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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Nativity

A blessed and happy Feast to all. Christ is born! God became Man and dwelt on Earth.



I have posted this before but this rendition of the Coventry Carol always moves me.



A single set of short verses from an entire medieval pageant of English Mystery Plays is all that is left from history. That's how it works out sometimes. I am hearing it more often in stores and on radio. Three years ago I had never heard of this carol.

Here is a Nativity hymn from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church:



This Church was granted autocephaly by the Copts in 1959. The Chalcedonian/Non-Chalcedonian issue continues to divide us. However, the debate is ongoing over how much of the dispute was or is semantic and logistical. This is the sort of mess we Orthodox need to sort out for ourselves before undertaking more ambitious projects, but that's just my opinion. Anyway, this particular video illustrates true Orthodox mission: the Church takes her people as she finds them, revealing to the extant culture the Truth hidden in its pre-Christian solstices and cycles.

It is a day for family and feast, so I'll just post this other selection from last year.

Today is born of a Virgin He who holds the whole Creation in His hand.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

From +John X of Antioch

Via Notes On Arab Orthodoxy:

[Excerpt:] My fathers and brothers, I ask for your prayers and supplications so that hand in hand we will make God's Church of Antioch a fitting image of the Bride of Christ and the Church that we all know she is. ... We all realize that our people are are a good people and that their service is sweet for our hearts. We are from this country. Our soil is a part of us and we are a part of it. I say to you, let us remember the prayer of our Lord to His Father, "Make them one as We are one." Let us be one, so that we may pastor our people, so that we may strive to make our Church that Church that is adorned in a white bridal garment that testifies to our Lord, so that people will see this Church and praise our Father who is glorified in heaven...

Blood and soil stuff, by golly. I can't imagine an Archbishop of Canterbury saying anything like that much less, say, the US Episcopals' presiding bishop.

Further to my comment in the +Bartholomew thread, Antioch's newly elected Patriarch articulates what it means to be the local expression of Christ's universal Church. A people in their geographic redoubt accept the Church and over generations are wedded to the Church as the Church to Christ, an indivisible part of a particular people, place and culture, and eventually standing as a unique and autocephalous expression of Christ's Church in the global Communion.

Until America (or any other locale) can show successive, sustainable generations baptized, married and buried in the Church, over time having the people, the culture, the land conjoined to the Church as the Church to Christ, the Orthodox Church in America will remain a diaspora mission, regarded by outsiders as no more than one particularly idiosyncratic (and not really American) option among many.

Having Metropolitans who are essentially sojourners, always subject to recall back to the authentic place--the one with the blood and soil in it--is probably not helpful to this evolution. Of course, this is a two-way street. If America or other locales do not consider nationhood as befitting them, then they really are not sufficient soil for their own Church, and are best left as missions.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

+Bartholomew seeks to restart ecumenical progress

Via Byzantine, Texas
CONSTANTINOPLE (OCL) – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is attempting to inaugurate a new path and new dynamics of rapprochement and reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church in conjunction with the Theological Dialogue working towards the Eucharistic Union of the Churches...
The patriarch revealed that “our Holy Orthodox Church finds itself in the delightful position of announcing that the preparation of its Holy and Great Synod has almost been completed, that it is in its final stages and will be convoked in the near future. It will pronounce upon the issue, among others, of the dialogues of Orthodoxy with the other Churches and it will take the fitting decisions in unity and authenticity so that we may progress toward the ‘unity of faith’ in the communion of the Holy Spirit in the surety that ‘To lovers of the truth nothing can be put before God and hope in Him’ (Basil the Great, To Eustathius the Physician, Letter 151, PG 32.608B; NPNF2-8:604).”

From my seat way, way in the furthest spot of the furthest pew in the very back row of Orthodoxy, this seems terribly naive and premature. First, Rome does not need ecumenicism. Rome has declared her universal jurisdiction and acts like it, with her Eastern Rites and established, august dioceses across the globe. Rome need not cede an inch on a single point of doctrine, so why would she. Second, Orthodox ecclesiology is a train wreck, with its multiple jurisdictions and seeming inability to grapple with the reality of the modern secular state.

Tend to our own flock first. Is the Orthodox Church in America autocephalous or not? If so, what is ROCOR, and why? What is Antioch, the Greeks, plus a few others I'm surely forgetting and why? Are we missions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate or still the Churches in diaspora? (Ask that question on Rorate Caeli and let me know what they say. I'll save you the time and tell you it won't be either of the foregoing.)

Maybe these questions are on the Great Synod's agenda but surely they have to be answered first. Then we can start thinking about ecumenicism.

God's will be done, and these are just a sinner's rantings.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bruce Charlton is an angry man

An angry man indeed, for a godless, narcissistic and destructive trend is loose in the land. I speak, obviously, of...

weightlifting. (Via Vox Popoli).

Now, apparently this is qualified by intensive and extreme weight-training. From the comments, "moderate" weight-training is apparently kosher but I'm still not sure at what point a weightlifter is beyond the pale. Probably, we can agree these guys are narcissistic freaks but Bruce doesn't seem to grasp the distinction between bodybuilding and weightlifting either. Cardio seems to have escaped Bruce's critical eye, and it generates at least as much degenerative joint disease. It's also not terribly effective for a lot of obese people who (1) often lack the frames for effective running, and (2) are generally training their bodies to store fat.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but the overall tone strikes me as hostile to the very idea of weightlifting. I think the more important point to draw is a broad hostility to any expression of masculine strength. Contrary to Bruce's point, it is this hostility which is actually gnostic and anti-human, as in the popular culture's implausible butt-kicking babes and fat-acceptance. In the political realm, dominated by comfortable, aging Boomers, any form of male energy triggers the panic button, as with the Republicans' hysterical response to the Ron Paul movement. The lisping, effeminate Lindsey Graham, famed scold of angry white guys is by contrast considered a Republican icon.

"Weight-training" seems an odd target for traditionalist ire, given the modern epidemic of obesity, manifest to an appalling degree in Christian churches.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Add money and stir

Macro-economics seem largely devoted to coming up with justifications for why micro-economics don't apply to certain aggregates. I’m not sure why people who agree you can’t mess with the supply-demand curve for bread think you can with money and credit. But then, I’m not an economist and they assure me they know what they’re doing.

Exhibit A.

Here's the article at The American Conservative that's got academic economists like Scott Sumner so upset - How the Rich Rule - and my comment at TAC (spoiler - the befogged readers at TAC don't get it either).

'Monetary policy' is important; the elites know how important, hence the uproar whenever some nobody like Sheldon Richman starts criticizing the Great And Good Fed. Please click the links for some contrarian perspective.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

And so it begins

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday that intelligence about Syrian chemical weapons "raises serious concerns" that the regime of Bashar Assad may use them against the country's own citizens.

"The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching very closely," Panetta said. "And the president of the United States has made it very clear, there will be consequences — there will be consequences if the Assad regime makes the terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their own people."

His comments came a day after U.S. officials told NBC News that the Syrian military had loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped from dozens of fighter-bombers. The defense chief, who was speaking at a news conference at the Department of Veterans Affairs, would not elaborate on what the potential consequences would be.

Via Ad Orientem.

