preserve what is good wherever it is found. I think that Orthodoxy in America is unique in its position to preserve and cultivate love for culture and cultures. We live in this land of contradiction - in so many respects a cultural wasteland, but at the same time this melting pot in which peoples of decidedly different cultures must learn to live together, and sometimes do. Perhaps Orthodox here can be an image of that "little" and real America, an America focused upon living communities and loving what is close at hand, by recognizing this as part of our spiritual genius, our charism, and, frankly, perhaps as our gift to the rest of the Orthodox world. It is in this land, more than any other, that the old vestiges of phyletism have the greatest potential be exorcised.

Orthodoxy presents an organic vision of society that has long been absent from American life. It probably won't happen, but God grant I live to the day I can stop off in any little Southern town to venerate a local shrine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Herman Goering syndrome

From ABC News.go.com
In his first prison interview, a buff-looking Bernie Madoff said he couldn't believe he got away with his massive Ponzi scheme for so long.

"There were several times that I met with the SEC and thought 'they got me,'" Madoff told Joseph Cotchett, a San Francisco lawyer threatening to sue his wife, sons and brother on behalf of a group of victims.

Cotchett said he and his partner, Nancy Fineman, met with Madoff for four and a half hours Tuesday afternoon at the federal prison in Butner, NC, where Madoff is serving his 150-year sentence.

"He looked pretty good and seems to be working out," said Cotchett. "He looked a lot better than he has in some months since I've seen photographs of him."
Bernie Madoff, as revealed by this lawyer who seems to have a serious case of man-love, exemplifies what I call 'Herman Goering syndrome.'

In the past, I've defended liquor liability claims. Bar serves a customer until he's stinking drunk. He meanders into the parking lot and gets behind the wheel. Disaster ensues. Drunk goes to jail, bar gets sued. We would end up deposing the drunk driver in prison. Often it would be a young guy and, with a manslaughter charge, he'd be in a medium security facility. He stops smoking, stops drinking, counsels with the chaplain, eats three squares a day, and works six hours in the great outdoors. By the time he leaves, he's tanned, fit and telling everyone prison's the best thing that ever happened to him.

Towards the end of Hitler's Reich, Goering too was a bloated, debauched wreck.










Then he gets captured by the Allies and put in prison. He reads, he takes walks, he eats three Puritan meals a day, and he plans for a trial he knows will end with his death sentence. By that time he's clean, sober and ready to eat the US member of the prosecuting team for breakfast.









Thus with Bernie Madoff, who's apparently got this guy eating out of his hand instead of teeing up to sue everybody named Madoff into the ground until they're coughing up that last cuff link or bit of cubic zirconium they tried to smuggle out in their stomachs.

"I was surprised at how candid he was," Cotchett told ABCNews.com after the session, the first time Madoff has talked with outside lawyers. Madoff refused to cooperate with the FBI after his initial, largely untruthful confession last December.

Cotchett said Madoff "did not dodge" any of the questions he asked and that Madoff's lawyer did not object to any of the questions.

"He obviously wanted to speak with us because in his opinion, certain members of his family knew nothing about it, had no involvement of it," said Cotchett who was able to arrange the unusual session after threatening to sue Madoff's wife Ruth.

"He cares about Ruth," said Cotchett, "but he doesn't give a ---- about his two sons, Mark and Andrew." The sons have not spoken with their father or mother since Madoff's arrest on December 11. They say there were unaware of the fraud scheme until he confessed to them as his money was running out and it appeared the crime would be exposed.

Cotchett said he did not yet know if he would name Ruth or the sons in the lawsuit, but that he was almost certain to name Madoff's brother, Peter, who served as the firm's chief compliance officer.
So now it's 'Ruth.' Quite the fire-breather, is Cotchett. If it were me, she'd be 'the prisoner's wife,' 'the wife of Bernie Madoff, convicted swindler,' 'Mrs. Bernie Madoff,' and some other choice stuff every time there's a microphone on.