The Nobel Peace Prize President, using the same CIA, the same Defense Department, the same game plan as his predecessor is laying the groundwork for war in the Christian holy land of Syria. The die is cast from this point. Syria is already being brutalized by sanctions. A chemical weapon will be detonated, and the US will be off and running on its third war since 2001. The rebellion, financed by the repulsive Wahhabist Gulf Arabs, is hopelessly stalemated. Its protagonists are Sunni rabble and fanatical thugs drawn from Chechnya, Afghanistan, the Saudi peninsula and north Africa. Culturally, the Syrians themselves are more Greek and prefer house parties and red wine to firefights in the streets. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, it has apparently been decided that the US will step up to the plate. The Shia will be slaughtered, Christians--the lucky ones--will flee and Syria will be bombed back into the Stone Age. A Sunni puppet will be installed and billions of dollars will be extracted from US taxpayers for an occupation that advances no American interest.

May God have mercy on us, and He won't.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Stupid Party

From iSteve: GOP announces foolproof plan for winning elections:
House Republicans still smarting from their poor showing among Hispanics in the presidential election are planning a vote next week on immigration legislation that would both expand visas for foreign science and technology students...
QED, Republicans can't even pander to Hispanics correctly since, as Sailer points out, it's not like Silicon Valley and the universities are clamoring for all those Meso-American Ph.D.'s to cash in on their patents and Nobels up here. Of course, as one commenter notes, Congress is doubtless just getting warmed up.

This "natural conservative" bloc of Hispanics voted for Obama at rates of 70% and more (around 60% in Florida, where the Hispanics are more Cuban). I wouldn't count on Hispanics jamming the county offices to register Republican once they hit US soil. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say Republicans will never win the presidency again. They split the white vote by roughly 55-45, everybody else is a Democratic lock, and that's that. Republicans are done as a national party.

(Speaking of which, this quadrennial exercise apparently cost six billion dollars, and if you're a Democrat, the only places you really have to bother campaigning are Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. All that for them? Remind me again why I should vote.)

Now is the time for some serious Republican thinking outside the box, right? Just like all that neo-conservative soul searching after John McCain had his tent packed by 8 p.m. on election night in 2008. True to form, the party's Deep Thinkers have responded by weeping great tears over their failure to prostrate sufficiently before Hispanics and everybody else who never votes for them.

To the extent they remain the "conservative" party (highly doubtful, and definitely not libertarian!--don't even get Lindsey Graham started), Republicans should be giving thought to the war outside electoral politics. The Democrats adopted Gramscian methods early on, and have been incubating Democratic voters and opinion-makers in the academy, government and the clergy since at least the 1950's. Over at Mangan's (where no respectable Republican would be seen), the idea is raised, why not defund the Left?

1. Check rapacious intellectual property law. Big IT, Big Music, Big Publishing, Big Media and Big Hollywood, all anti-conservative and more often than not, anti-American, are subsidized heavily by ridiculous patents, near-perpetual copyright, draconian anti-piracy, etc.

2. Make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy. A thousand gender studies departments expire. Tenured Marxists discover their true value as Starbucks baristas and vet-techs. We'll all be better off.

3. Unbundle Big Cable. MSNBC, the anti-male Lifetime, Oxygen, WE, SyFy and others can chase female viewers on their own merits. For that matter, nationwide wi-fi, so men can free up disposable income to browse their favorite hate-sites.

4. Tax the rich. They are globalist, fund huge, toxic, tax-exempt foundations, and absolutely despise the American middle class.

5. Regulate Wall Street. And the Fed. Open market operations and the primary dealers network are the reason government can rack up trillions of dollars in debt-financing for destructive social engineering schemes. Let Wall Street crumble--you take public monies, you can dance to the public's tune.

Of coure, it won't happen. That would be sharp practice, unfair, not cricket, not Queensbury-rules, kill the economy, hate, whatever.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tyler Cowen's feelings are hurt

Catalonia wants to secede
He taught me Ph.d Micro I at Harvard, so it’s too bad he wants to wreck both Spain and Europe, and for so little in return. Didn’t one of his theorems suggest this was a bad idea? It’s not as if Catalonia is treated like Tibet. (Haven’t I spent a few nice days walking around Barcelona in my time? Didn’t Air Genius Gary Leff get a decent meal at El Bulli? Didn’t they once make a young people’s movie about the place in which no one has to do any work?) Don’t we have bigger problems to worry about? How easily does he think negotiations for separation can go, especially with entire eurozone deals at stake and a Spanish history of sending in troops? He mentions that the territory is subjected to «humillación constante» de España. Maybe he’s been misquoted, but from what I see I take this as a paradigm example of how a really smart person can be taken in by rather primitive tribal arguments.

The discussion in the comments is surprisingly rational, with no shortage of people pointing out that maybe culture and language matter more to people than the mathematical models of rootless cosmopolitan economists. Nobody's even used the "R" word yet; contrast that with what you hear when secession is raised in the US.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Church and Nationality

From Energetic Procession.

The problem:
The present situation in the UK and the US, as well as other places outside the established regions of Orthodox Churches, is rather complicated. The long established local religious communities in these places are heterodox and as such are not in unity with the Catholic Church, that is the Orthodox Churches in communion the Patriarch of Constantinople. Thus, the Orthodox emigrants to the UK or to the US did not have preexisting places of worship nor local hierarchy to establish such places. These had to be provided from their home regions. Sadly, due to lack of coordination between Orthodox Patriarchs, we have the situation of a number of hierarchs establishing churches for immigrants in the UK and the US. This situation has led to a neglect of the territorial definition of churches and to definition along national/ethnic categories, which is contrary to the teaching of Christ. We need to repent of this. It is suggested that the only way forward is to appoint and recognise a local territorially defined hierarchal structure for the UK or US with its own synod, although overseen by one of the present Patriarchs. Also, this hierarchy must attempt to convert the heterodox back to Orthodoxy and allow the local peoples to take ownership of the church within their own territory.

The solution:
The use of vestments could be helpful to distinguish the hierarchy of the UK or the US from the hierarchies elsewhere. This is not in order to separate them but to highlight that the churches in the UK and the US are not part of other national churches, although most members within the churches in the UK and the US may be descended from these other nations. The churches in the UK and US should be seen as local churches in their own right. A distinction of vestments helps to provide visual recognition of this local hierarchy and to break it from being considered part of a nationally defined group. Yet, in terms of being orthodox, the vestments need to be consistent with the traditional form of vestments used through the history of the Church.

To enable the choice of vestments, even though most religious groups in the UK and the US are heterodox, some of their heritage comes from an orthodox background and maintains orthodox standards manifested in the cultural context of the UK and the US. It would be wise for the orthodox hierarchy not to impose an exterior manner of dress upon the UK and the US but rather to take what is already within that region consistent with Orthodox Tradition and establish it for use of orthodox Christians in that region. This would allow the local peoples to have greater identity and ownership of the church in their territory, rather than the church arriving as a foreign institution imposing its own national cultures as well as bringing orthodox Tradition. While it is important that each region or nation is established in the international community and participates in customs that are required for relationships across this international community, otherwise the local community becomes isolated and estranged, at the same time each region or nation should participate without losing the diversity of its own customs, where these do not go contrary to the international community. In orthodox terms the common customs of the international community are given in Holy Tradition, which is the common way of life in Christ as Christ that unites us with Christ, yet the regional customs are maintained that of self-rule in synergy with Christ as maintaining God’s image as man with the ability to govern. This governance is expressed in the diversity of customs within Tradition. For one national church to impose in entirety of its customs on another nation is to undermine and deny the self-rule of that nation thus denying the image of God in its people and the synergy of the relationship of God and man in deification.