The part about the sons sure strikes me as interesting. Doesn't give a s--- about them? What a putz. On the other hand, maybe they told him to take the whole fall in exchange for helping to provide cover for Ruth. So understandably, nobody's returning anyone's calls. But assuming this quid pro quo exists (and if it doesn't, Bernard Madoff is the most multi-tasking superhuman who ever lived), what could possibly hold it together? Madoff knows he's dying in prison. The whole family will be sued into oblivion: no way a bunch of formerly-rich New Yorkers are settling so long as anybody named Madoff has a stick of furniture left, and short of that, their defense attorneys are positively salivating over their future invoices. Somebody will eventually crack.

Well I certainly feel safer now

Suburban N.C. Dad Accused of Practicing, Teaching Jihad

A Joint Terrorism Task Force had been tracking Boyd at least since 2006, interested in his growing stockpile of armor-piercing assault weapons and his rural training expeditions on the Virginia border with young Muslim men, as well as the networks he used to finance and plan trips overseas.


His 'crime' appears to be being Muslim while owning and training with firearms, and participating in a US-funded guerrilla war that its sponsors now find embarrassing.

White Christians who train with firearms: they're next.

Here's another article on this doubleplusdangerous group: Neighbors defend U.S. man accused of plotting jihad

Thus the State continues its process of delegitimization, prosecuting non-crimes and sending young men to fight for foreign governments while Mexican drug cartels conduct low-grade warfare on US soil and vast stretches of US cities are no-go zones for the law abiding.

I mean really, the cops have everything so nailed down here, what conceivable reason could anybody have to engage in martial skills training?

Quite frankly, I think this guy's a much bigger threat to me and mine:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Goodbye to conservatism

There's nothing left to conserve.

From Taki's Magazine:

Enoch Powell may have argued that he would fight for his country even if it had a Communist government. At a certain point though, it is no longer a question of a different form of government for a country, but a different country altogether. The position of American conservatives regarding the regime they live under is approaching that of a pagan Roman after the eternal fire of Vesta was extinguished, or a Catholic Frenchmen after the slaughter in the Vendee. An appeal to a shared past will no longer work because that shared past does not exist. The legacy of the Founders can only be defended by incorporating them into a universal progressive history that ignores their actual beliefs. A legalistic identity based on a murky conception of universal human rights has not sufficed to hold together other regimes, and I doubt it will be able to do the same in America.

...

The Ron Paul movement must be credited for opening up space for conservatives on ideas such as the Federal Reserve, secession, and the accepted narratives about American history. Even more remarkable is the seeming refusal of the mainstream conservative movement to engage with the emerging liberty movement, even though it is huge potential source of activists, donors, and serious candidates.

Perhaps the reason behind this disconnect is that the Paul movement is the beginning of the post-conservative era for the American Right. If conservatism is about defending established institutions, Paul is not conservative. The liberty movement fundamentally challenges the legitimacy of the state, and implicitly challenges the cultural regime that supports it. A group that can cheer wildly when Abraham Lincoln is denounced as the worst president in American history is certainly a radical departure. The Paul movement’s historical revisionism, anti-state line, overt hostility towards the corporate (as opposed to capitalist) and government establishments, and indifference towards questions of respectability and permissible associations suggest that a decidedly anti-system Right is emerging.

The attacks on the liberty movement from the Left seem oddly divorced from reality. Left-wing sneers at Paul, the Tea Parties, and the Right (such as it is) generally have little to do with inflation, federal power, and government spending. The federal and state governments, with the clear help from the Fed-like, pseudo-private “watchdog” groups, have been issuing warnings about the danger of organizations like the Constitution Party and the Campaign for Liberty morphing into “militias” dedicated to–of course—white supremacy. The inevitable move towards European-style speech codes is justified by similar fears, that cries of “End the Fed” will somehow turn into “Wir müssen die Juden ausrotten!” And of course, we have the claims by innumerable leftists that the Tea Parties are actually white-power rallies. There is no engagement with the Right on the issues that they are actually talking about and organizing around.


Movement conservatives (that is, the Republican Party) find themselves in the conflicted position of vying for control of an atheistic State with shelves upon shelves of laws devoted to correcting the 'wrongs' of free society. They are trapped by the Left's dialectic: any attempts to roll back the State become cast in terms of racial struggle.