Unfortunately, we are well beyond the point where distinctive vestments will make much difference. The Orthodox Western Rite is one attempt at a way forward, but has been problematic so far. We are a long, long way down the road from the pre-schism Church in the West. It is probably futile to try and fumble our way back at this point.

The root of the problem is that the UK and US no longer really have a national ethnic identity or traditional customs to offer a missionary Church. To the extent any vestigial expressions of ethnic identity and culture remain, they are condemned and actively deconstructed as racist relics. This is hardly just the fault of the immigrants. They are what they are, and there is much not to like of modern, heterodox Anglo culture. It can also be said that this is the Anglo's universalist, protestant creed coming back to bite them. Having abandoned local, organic culture for globalism and universal democracy, the Anglo's cannot now be heard to complain when the rest of the world takes them up on their offers. A dysfunctional people who can't reproduce themselves will be replaced.

Thus, the UK and US now find themselves as headquarters of global trade and finance even as their founding stock are increasingly strangers in their own lands. The adaptive strategy of their intelligentsia has been to embrace this highly mobile, progressivist worldview and they are doing extremely well by it; their less-talented countrymen, not so much.

Historically, the autocephalous Churches evolved from their missionary status to national institutions wedded to their cultures through an inter-generational procession of grandparents, parents, children and extended family with no conception of the Church as anything but Orthodox faith and praxis. A country of present-centered nuclear families (and single moms) where "church" is just a matter of denominational preference is awfully thin soil. (Matthew 13:5-6).

There is no Divine mandate by which the Church will be established at any particular place. If the Anglosphere (or the Middle East) ultimately rejects the Church, she will shake the dust off her feet and depart, and God will judge. (Matthew 10:13-15).

P.S. The linked thread includes a very interesting comment about immigration from an Athonite monk, Patrick. National identity is weighing on a lot of people's minds in a lot of different spheres these days.

Monk Patrick's biography:
A hierodeacon of the Orthodox Church in New Zealand (Ecumenical Patriarchate) presently living on Mt Athos gaining some experience living the theology of Sts. Maximus the Confessor and St Gregory Palamas before returning to serve in New Zealand. Also, presently completing a Master’s degree in Theology (Orthodox Studies) at the University of Wales (Lampeter) with Dr Andreas Andreopoulos, who previously studied with Fr Andrew Louth. A member of the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, England and spiritual child of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. Previous academic qualifications are degrees in Mathematics and Law from New Zealand. A convert in 1996 from an evangelical protestant background with earlier experience in charismatic/pentecostal churches.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Episcopal transformation

Episcopal Church Takes Action Against the Bishop and Diocese of South Carolina, from Titus OneNine, via Ad Orientem.

The US Episcopal church has apparently deposed the bishop of South Carolina in its crusade to scour all conservative Christian theology from its aging, ex-hippy ranks and complete its transformation into a unitarian book club. I no longer have a dog in the fight, other than academic curiosity about what might have been had +Rowan decided to act like an actual Archbishop and tell the US church it was no longer welcome at Lambeth.

In the Orthodox Church there would of course be no question: the locks would be changed and the dissenters would be out the door, never to be heard from again. But the US Episcopalians never had a 'national' church. The diocesan bishops were the ultimate hierarchs, and elected one of their membership to preside. There is no equivalent "metropolitan" or "archbishop" in the US denomination. Following the trajectory of most human organizations, the national representative bodies sloppily passed a sloppily drafted canon purporting to acquire title to all Episcopal parishes. Several state courts, with their constitutional wariness about getting involved in church fights, have upheld the canon against their own property laws. Sad, but inevitable from the moment Henry VIII left Rome. Apostasy begets apostasy.

The reaction of many conservatives has been to restyle themselves as "Anglicans." ("Episcopal" was the term the US church came up with after after the American Revolution.) Historically, the "Anglican" Church simply meant the church of the English nation. As modern Americans (and the English themselves) now recoil in horror from the idea of an ethnic church, they have detached the term from its organic roots, and are crafting a new doctrine for the purpose of binding their communion and calling it "Anglicanism."


Unfortunately, the conservatives will find this a slender reed. Is there a checklist of beliefs? Is it dogmatic? What is their ecclesiology? In a few years, I expect they will see the schismatic process play out again, with differences over female clerics, Eucharist with non-Anglicans, marriage and divorce, Anglo-Catholic beliefs and other issues.

What's really happening in Syria

The second Mohammedan conquest, from the LRC blog.

The New York Times has finally reported what many watching the Syria insurgency have noticed all along: US-facilitated weapons shipments are ending up in the hands of radical jihadists. Of course while getting those facts right, the NYT, blinded as it is by ideology, gets the conclusion wrong. The Times has for some time been pushing the line that the US must act fast militarily in Syria lest the mythical "people's uprising" be hikacked by radicals. In short, they have been — surprise — distorting facts to propagandize for war. The NYT line is that US "inaction" on Syria is leading to the radicalization of the rebels. Earlier this month the Times reported/opined that:

"Many Saudi and Qatari officials now fear that the fighting in Syria is awakening deep sectarian animosities and, barring such intervention, could turn into an uncontrollable popular jihad with consequences far more threatening to Arab governments than the Afghan war of the 1980s."

Now we get the news from the Times that:

"'The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,' said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry."

Then the Times pushes its propagandistic conclusion to color the facts according to its own ideology:

"That conclusion, of which President Obama and other senior officials are aware from classified assessments...casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States." (emphasis added)

Ah yes, the fault is all with the "minimal and indirect" intervention of the US in the conflict. Surely a Libya-type operation would already be reaping US foreign policy the same kinds of rewards we are getting in Libya!

So what is the truth? The truth is hard to swallow for the propagandizing media and the propagandized public: Assad was telling the truth when he told Barbara Walters in an interview earlier this year:

“Not everybody in the street was fighting for freedom. You have different components, you have extremists, religious extremists...like-minded people of Al Qaeda... [F]rom the very first few weeks we had those terrorists they are getting more and more aggressive, they have been killing. We have 1,000– over 1,100 soldiers and policeman killed, who killed them? peaceful demonstrators? This is not logical.”

Of course no one wanted to listen to him because he, like Saddam, Milosevic, Gaddafi, etc before him, had been branded a "madman" in the media. Who could listen to a madman? Who could possibly negotiate with a madman? They only understand one thing, force. We have all heard this interventionist neo-con garbage for decades but for some reason it still seems to work.

Likewise, Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross, a Melkite Greek Catholic nun, was telling the truth earlier this summer when she told the Irish Times that the rebels were targeting Christians in Syria. She continued:
“The West and Gulf states must not give finance to armed insurrectionists who are sectarian terrorists, most of whom are from al-Qaeda, according to a report presented to the German parliament. ... They bring terror, destruction, fear and nobody protects the civilians. [There were] very few Syrians among the rebels. ...Mercenaries should go home.”
The reason that the weapons being funneled to the Syrian rebels are ending up in the hands of radical Islamists is because the rebels are radical Islamists. The founder of Doctors Without Borders noticed it after working with the wounded in Syria. German intelligence noticed it after an investigation suggested that up to 95 percent of the Syrian rebels are not Syrian.