The ugly truth is that an inorganic institution must be destroyed, root and branch, if any 'conservative' ideals are to be realized at this point. Not exactly a vote-getting message after two hundred and twenty years.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lecture by Met. Jonah (OCA)

+Jonah spoke at Atlanta's Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation last night. UPDATE: This was apparently part of the OCA diocese's Parish Life Conference, and the local OCA parish does not have that kind of capacity.

It was an informal homily. He was in a cassock and gave no opening prayer. It was a good, dense talk. My middle-aged brain struggled to grasp all the points at that time of evening. It was also well-attended: probably 250 people with a number of clergy.

His topic was spiritual maturity and the centrality of prayer--and in particular the Jesus prayer--to that process. Again, dense stuff; I felt like a novitiate getting his first lecture on asceticism.

This process starts with the virtue of detachment, loosing yourself from the things of this world: passions, material goods, relationships (to the extent we define ourselves through them), and also the superficial 'trappings' of Orthodoxy. In his words, we need to 1) sit down, 2) shut up and 3) know that God is present. We begin by saying the Jesus prayer, but at some point this process must move from saying the Jesus prayer to praying in Jesus. In other words, as we say, "Come Holy Spirit" in the Liturgy, at some point we must be silent and acknowledge that the Holy Spirit has come.

He spoke at length on the nature of prayer, and the fact that it is not so much intercessory by us, as it is the Spirit praying within us. The process is one of apotheosis: we move from "me and God" to "only God." He exhorted the audience to do this for at least a few minutes every morning and evening, but no longer than twenty minutes without circumstances allowing that degree of rigor, and even then under the guidance of a spiritual father. As noted, in many ways it was a technical lecture, practically a primer on ascetic prayer.

The intended result of this daily spiritual discipline is a spiritual stability that nothing can shake, least of all the passions stirred by recent scandals and controversies (this was his only reference to governance issues). From this place of individual spiritual maturity, the community of the Church can become the transparent image of the Kingdom of God. This was another launching point, and he spoke at length on Christian community, describing a vision of the local Churches as places of unconditional love for all members. He referred to the efforts of an apparently prominent OCA cleric (I want to say 'Dmitri') to restore widespread practice of the kiss of peace in the Liturgy, and a number of clergy grunted their approval. He stressed that this vision of community in the local Church takes ascetic effort on the part of lay members. He reminded everyone that, quoting one of the Russian fathers, my neighbor is the criterion of my salvation.

A couple of highlights from the Q & A:

A young seminarian wanted to know what he thought of dreams as vehicles for divine inspiration. He agreed there have been instances of this, but that the demons can speak to us through dreams as well. The monastic fathers warned against them.

He regards Father Thomas Hopko as his biggest theological influence. I believe also that +Jonah remains deeply impressed by his monastic experience. There were frequent references to monastic practice and livelihood in his talk.

Asked what advice he would give parish priests, he again quoted a Russian father who told parents to pray for their children ten times as much as they speak to them. This prayer will become contagious through the community. His former abbot has prescribed a rule of two hours daily private prayer for the brothers in addition to their four to six hours of public prayer and worship.

He recommended all Orthodox study the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, as in really read it, take notes, get a commentary and track down the Scripture references, etc. He called it the sum of all Orthodox dogma.

He warned against compartmentalization. We are as much Orthodox and in Christ when we go forward to commune as we are (or should be) when we go into a business meeting. We must not divorce our spirituality from our day-to-day life: work can be sanctified. He knew of one congregant who went on a Holy Week pilgrimage and spent the whole time laying brick with the brothers. Our whole lives are to be made holy.

Many years, Master!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America, +Jonah ...

... will be speaking at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation here in Atlanta on July 22.

No idea what the subject matter or occasion is. I will attend and post my thoughts. Anybody else attending, please contact me via the e-mail on my profile page and let us meet.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Imagine there's ... no bailouts

Why the crisis hasn't ended, Prof. Joseph Keckeissen at mises.org

Excerpt:
Why hasn't the crisis ended as yet? It should have been all over with and forgotten by the first of last February. If so, the whole troubled world would have already issued a huge sigh of relief.

There would be no more impatient dilly-dallying on the part of investors, waiting for the government to decide who are going to be the recipients of the new trillion in handouts, and causing daily upsurges and downfalls in the unsettled Dow.