It is a myth that the initial peaceful protests only turned violent reluctantly after they were met with force by the regime. In fact we see plans early on to turn events in Syria toward regime change. We saw it early in the 1996 US neo-conservative "Clean Break" study for then-Prime Minister Netanyahu, which urged him to "contain, destabilize, and roll-back" Syria and other countries in the region. We saw it more recently in numerous influential think tank studies like that of Brookings' Saban Center's oft-cited report early this year tellingly titled, "Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change." Like the authors of the "Clean Break" paper, the Saban Center is heavily neo-conservative and pro-Likud.

In conclusion, here is the really bad news: As the US Syria policy falls apart, there is increasing danger that the built up tension in the region — particularly the disastrous decision of the Turkish government to support the rebels in Syria — is leading to a wider conflict that threatens to spin out of control. Turkey and Armenia are at each others throats, Armenia and Azerbaijan are preparing for war, Iraq warily watches chaos on its borders, Russia is installing its next-generation S-400 anti-aircraft missiles in its southern military region near Turkey, and so on. Backed into a corner by a failed policy, the US as usual is doubling down on a bad bet, feeding Turkey bogus intelligence about chimeral arms shipments aboard Syrian passenger planes carrying Russian passengers, etc. Rebel mortars lobbed into Turkey give a desperate Erdogan government the pretext it needs to establish a buffer zone in Syria and hope for NATO reinforcements, which are not coming. French observer Thierry Meyssan writes that "Turkey [is] on the verge of a nervous breakdown" after NATO "packs it in" on Syria.
[Links at original post.]

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Reap the whirlwind

Feminism is a cudgel wielded with great success by women in the upper percentiles of intelligence and/or attractiveness. It gets them access to upper percentile men or creates sinecures which would otherwise not exist in a viable society. Less intelligent and/or less attractive women--don't try this at home.

Exhibit A: Monica Lewinsky

Let's go down the punch list: somewhat attractive, check; somewhat intelligent, check; tony-sounding degree, check; liberal politics, check; public sinecure, check; access to powerful men, check; high standards (The President! Peer-group males? Don't TOUCH me, you misogynist creep!), check; unbridled sexuality, check.

Today, she's a fat, broke 40-year old living with mom. There's hopeful talk of $12M (Obama-level bucks--she needs to scale back her expectations) for a book from an obese middle-aged woman about what it was like to have sex with Bill Clinton. (Among other shortcomings, aging feminists don't understand human psychology). Net out taxes, debts and a Manhattan-lifestyle from a more realistic $3 million (do publishers pay even that kind of money anymore?) and don't plan on retiring just yet.

Steve Sailer posts about the fruits of female empowerment in other settings here. There's also the morbid account of the elderly, bipolar feminist Shulamith Firestone here.

The Prime Directive of feminism is, of course, reproductive choice, about which I've commented before. In practice, reproductive choice empowers women to have unbridled sex with dangerous, attractive strangers who make terrible husbands and fathers. Read the 2008 account of Katie Piper, one of the Daily Mail's recipients of their Inspirational Women Award here. You can read more about Katie Piper's hook-up with an exotic lover here. Again, feminism is not a good tactic when wielded by the less intelligent.

Scale back from these outliers to millions of less dramatic personal tragedies. We are going to reap the whirlwind from feminism.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Meanwhile, back in Antioch

(Actually, the See resides in Damascus, and the Synod usually meets in Beirut, which is what my mother Church did this week.)

From Notes On Arab Orthodoxy:

The Holy Synod of Antioch began the work of its 49th regular session at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand, October 2-4, 2012. His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius addressed a word to the metropolitans present in which he stressed the importance of the Christian witness in our countries and the world and the effort to strengthen the Christian presence in them in the face of the challenges facing the children of the Church in their countries.

...

The Christians of the Middle East are children of this region, which is the cradle of Christianity. They have given the Catholic Church some of her most important Fathers and teachers. Their history is a testimony to their openness and engagement in public life and they have enriched Arab civilization through their scientific, intellectual, and literary efforts. Middle-Eastern Christians, the children of various Christian churches, are called to commit themselves to the issues of humanity and of their countries, with faith in the teachings of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church. The Antiochian Orthodox Church, which is rooted in the Arab East, must play a leading role in revealing the authentic face of Christianity, which serves humanity without regard to ethnicity or religion.

The fathers see the increase in emigration, especially among the youth, to the countries of the diaspora as a danger that threatens the active Christian presence in our societies. For this reason they see it necessesary to invest in endowments and to support Church institutions for growing service to the faithful in order to solidify their existence in their homelands and to ensure the bases for their remaining in the countries in which God called us to bear witness.

Christians are leaving the lands which birthed the Faith, ahead of the second Mohammedan conquest. These issues have been building for decades and the Antiochian hierarchy now take their heads out of the sand long enough to call for what should have been done years ago. The Church did nothing to prepare her communities for what inevitably had to come, and the communities themselves remained in denial and decided to stop having children. Turkey wants Assad gone as do the peninsular Arabs, who want the Christians dispersed and the Shia in cemeteries. And oil-hungry US/NATO will lead the cheering section. The isolation of the Middle Eastern Christians is terribly apparent. Spengler at Asia Times suggests they move to Israel.

Syrian and Lebanese Christians seem to have assumed they could just bob along in the current of pan-Arab nationalism during the salad days of secular rule. (One of the founders of the Ba'athist movement, Michel Aflaq, was an Orthodox Christian.) Now that it turns out pan-Arab nationalism really means Peninsular Arab (i.e., Sunni) nationalism, we hear the pleas for organization, political engagement, staying put, don't-offend-anybody, etc.

A tragic situation--God protect His faithful in the Middle East.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bubble theology

Commenter Ingemar shared some thoughts via e-mail on Church growth. The historic cycle of artificial expansion of national economies and their subsequent busts strikes him as similar to historic booms and busts in Church growth. All Christians enjoy the peak times of State imprimatur and social peace, but the troughs of persecution and civil unrest are the crucibles for our Saints and sharpen our focus on our spiritual center. State sponsorship and economic prosperity, it strikes Ingemar, operate in the Church the same way as the central bank's artificial savings, displacing the organic 'savings' of Christ-centered spirituality and faithful praxis.

The US Protestant church presents the clearest example of this, with its mega-churches, evangelists in Lear jets, and rock-concert 'worship' services. Protestantism, like a bubble economy, seemingly thrives on an artificial and ultimately negative energy. Its entire history is of groups splintering off to practice their 'pure' Christianity, the accretion into a rival institution that enjoys great success, which then spawns a generation of dissenters who splinter off in their turn. This is the negative energy of decomposition, as each successive group follows the same pattern. Protestantism, as others have put it, is schismism. And now we have the absurd and logical conclusion of this process with the home church movement and messianic judaism. Words fail me.

'Growth' has a lot of appeal to US Orthodox, an understandable reaction to strained parish budgets, financially struggling clergy, and remote bishops unable to tend their flocks.

Orthodoxy in America enjoys the luxury of religious tolerance and economic good times but we are soft, like all other nominal Christians in the US. I don't know the numbers, but I doubt a majority of the children of converts (the only new growth at this point) are staying. To the larger American population, Orthodoxy remains one particularly idiosyncratic option among many. God forbid, we disappear in the next few generations.

A big part of the problem is that Orthodoxy is so alien to the entire American outlook. A highly mobile, progressivist and propositional people are frankly repulsed by the idea of a geographically-based Church with an ecclesiology which deliberately retards change.

Discussion of growth in Orthodoxy must begin from an understanding of how the Church grew historically. Missionary Churches slowly built through first, then second, then third generations of families who, past a certain point, knew no other 'church.' To a Greek or Russian of that era, the question would simply never have entered their minds. No matter what scandals or power struggles or the congregants' own sporadic attendance, when you "went to church," you went to The Church. The institution was inextricably intertwined with your locale, family history and your larger ethnicity and culture. At that point, you declared autocephaly and joined the universal family of the Church Militant. How does such a process even get started in a society like the US? And did I mention the jurisdictional issues? Best not.

The Church in America is only just now moving from her diaspora phase to her missionary phase, notwithstanding the OCA's press releases and Antiochian declarations of 'self-rule.' It will take a critical mass of successive grandparents, parents and children, baptized, married and buried, who do not think of the Church as anything other than their local Orthodox diocese before we can honestly regard ourselves as a viable, non-missionary Church.

Then we can talk about growth.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Plan, American version

Bernanke announced that the Fed will print up $40B a month and buy mortgage-backed securities with it. The European Central Bank is doing essentially the same thing, printing up money to buy the bonds of its laggard members at their nominal value.

It won't work here either. What happened in 2008 is what should have happened in 2008. The FIRE sector was ridiculously overvalued and should have been liquidated. Murray Rothbard explained it all in 1963 and it's no less true today. Where the Fed thinks they have outsmarted the old Austrian model is in providing a secondary market for the supply side as opposed to merely stoking demand. They will cover up the hole in nominal wealth by printing money and buying the toxic assets and stowing them on a balance sheet somewhere, and wait for the economy to grow us out of the hole in the meantime.

The problem is that the Fed is continuing to pour false savings into the same errors that real savings were sucked into from the beginning. Liar loans and 4/2 houses miles away from economic centers were never worth as much as the market said they were. Now that the iron laws of supply and demand are reasserting themselves, we're much poorer than we think. The aggregate demand which the Keynesians are banking on is shot, as consumers continue to labor under massive debt loads and declining real wages.

The hoped for growth will not happen. The false savings will outbid the real savings for capital, and the malinvestments in housing and finance will continue, not to mention the increasing tax and regulatory burdens on US business and downward pressures on US consumption. So the private sector continues to sit on overseas cash and buy Treasury bonds yielding zero real interest. The heavy hand of the Fed and foreign central banks of net exporting nation is felt there as well, buying up T-bills from the secondary market so they can continue to honor the US government's checks. The countervailing motivation is for the Fed's open market policy to chase investors into higher-yielding corporate bonds and equities. Again, it won't happen because the private sector is not spending, waiting for the next fiscal or monetary shoe to drop. The whole scheme is a ridiculous house of cards.

If, $2T later, all these markets (FIRE, student loans, sovereign debt) still require so much intervention, isn't economic reality trying to tell us something?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Isn't this kind of a big deal?



Historically, I thought when your ambassador gets shot in the head and dragged into the street in front of a picture-taking rabble, there had to be some pretty serious grovelling unless you wanted a few cannonballs lobbed at your border towns. So far, this is apparently all the Barack Hussein administration can muster in the way of outrage:
Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said "it would be premature to ascribe any motive to this reprehensible act," but other U.S. officials said they couldn't rule out the possibility of a link to al-Liby's death or the Sept. 11 anniversary, saying the attack was too sophisticated to have been spontaneous...

"While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants," Obama said in a statement.

Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, insisted the U.S. wouldn't be driven from the country.

"We never have been, and we never will be, run off, period," Biden said at a campaign event in Dayton, Ohio. "That's not who we are."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the attack "should shock the people of all faiths around the world."

"I ask myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?" she said. "This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be."

Never fear America, with these gimlet-eyed practitioners of realpolitik at the helm!

The media, for its part, doesn't seem to view this as much of a game-changer, other than to ponder the irreparable damage to the Romney campaign for their reaction to Libyan nationals executing the US's top emissary in his own (apparently unguarded) consulate.

The background of course is a long history of US meddling in places it doesn't understand and does not belong, and a film made by an ethnic group with a history of militant grievances against Islam (whom we have allowed to settle here in substantial numbers, along with Libyans).

The US has sent gunboats to the Libyan coast, doubtless to support troops in another planned foreign occupation. Of course, foreign aid will not be cut off, Libyans will not be deported, and well-intended, naive and muddled bureaucrats will continue to be assigned to Libya.

"The State has suddenly and quietly gone mad. It is talking nonsense and it can't stop." --G. K. Chesterton

UPDATE: no sympathy from the Russians:
Yevgeny Y. Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Middle East in Moscow, said American leaders should not expect “one word of sympathy” from their Russian counterparts.

“It is a tragedy to the family of the poor ambassador, but his blood is on the hands of Hillary Clinton personally and Barack Obama personally,” Mr. Satanovsky said. He said Russian warnings against intervention in the Middle East came from the bitter experience of the Soviets in Afghanistan.

“You are the Soviet Union now, guys, and you pay the price,” he said. “You are trying to distribute democracy the way we tried to distribute socialism. You do it the Western way. They hate both.” He said dictators were preferable to the constellation of armed forces that emerges when they are unseated.

“They lynched Qaddafi—do you really think they will be thankful to you?” he said. “They use stupid white people from a big rich and stupid country which they really hate.”

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Plan

From Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution.

Long story short, the ECB will print money to purchase its less responsible member-states' bonds to keep borrowing costs low and banks' balance sheets positive. This is basically what the Fed did in 2008 when the banking system realized that all those $300K houses out there weren't actually worth $300K. So they printed $2T to buy up all the worthless MBS's and other financial instruments so banks wouldn't have to show that they were insolvent. The Fed is still doing this with USG bond purchases. I read somewhere that the Fed purchased 60% of UST's in 2011, which is why the government is essentially being paid to borrow money. Krugman thinks that's great and from the taxpayer's perspective, he's right.

The new money is "sterilized" per the linked article through complex transactions designed to keep the new money from flooding the economy and showing up in far higher real prices. These methods include just keeping the assets stowed on the central bank's balance sheet, paying higher interest on the member banks' own deposits with the central bank, and requiring that the assets be repurchased when, presumably, the banks' balance sheets are stronger.

Mainstream economists all seem to agree it's A New Era and this can be done. The goal is apparently to paper over the liquidity shock until the real economy strengthens and the new money can be absorbed without sparking inflation.

Instinctively, this doesn't seem sustainable or we surely would have figured this out by now. The Austrians would say that we need to think forward to all possible effects from the central banks' actions. My stab at this would be that productive sectors continue to be starved of capital and outbid for resources by the unproductive sectors. The real economy continues to hollow out as productive sectors fold and labor/capital stays in subsidized industries like health care and education, FIRE sectors which should have been liquidated in 2008, public works, etc. Demand is maintained but on the supply side, interest rates do not reflect real world events like no outlet for culinary school grads, China's used up all the concrete, consumers are tapped out, etc. (Sorry--that's the best I can do on such a complex issue). So the central bank has to continue its easing to maintain the structure of production in a nominal state as if the real world events weren't happening.

At this point, economic reality should hit. Investors should dump the government bonds and other instruments knowing that current yields will never be positive in real terms. Rates jump sharply to reflect the reality, the sectors coasting along on continued artificially cheap credit go up in smoke, asset values collapse, and we are back where we started. What does the central bank do then, print up quadrillion Euros/dollars?