Assets would have fallen to their normal worth, the present discounted value of their future returns. No need to wrestle with mark-to-market account. No need for Sarbanes and Company to meddle and make newer and stiffer regulations. No need for new super controls.

Mr. Geithner wouldn't be stressed to invent new ways to cajole folks to contribute to the buyout of overvalued securitized junk. Nor would there be the least excuse for more G20s to be needled into bastardizing their overbloated monetary systems. Mr. Bernanke would have stopped acting the role of Santa Claus, distributing the government-invented moonshine to the denuded former greats of Wall Street.

The corpses of the erstwhile automobile empires would have breathed their last, their good assets now transferred to the hands of newer more responsible entrepreneurs. The prior executives would be moving over to Cheapside and brushing off their overalls, perhaps in line to join a new remodeled UAW, in search for some job where they couldn't mess things up any more.

The bankruptcy courts would be finishing up their exequies for the deceased former titans of the packaged debentures. The tombstones of the new economic cemetery would display the once great names of Fannie and Freddie, of Citi, of AIG, of Merrill Lynch, along with the hapless Lehman Brothers, interred several months before. And so many more financial cadavers would have been laid to rest, their memory duly to be forgotten, as perpetrators of a fake capitalism now buried and forgotten. Perhaps the cemetery could be economically located in an enlarged churchyard at Trinity Church at the head of Wall Street, to occupy the now excess real estate in the area and be a perpetual reminder that treason in the capitalist world will always be avenged.

Washington would finally be silenced, even if the Fed were not yet duly junked in the process, and the Treasury's overbearance would be bridled as the rest of the uneconomic trash was being flushed out of the system.

The Case Shiller indices would have completed their downfall to a level that future homeowners could devote the traditional 30 percent of their money incomes towards purchasing their long-wanted love nests. New families would be rushing in to fill the vacant home sites.


By the way, Professor Keckeissen appears to cut quite the distinguished figure, as well as being a member of a Catholic Order. Wonder how he ended up teaching in Guatemala.

Goldman Sachs: thanks for all the free money

More from Matt Taibbi, at LewRockwell.com.

So what's wrong with Goldman posting $3.44 billion in second-quarter profits, what's wrong with the company so far earmarking $11.4 billion in compensation for its employees? What's wrong is that this is not free-market earnings but an almost pure state subsidy.

Last year, when Hank Paulson told us all that the planet would explode if we didn't fork over a gazillion dollars to Wall Street immediately, the entire rationale not only for TARP but for the whole galaxy of lesser-known state crutches and safety nets quietly ushered in later on was that Wall Street, once rescued, would pump money back into the economy, create jobs, and initiate a widespread recovery. This, we were told, was the reason we needed to pilfer massive amounts of middle-class tax revenue and hand it over to the same guys who had just blown up the financial world. We'd save their asses, they'd save ours. That was the deal.

It turned out not to happen that way. We constructed this massive bailout infrastructure, and instead of pumping that free money back into the economy, the banks instead simply hoarded it and ate it on the spot, converting it into bonuses. So what does this Goldman profit number mean? This is the final evidence that the bailouts were a political decision to use the power of the state to redirect society's resources upward, on a grand scale. It was a selective rescue of a small group of chortling jerks who must be laughing all the way to the Hamptons every weekend about how they fleeced all of us at the very moment the game should have been up for all of them.

Now, the counter to this charge is, well, hey, they made that money fair and square, legally, how can you blame them? They're just really smart!

Bullshit. One of the most hilarious lies that has been spread about Goldman of late is that, since it repaid its TARP money, it's now free and clear of any obligation to the government – as if that was the only handout Goldman got in the last year. Goldman last year made your average AFDC mom on food stamps look like an entrepreneur. Here's a brief list of all the state aid that is hiding behind that $3.44 billion number they announced the other day. In no particular order: ... (continued at link)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Matt Taibbi is a Jew-hating Arab

Somebody call Homeland Security.

doubleplusanti-semite:

The last time I heard something similar was a few years ago, when Debbie Schlussel, a severely dimwitted Detroit-based right-wing pundit, railed against my supposed Arabness after I wrote an article about the Lebanese population in Dearborn, Michigan. I wrote to her to let her know that I’m actually Irish and Filipino, and not at all an Arab, but never got a response. This time the charge is a little different, as several writers complained that my article was “a rehash of every classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theory” and “a pale copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The evidence for these charges seems to be as follows. One, I used the word “tribe” somewhere near the end of the piece. Two, the term “blood-funnel” was used (one person also hinted that the use of a squid image was somehow anti-Semitic, but I was not entirely clear what was being referred to there). Three, I “singled out” Goldman and failed to level similar charges at “less Jewish firms” (yes, one letter-writer actually used that phrase) like Morgan-Stanley.

A few points in response to this preposterous argument. Firstly I’m going to make a blanket denial and just say that the question of religion was so far outside my thinking while writing this piece that I never even considered it. If this issue had even entered my head so much as once, I probably would have been more careful, and it is remotely possible that I might not then have used a distantly suggestive word like “tribe,” if only to avoid having to answer charges like this. But I didn’t consider it, for the simple reason that it’s completely ridiculous and not at all relevant.

For one thing, while Goldman’s founders a gazillion years ago were apparently Jewish, I seriously doubt that religion plays any role at all in the makeup of the modern Goldman. I don’t have any way of knowing this, but I would be shocked if it weren’t true that a majority of Goldman’s current employees were not Jewish. And whatever the reality is, I don’t care; it’s not a concern of mine and we didn’t make it a concern in the article.

If anything it seems to me that what defines these Wall Street characters is not religion but the absence of it: even a hardened atheist like myself comes away from the experience of reading about the last two decades of Wall Street history shocked by that community’s complete and utter Godlessness and moral insanity. What I’m saying in other words is that if any of these clowns actually had a real religious sensibility, we wouldn’t be in this mess — and that’s coming from someone who believes all religions to be inherently ridiculous. For Goldman now to hide behind the cloak of Jewish victimhood is both more obnoxious and less convincing than Marion Barry wearing a dashiki after the indictment.


Read it all at the link.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Regarding the See of Antioch and its North American eparch

Thoughts from a Lebanese archimandrite, via Notes on Arab Orthodoxy.

Pastoral Care and the Crisis of Power!

Excerpt:

The question of the diaspora, especially North America, is today in our opinion the foundation of the current problem and what brought to light the intellectual divide which had long remained hidden. The status of any of the Orthodox churches, the See of Antioch included, is not sound there, either from an ecclesiological or a canonical standpoint. By what right do we hold on to the dependence of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America on us? That eparchy is no longer at the stage of just being sent out. We helped it during its beginnings, but now it is mature, and more mature than us here in its theology and its learning and its organization. By what right, then, is it assumed that it should be under our care? Is it because some of its people have left us? So what? Generations and generations have grown up there for years and the people in those lands have become American. Is it because there is a sentimental heritage which ties us to them and them to us, or because there is something like nationalist feelings which hold us to them and them to us so that they must be subject to our local ecclesial structure? This has no relation in any case to ecclesiological thought nor to the ancient ecclesiological practice which has come down to us from the Apostles and saints. Thus the practical theology which we use in this matter is faulty and unacceptable if we were to be fair and correct.

And what is to be said about the canonical disorders that we’re up to our ears in over there?

The situation of all the Orthodox eparchies dependent on mother churches in North America is uncanonical. There is one Orthodox church in those lands whose situation is sound and canonical: the American Orthodox Church (OCA). This alone is independent and autocephalous and this is de-facto recognized by the other Orthodox eparchies. Its recognition, formal or implicit, by the eparchies depending on mother churches is clear and frank confirmation that the status of these eparchies is uncanonical and unsound. If these eparchies and mother churches on which they depend were to be logical with themselves and consistent with Orthodox ecclesiological and canonical thought, in the true sense of the word, then they would belong to the OCA or would at least enter into an understanding with it and the thorny crisis of the Orthodox presence there, theologically and canonically, would end. The simplest position and the most sound is for us to leave the Orthodox in North America to themselves and to encourage them to arrange their affairs themselves! We and the other mother churches are the ones who are complicating their affairs!