BUT, this hasn't happened and according to mainstream economists, it doesn't have to. They claim their models are good enough and that they can keep demand up without inflation. We seem to be muddling along without $10 bread so far, and sovereigns all over the globe are still being paid to borrow money.

So, what am I missing? Do the central banks really, finally have it all figured out?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A voice crying in the wilderness


The Holy Trinity of Strength Training -- by Bill Starr

If you’re looking to build brute strength, you need to avoid machines and biceps curls. Instead, focus your time in the weight room on a small number of core exercises that hit the main muscle groups.

It’s called keeping it simple—and it works.

We selected three exercises: bench press, back squat and power clean. We called them the Big Three.

The main reason the Big Three works well is that all the energy of an athlete is put into making the large muscles and corresponding attachments stronger. The main problem with routines that consist of numerous exercises is only so much energy is available. When it’s spread out over a dozen or more movements, none receive much attention. Therefore, we do not get stronger.

It’s my observation that those in charge of putting together strength programs in high school, colleges and professional sports have reverted back to the same mistakes their predecessors made in the ʼ60s. There are far too many exercises in nearly every program I’m asked to examine. In truth, the athletes who are using this multi-layered concept aren’t getting that much stronger. They might get a little stronger, but not nearly as much as if they had applied all their energy to moving iron.

Three is the operative number when designing a beginning strength program: three basic exercises for the three major muscle groups done three times a week. This program is equally useful to those starting back into a strength routine after a layoff, as well as those wanting to maintain a high level of strength fitness at any age.

Simplicity is the key to success in strength training—so keep it simple.

Clean



Bench Press



Squat



And yes, always do full squats.


It's good to see Bill Starr still active and preaching the word.

If you do no other workout ever, do the Big Three.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reproductive Choice

The Left has been on a real tear about "reproductive choice" these days, here, here and here. The party line is that but for abortion and birth control, women would be brood mares in thrall to Bible-thumping patriarchs who insist on ten children per (multiple) wife. That can only be the case under an authoritarian--even totalitarian--regime that treats women as property. Nobody seems to notice that the highest fertility rates are among net tax-consuming women, supposedly freed from male dependency by the beneficience of the State. Nobody asks what exactly is compelling women to have sexual intercourse with men who won't marry them and whom they are not inclined to marry.

The harsh truth is that whether a woman will face the supposedly awful dilemma of carrying a child to term or aborting her unborn child depends largely on 1) age, 2) biological fitness, and 3) attractiveness. Whether a woman's breeding partner can be relied upon to provide the necessary support for pregnancy and child-rearing depends entirely upon the woman's choice of whom she sleeps with, outside the abominations of rape and incest. And even in the supposedly rape-ridden world in which we are said to live, in a survey of 405 rape victims, 6.4% resulted in pregnancy. It takes a great leap of imagination to believe the abortion clinics are filled with victims of what is more properly described as genetic theft.

The shibboleth of "reproductive choice" is actually women railing against biological reality and moral agency.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Legitimate Rape

First, of course, I'm against it.

But second, rape must necessarily mean sexual intercourse by physically overpowering or threatening a woman rather than the pregnant term "without consent," if rape really is a uniquely heinous crime on a different plane from a physical battery or forcing somebody at gunpoint to empty their checking account. Rape is not, "I really shouldn't have his penis inside my vagina." (Or, more cynically, "That bastard used me!") The allegations against Julian Assange are apparently not that he physically overpowered a woman in order to sexually penetrate her but rather that he boorishly insisted on plowing ahead without a condom. One one-hundredth of an inch of latex apparently distinguishes rape from what would otherwise be a good f*** to regale your friends with. (And anybody who thinks women don't talk about these things, you are hereby permanently banned from this blog.)

George Galloway is right. To define rape in such terms is to "bankrupt the term rape of all meaning." Yes you can plow me like the back forty (I am necessarily omitting the preparatory work and graphic detail) but no condom? That's where I draw the line!

If that is Julian Assange's crime, then we detach rape from the uniquely violent and violative nature of the act. The act of coitus is irrelevant in such circumstances. The "rape" would lie in inflicting the risk of pregnancy or venereal disease. In the case of the former, the victim would be compensated by billing Assange for a Morning After pill or a D & C. Hey, abortion is safe and legal after all. Just an exercise in reproductive choice. Empowering even. In the case of the latter, we are obviously talking about serious consequences, in which event maybe we ought to rethink this whole idea of casual sex with people we have no intention of marrying. If Assange is in fact neutered or hygienic, then truly no "crime" has been committed. This is how absurd the debate gets when the act of coitus becomes so completely trivialized.

This whole brouhaha continues to roil because of statements by a typically clueless Congressman who used the unfortunate phrase, "legitimate rape." Well, if rape really is a uniquely heinous form of battery (it used to be punishable by death), then there really is such a thing.

On a further note, The Spearhead has a thoughtful essay on the consequences of restricting abortion to cases of rape.
[I]f a woman in a rape and incest only abortion state says, “I’ve been raped, and I need an abortion,” what do you think the doctor will ask? Why, he’ll ask “who raped you?” She’ll have to come up with someone or some description of a crime, or else she’ll have to make something up, otherwise the ban on abortion has no teeth. If she really was raped and reported it immediately, she won’t need an abortion; the morning after pill works. But if, for whatever reason, she held off long enough for fertilization to occur, the automatic assumption will be that she is the victim of a serious felony crime, and the state has a mandate to investigate.

Say she really wasn’t raped, but her boyfriend/sex-partner rejected her after she got pregnant and told her to get the hell out of his life. She isn’t ready for this baby, and she really doesn’t want to have it without some support. So she decides to claim she was raped. The doctor or some hospital official asks her who, where, when, she hems and haws, and finally a detective is brought in to get to the heart of the matter. Eventually, she admits that the boyfriend is the child’s father. “Did he really rape you?” asks the cop.

Now she’s faced with the choice of admitting that she’s been lying all along and losing the chance to get an abortion, or getting her boyfriend in very serious trouble with the law.

Who can say what she’ll do? It could go either way. And perhaps the most terrible thing is that a man’s dead child could be used to falsely convict him through a DNA test.

Who knew fornication would be this complicated?

Friday, August 17, 2012

There must be some mistake

The New York Times publishes a column by David Stockman, via Ad Orientem.

I have previously noted that David Stockman has come in from the supply-side cold and has even gotten air time at mises.org.
The greatest regulatory problem — far more urgent that the environmental marginalia Mitt Romney has fumed about — is that the giant Wall Street banks remain dangerous quasi-wards of the state and are inexorably prone to speculative abuse of taxpayer-insured deposits and the Fed’s cheap money. Forget about “too big to fail.” These banks are too big to exist — too big to manage internally and to regulate externally. They need to be broken up by regulatory decree. Instead, the Romney-Ryan ticket attacks the pointless Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, when what’s needed is a restoration of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial and investment banking...

Like his new boss, Mr. Ryan has no serious plan to create jobs. America has some of the highest labor costs in the world, and saddles workers and businesses with $1 trillion per year in job-destroying payroll taxes. We need a national sales tax — a consumption tax, like the dreaded but efficient value-added tax — but Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan don’t have the gumption to support it.

These two points in particular resonate with me.