In all humility, I offer that a united and autocephalous American Church can only strengthen worldwide Orthodoxy, and not the least in its homelands. If the Church in America is ever to be more than a few ethnic ghettoes and redoubts for idiosyncratic converts, we really must get our house in order.

The Ochlophobist has a number of comments on the Antiochian situation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's a dog's world. Literally.

From Razib Khan at takimag.com.

A Dog's World

Excerpt from this brief essay:

The take-home message here is that the mind is not an amorphous general mass. Rather, it exhibits domain-specific modularities. Language comes to mind immediately as a classic case and serves as a model for psychologists who wish to argue for massive modularity. The human ability to learn language quickly and easily is simply not an extension of our general intelligence. Those who lack this capability are pathologically deficient. In contrast, attempts to teach chimps and gorillas language suffer the problem that they seem unable to generalize syntax. This is not simply because of lack of intelligence; small children who are low in general intelligence have much greater powers in this domain than adult chimpanzees. Another example of a core human competency is facial recognition. Like language particular forms of brain damage can actually destroy the innate human ability to recognize faces immediately. It so happens that the ability to recognize humans visually is not restricted to humans, 90% of dogs are able to fix upon a photograph of their owner in a line-up. In contrast, only 50% of cats are able to complete this task.

This mosaic construction of our minds is almost certainly the result of the fact that evolution does not see beyond its nose. The problems which arise from this are documented entertainingly in Kluge, in which the cognitive psychologist Gary Marcus outlines the various deficiencies of our suboptimal solutions to evolutionary pressures. But I come not to bury evolution but praise it, as the example of the domestic dog shows the power of natural selection to reshape a lineage in the eyes of its owner. In short dogs are ideally adapted to the ecology of Homo sapiens. Not only do they exhibit mammalian neoteny, which seems to trigger normal reflexes of affection and playfulness, but despite atrophying in many of the skills necessary to survive in the wild they’ve developed abilities to comprehend the mentality of another species.


There is an apocryphal quote attributed to both James Watson and Francis Crick that if you want to learn about human evolution, don't waste your time on chimps; study dogs instead. We have gone from canis lupus to canis familiaris in about ten to fifteen thousand years, as opposed to the millions of years for so many other species. The selection pressures on dogs are huge.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Biggest. Hoax. Ever.

Or so claims geologist Ian Pilmer.

From Meet The Man Who Has Exposed The Great Climate Change Con Trick:

'Eco-guilt is a first-world luxury. It’s the new religion for urban populations which have lost their faith in Christianity. The IPCC report is their Bible. Al Gore and Lord Stern are their prophets.’


A couple of questions I've never seen addressed:

1. What is the 'optimum' level of atmospheric CO2?

2. If the glaciers are indeed 'melting,' then that means they have absorbed heat from elsewhere. Have these numbers been correlated? In other words, the 'two degree' increase that we hear all about would have to be the net after absorption by ice caps and glaciers. What was the 'gross,' and can the amount of man-made CO2 support that degree of increase?

Not being a scientist, and armed with nothing more than skepticism for perennial problems that all seem to require the same solution (taxation and regulation), perhaps Prof. Pilmer and, a fortiori, myself, are full of it. But I do intend to buy this book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

McIlhenny's Tabasco Sauce


Telegraph Online - via LewRockwell.com

Greatest seasoning since salt.

There is a larger point here, and that is the ability of Anglo/Anglo-American culture to adopt and incorporate as her own the best offerings from so many different cultures: chutney, curry, tonic water, chiles, cornbread, tobacco, lacrosse; it's a long list.

Pro-environment, Pro-human, Pro-nuclear

Wind or Nuclear? - from mises.org

Excerpt:

Energy is like a river; it exists in two ways: flows and stores.

When you store energy, you create a dam to capture it.

What environmentalists call "renewable energy" is really just the stored energy of the sun.

In actuality, there's no such thing as "renewable energy": all energy, even the sun, is limited.

Fossil fuels are energy stores as well — specifically, they are stored solar energy, a process that takes millions of years — and they are highly concentrated, ten times more so than, for instance, wood.

In terms of wind and raw solar energy, the flow is exceptionally diluted: solar is ten to fifty times less concentrated than fossil fuel. When you can't concentrate it, then the only way to harvest it is to use more and more land. That's the limiting factor for both sun and wind energy.

T. Boone Pickens's now-infamous plan would require 1,200 square miles for a single power plant.

Compare that to nuclear, which would require only one square mile.

Coal is extraordinarily abundant — we'll never run out — and pound-for-pound contains twice as much energy as wood. Coal is a concentrated storehouse of energy.

Octane molecules in gasoline, however, are even more concentrated. In fact, they're the densest store of carbon energy we've ever discovered. Pound-for-pound, gas possesses four times as much energy as coal. There's a popular misconception today that gasoline is inefficient and wasteful. Nothing could be more inaccurate.

Gas molecules are not only by far the densest form of carbon energy we've ever discovered; they're also easy to transfer because they're fluid. These are two of the greatest reasons we've adopted gasoline.

Nuclear, on the other hand, is something else entirely. The public hasn't even begun to grasp nuclear energy ...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Some thoughts on the State

The State is presently moving into its terminal phase: anarcho-tyranny. That is, the State is both unable and unwilling to defend its law abiding citizenry from criminals (anarchy). Indeed, it has become hopelessly infiltrated with them, and devotes itself to prosecuting non-crimes such as discrimination, inequality of outcome, and the sale and use of certain drugs (tyranny).

Even its military is just another bureaucratic constituency, by now far removed from its original mission of defending the nation's territorial and cultural integrity.

The fact that people still vote for the State's continued existence would seem solely due to the perceived lack of an alternative. But as the State and its constituencies proceed with their last official acts of looting the treasury and absconding, demand for the services formerly provided by the State will generate supply, just like demand does for everything else.

What form will these successor institutions take? Perhaps they will coalesce along the tribal and credal lines of existing pre-State structures. Dissident former employees of the State will have an initial competitive advantage; Blackwater USA is a template for this. These institutions will easily provide the 'public goods' formerly monopolized by the State. They will negotiate with each other for uniform laws and sojourners' rights for their subscribers. Over time, they will evolve into hereditary institutions: neo-feudalism, and it is coming whether we are ready for it or not.

The State has previously justified its existence by maintaining the Nation's geographic redoubt. But with technological advances in travel and communication, people find it easier simply to carry their nation with them wherever they go. This is a key development in the State and Nation becoming distinct concepts in popular thought. With the evolution away from a land-based political model, the State loses a crucial justification for its existence.

Triangular conflict

(This is a short essay posted by a friend at a forum that no longer exists. I have only edited for form.)

Historically, the great conflict of the West was bipolar: Christianity vs. Islam.

This simplicity no longer obtains. The conflict is now triangular: Christianity vs. Islam vs. Atheism.

This third participant is a newcomer and operates mostly behind other labels: secularism, democracy, globalism. It is also a Trojan horse for Zionism. It has the power structures of the West to itself.

It should be obvious that each of the three views each of the other as a mortal enemy. They can coexist but they do not make peace. The relative serenity of American existence after the War Between the States made us think that Atheism can coexist with Christianity. It cannot. Milder forms of Atheism, such as the Masonic Lodge and democratic secularism, can coexist with milder forms of Christianity such as mainstream Protestantism temporarily. This is all the American Experiment means. It is a time limited one, and that time is running out.

In a triangular conflict each side rationally seeks tactical alliance with one of the other. That is because each of two sides can profit from putting a squeeze on the third. Thus we see the following:

1. The Atheist who despises the Muslim for his selfless dedication and fear of God finds commonality of goals with the Christian who wants to push back Islam.

2. The Christian understands that after the Atheist has reckoned with the Muslim it will be his turn. Thus the Christian sees commonality of goals with the Muslim in rights of religion in the public square, pro-life, and anti-sodomy. The pro-life movement has its best ally in Islam and its worst enemy with the atheist State.