1. The banking system has converted its non-systemic risk to systemic risk. If the banking system wants the public to be the ultimate guarantor, then it must accept public regulation. Banks can return to their historical function as depositary institutions and payment processors and Wall Street can market speculative opportunities to high net worth investors.

2. Taxes should be simple and everybody should pay them. Forget the endless lobbying and tinkering over income, capital gains, deductions, deferrals and earned income credits. It is way past time to start debating a VAT. Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan deserved far more intelligent consideration than it got.

The Death Of Feminism

35 years of feminism -> Governor Schwarzenegger

Sailer's conclusion is that after 35 years of feminism, the best the Left has to show is juiced, promiscuous Arnold Schwarzenegger defeating nerdy anti-man Gray Davis for governor of California. My observation is that after 35 years of feminism, we've got Mexican weather girls and female athletes who get more enticing every year.

(As an aside, women's "sports" such as rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming and women's beach volleyball strike me as nothing less than elaborate personal ads. Google these phrases and have a look. I don't know how any male with normal T-receptors is supposed to think otherwise.)

What is going on? I thought we were beyond these superficial assessments of looks and gender and finally at the enlightened plane of judging people on their pure careerist merits. But the aesthetic competition grinds on, with everybody perennially obsessed with losing weight, staying young and scoring. The culture is wholly suffused with advertising and exploiting sexual market value.

I perceive a deep cynicism behind the whole feminist movement. At best, feminism tilts the scales in favor of unattractive women in procuring government and corporate sinecures for which their looks and attitude would otherwise disqualify them. In the real world, would anybody hire this woman to teach anything? The Prime Directive of feminism, "reproductive choice," seems most capably exploited by high sexual market value women who don't want an unplanned pregnancy handicapping them in the hunt for the Big One. The only other women who seem exercised about abortion and birth control are harridans whose looks, age, personality or combination thereof have already made their reproductive choices for them. "Reproductive choice" for these women is nothing less than assuring the more nubile and fitter competition doesn't get a leg up.

In short, feminism seems to be a doctrine dreamed up by high-g women to benefit their class. The unforeseen consequence is that feminism, having captured the State, has guaranteed that men no longer need to bring marriage and bread-winning to the table in order to obtain sex with females. Women who aspire to be good wives and mothers lose their competitive advantage, and the slut-race to the bottom is on.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The wages of sin

Gonorrhea Evades Antibiotics, Leaving Only One Drug To Treat Disease, from NPR.org

Now if NPR really wanted to be ahead of the curve, they'd have titled this piece, The Clock Is Ticking On The Sexual Revolution. Surely that would generate some hits and lively discussion? Of course, the last place NPR's wealthy Jewish and SWPL donors want them to be is ahead of the curve. But I digress.

From the linked article:
"I think it should be a real clarion call to every American that we've got a looming public health crisis on our hands and potentially hundreds of thousands of cases of untreatable gonorrhea in this country every year," said William Smith, who heads the National Coalition of STD Directors.

Officials know adopting the new guidelines won't be easy. For one thing, ceftriaxone is an intra-muscular shot instead of a pill. And they want doctors to give it along with at least one other antibiotic and test patients to make sure they're cured.

But they know that all this will help only for a while, and that they can't stop the clock from ticking on the one drug left.

"We think it's only a matter of time based on the history of this organism until resistance does develop," Bolan said.

So scientists are searching for new combinations of antibiotics that might work. And officials are pushing for new weapons that might stay one step ahead of gonorrhea and the growing list of antibiotic-resistant infections.

How about don't have sex with everybody in sight? Get married and stay married? Scientists are baffled. What do we do?

There are several things going on here, all of which I've previously written about on this blog.

1. There is a biological basis for "old-fashioned" morality. And we owe a duty to the people on the left side of the IQ/time preference distribution to promulgate clear-cut social norms. When high-g liberals figured out the rules of social conservatism weren't necessarily for their benefit, they publicly abandoned them.

2. Secular society deifies science. Nobody wants to admit the Church and the patriarchy were right all along. So even as this looming epidemic could be avoided by some rather simple behavioral choices, the cry goes up for Holy Science to save us with its magic potions. Too bad the potions, having ramped up selection pressures on microbes, are now approaching diminishing returns. Meanwhile, we've exponentially increased transmission vectors and have human Petri dishes pumped full of antiretrovirals walking all around.

I could go on all day about point 2. Didn't these uber rational secularists realize that evolution has not stopped? Science, having unmoored itself from Creation, can't even fumble its way back to basic premises.

Incidentally, the CDC has tons of interactive data here that can be sorted in all kinds of impolitic ways.

3. One rough inference that's pretty easy to draw from the CDC's data: a majority of women sleep with a minority of men. Contrary to 50 years of feminist dogma, it is women, not men, who retain the bargaining power in the sexual relationship.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Inevitably, meet the newest member of the Florida Bar

Via Ad Orientem.
An illegal immigrant seeking admission to the Florida bar has met its requirements to become a lawyer, the bar said in a filing this week to the Florida Supreme Court in a case being watched closely by both sides of the immigration debate.

Jose Godinez-Samperio is one of a few illegal immigrants in different states trying to get law licenses after passing the local bar’s two-pronged test: an exam and a moral character review.

The US government devotes billions of dollars not to protecting the nation's territorial and cultural integrity, but to forcing acceptance of immigrants on the extant population. The military is devoted not to its classical role of defending the borders, but to Trotskyite foreign policy. Unless the Florida Supreme Court raises the obvious point that Godinez-Samperio has no more rights than a trespasser, the democratic consensus will undoubtedly be that he should take his place in that State's structure of governance.

If the preference is for "open" borders, dismantle the government and return immigration to its prior regime of contract and private property. Nobody will advocate this option because then no Big Daddy government to socialize the costs.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Most Important And Pressing Issue Of Our Time

I speak, of course, about gay marriage.

(See: The Libertarian and Conservative Case for the Abolition of Marriage Laws, via Serge's blog.)

I'm being sarcastic, but on the other hand, the question of which sexual unions society will regard as legitimate and worthy of legal protection is pretty fundamental.

What Peter Reith (the author of the linked essay) argues for, intentionally or unintentionally, is theocracy, at least for those who want it. The Church will decide whether you get to break the marriage contract, adopt babies, inherit from a family member, or collect child support. Now, I may be in total agreement with this, but it violates the charter of every secular, democratic State out there, and for good reason, from the State's perspective. Reith's presumed point--the secular State should give up its monopoly over the courts--requires the State to sign its own death warrant.

I think libertarians like Reith want to have their cake and eat it too. They enjoy the prosperity afforded by the secular State's economies of scale but want it to carve out religious enclaves and everybody can just get along. But we all pay taxes, we all pay insurance premiums and we all have to deal with other people's bad outcomes. Monogamous heterosexual, polygamous and homosexual unions have consequences. Hence the citizens make policy choices among the various options. Substitute the State for whatever social structure you like: Amish plantation, Hebrew township, Somali clan, Muslim caliphate. In every one of those places, somebody is going to end up beyond the pale.