3. The Muslim knows that the atheist State requires an influx of culturally inassimilable minorities to justify its socialist demographic and taxation policies. The Muslim by donning a mask of moderation can plead to the atheist State for protection, while the State can point to the Muslim's presence to de-Christianize its public policy. This is the role for every secular leftist whose principal fear is that one day the Religious Right will win all elections and take the Right to Choose away. This is also the role for all self-serving immigrants, Muslim or otherwise, who fear mass deportations, and for Muslims who do their part in the jihad simply by populating the West with themselves.

Being triangular, the present structure is inherently unstable, and like all unstable structures must eventually settle at an inclination of repose.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Arabic Orthodox chant

From the monastery at Hamatoura, Lebanon. A prayer to the Theotokos.



Thanks to Notes On Arab Orthodoxy

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gnosticism

From this thread at Steve Sailer's blog, discussing a Swedish couple's decision to keep their child's "gender" a secret from him/her.

One poster asks whether it's yet time to root for the jihadis (i.e., Sweden's burgeoning Muslim population). To which an anonymous poster replies,
Yes, how ironic to think that in 50 years Sweden will be religiously Muslim and culturally patriarchal.

Liberalism, socialism, cultural Marxism, deconstructionism, postwhateverism, or what ever you want to call it, is a modern Gnostic religion, which sees the human biology, the very reality of the human body, as evil. Evil because it is real and material and innate. What the new religion calls sin is the very acceptance of reality, biological or physical, rather than its misuse. Reality must be transformed, transgressed, subverted, converted, deconstructed, endlessly, relentlessly. This is the formula of Gnostic totalitarianism, both personal and public, driven by the world-denying will-to-power of the enlightened ones.

Both traditional Christianity and Darwinism are on the side of conservatism, because they are both anti-Gnostic. Gnosticism, powered by progressive Gnostic elites, is the terminal state of decaying civilizations.


Couldn't agree more.

Western liberalism is on a collision course with the illiberal cultures it is importing. When that day comes I'll have to say--with all the irony I can muster-- it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Goldman Sachs responds to Matt Taibbi

Sort of.

On Giving Goldman A Chance by Matt Taibbi

Excerpt:

Actually I did contact Goldman and gave the bank every opportunity to respond to the factual issues in the article. I’m bringing this up because their decision not to comment on any of those questions was actually pretty interesting.

We figured ahead of time that Goldman was probably not going to respond to many of the allegations in the article, since its MO in the past with regard to hostile journalists has usually either been to make bald denials or to simply avoid comment (that’s when they’re not using the carpet-bomb litigation technique, as in the case of GoldmanSachs666.com). So what I decided to do the first time I approached them was to send a short list of simple factual questions. If the bank decided to engage us and educate us as to its point of view on these simple questions, we would send more queries and expand the dialogue.

Given this, I tried to make that first list of questions as basic as possible. I asked if Goldman would have turned a profit in Q1 2009 if it hadn’t orphaned the month of December 2008. Then I asked if Goldman had made changes to its underwriting standards during the internet boom years; if Goldman’s position was still that the steep rise in oil prices last year was due to normal changes in supply and demand; and if it could explain its 1991 request to the CFTC to have its subsidiary J. Aron classified as a physical hedger on the commodities market. Citing various sources, I also noted that some people had complained that its move to short the mortgage market in 2006 even as it was selling those same types of instruments proved that the bank knew the weakness of its mortgage products, and asked if the bank had an answer for that. And I asked if the bank supported cap-and-trade legislation, and if it was fair to say (as we planned to in the piece) that the bank would capitalize financially if such legislation was passed.

I intentionally put a lot of yes/no questions on that list. If the underlying thinking behind any of those questions was faulty, it would have been easy enough for them to say so and to educate us as to the truth. Instead, here is the response that we got:

“Your questions are couched in such a way that presupposes the conclusions and suggests the people you spoke with have an agenda or do not fully understand the issues.”


You have to have swallowed half a lifetime of carefully-worded p.r. statements to see the message written between the lines here. That this is a non-denial denial is obvious, but what’s more notable here is that they didn’t stop with just a flat “no comment,” which they easily could have done. No, they had to go a little further than that and – and this is pure Goldman, just outstanding stuff – make it clear that both I and my sources are simply not as smart as they are and don’t understand what we’re talking about. So the rough translation here is, “No comment, but if you were as smart as us, you wouldn’t be asking these questions.”