The only reason we are having this debate is because we are numerous, even antithetical cultures all under the same State. The debate will ultimately be resolved by the State as final arbiter because it has the most guns. It's pretty easy to predict that the State will extend legal validity to homosexual and other unions because it wants as many constituents as possible. And here is where Reith's argument gets slippery.
If there were no laws on the books regarding marriage – and ever man who wished to marry a woman had to either create their own institution for doing it, redefine marriage to mean something arbitrary or marry in an established religious institution – I submit to you that the following would happen:

...c. Marry in established religious orders with their own body of private church, synagogue or mosque laws governing marriage – thereby making it extremely difficult to actually lead to a situation wherein people would marry who had no intention of staying married, or who thought that the civil laws would somehow sanction their later change of hearts. Would we still have people leaving their spouses? Yes. Would they be able to benefit financially and otherwise from this immoral decision on the basis of civil laws which protect the right to divorce? No. They would, in fact, if ever their vows turned out to be worthless, lose all credibility in said religious community – which would be strengthened by the loss of such elements from their midst.

Thus, by restoring full responsibilities for the regulation of marriage to individuals and churches, we would restore the grand sense of overwhelming obligation that a man and woman ought to feel before what is supposed to be a mighty institution. Surely this serves the development of strong families, secures faith, and ultimately leads to the patriotism of a people who love their country because it gives them the means to be self-governing men and women?

What is "said religious community" and "their country?" A place where homosexual unions have equal dignity with heterosexual unions? Polygamy? Concubinage? If it's not, then Reith needs to come out and say it: the pluralist State has got to go. He apparently doesn't want to venture anywhere near such an outcome, so he switches to a positivist perspective: the State could and should grant this aspect of the right to self-governance. Don't we already have that? Why wouldn't I just secede instead?

Ultimately, it appears Reith is just trying to buffer the State's legitimacy by enlarging its tent. This is, I would say, a very Roman perspective.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Icelanders aren't starving in the streets

From a comment on Vox Popoli, the Bush/Obama/Bernanke bailout did not avert a crisis for the economy, it averted a crisis for the banks.

There are two economies, the "real" economy and the "bubble" economy.

The real economy draws down real savings (i.e., capital) for production and sells for consumption. If you save up your paychecks and buy a Subway franchise, you're participating in the real economy.

The bubble economy depends on fake savings--units of account out of thin air. If you're a government contractor, or a welfare recipient, and you cash one of the government's checks, the government is overdrawn to the tune of $1T a year. But instead of handing you the check back stamped NSF, the bank ultimately presents it to the Fed which enters a credit of pure magic-money. The Fed's banking and open market operations are more complex but at bottom it's the same thing: the Fed just makes a credit entry and the new money enters the economy.

The economy is dynamic and fluid, so figuring out which is "real" and which is "bubble" can be difficult. Sometimes it's obvious: student loans, McMansions.

What happened in 2008 (and in 2001, and in 1987, and in 1929) was the "bubble" economy became unmarketable. People figured out prices had become detached from underlying value, so all those people trying to pass off that bundle of mortgage-backed securities to the greater fool suddenly found themselves holding the bag. The fake savings stoke demand and prices lose their signaling capacity. Six bedroom homes in the middle of a California desert seem like a really good deal. That's how the bubble economy works: everything's great, until it isn't.

So long as there's a store of human capital and raw materials, people survive. That's why you don't see Icelanders starving in the streets. The only crisis is that early recipients of the new money--bankers, net tax consumers, people who overpaid for assets--are no longer rich.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Global warming as artifact

Via Vox Popoli. The source material is here.

A team headed by meteorologist Anthony Watts decided to look at where temperature stations were reading, not just what they were reading. To greatly simplify, it might be important to know how many stations that were once located in vacant areas might now have buildings all around them, or are sitting on top of airport tarmacs. Half of the mean increase in temperature (and we are talking about an increase ranging from 0.3 C/decade to a statistical zero) may be purely an artifact of stations sited near exogenous heat sources. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Farmland is hotter than forest, cities are hotter than farmland.

Now, I'm actually willing to meet the environmentalists halfway on this. Yes, it's hotter in Atlanta and Phoenix. After all, there's more people with more farms and more cities filled with asphalt, steel and cars. Like the late Michael Crichton, I agree there are some real quality of life issues that need to be addressed.

The larger problem is the deification of science and technology, which are now employed in the service of gnostic ideals. "Climatology" (as opposed to the actual work of studying weather, meteorology) is just one aspect of this.

The HIV/AIDS hypothesis needs serious re-thinking. This supposed killer-freight train of a virus has, for several decades, stubbornly refused to spread beyond people with high-risk lifestyles. Could HIV be more an opportunistic virus for people whose immune systems are already compromised by hugely promiscuous levels of anal intercourse, drug use and infectious disease? I'm already committing a hatecrime.

The obesity-inducing USDA food pyramid: turns out the meat which sustained our evolution for a million years is actually good for you.

Cancer: we still just cut, poison or irradiate tumors and channel the research into different body parts. Nobody seems to be at work unravelling the deeper causes of metastasis, though perhaps someone in the field can educate me otherwise.

No critical thinking is being devoted to antibiotics and vaccines, i.e., that we may be reaching diminishing returns as these medicines put additional selection pressures on microbes.

In another area, the politically correct conclusion is that evolution only happens from the neck down and/or stopped 40,000 years ago.

And don't even get me started on the cargo cult mentality of the macro-economists, who supposedly advanced the field with their scientific and mathematical method. More on macro vs. micro later.

But back to global warming. Again, meeting the environmentalists halfway ultimately means smaller, "cleaner" cities which means fewer concentrated voting blocs on the receiving end of redistributive fiscal policy, and limiting the 1.5 million immigrants who arrive in the US each year wanting places to live and buy cellphones and dump their trash.

Science is no longer in the business of real world solutions. Ultimately, as I have predicted, the Left will tiptoe away from environmentalism just like they've tiptoed away from ethnic pride, the working class, local rule and other former causes. The Cathedral (the secular one) will equate "environmentalism" with "racism." When the debate boils down to granting mineral and timber rights in the national parks to fund socialized medicine, you can bet the SWPL backpackers won't win that fight.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Still more thoughts on Penn State

Vox Popoli has a thread.
I truly don't care about Penn State football or college football in general. If college students want to stage athletic events, they can rent a field and buy insurance and equipment and practice facilities on their own dime. To equate the NCAA--a purely private, contractual body--with God's Holy Justice is downright comical. The NCAA only survives because of intense lobbying by vested interests to avoid government oversight and because it fellates the NBA and NFL by cartelizing college negroball. And, yet again, it is a useful distraction from the root hazard: homosexual access to young males.

I could have told you for nothing that big-time college football programs are structurally incapable of running foster care charities and you wouldn't have to hire Louis Freeh. This is like blaming the Marine Corps because some of its recruits rape 14-year old Okinawans.

Kings And Queens

The incomparable Taki Theodoracopulos acclaims monarchy here. Mr. Taki is in very good company. Austrian-school economist Hans-Herman Hoppe has noted the advantages in political economy of a monarchist regime here.

Unfortunately, the truth is we cannot be monarchists even if we want to be. As commenter Roland on Salo Forum explains,
The monarchists from the New Right do not understand the history or nature of traditional western monarchy. The monarchy to which the mediocre elites in the article above are connected is the institutional foundation of western culture, established by powerful, enterprising men over the course of a millennium through force and intermarriage. Accordingly, the traditional monarch either earned his rights through conquest and usurpation or inheritance from someone who had earned those rights. If those rights had been lost, the only way to reacquire them was by earning them again through brute force. Therefore, we can imagine a modern monarchy that reproduces the political conditions of classical absolutism only to the extent that any modern individual possesses the resources to challenge, militarily, the modern nation state.

The main reason an authentic 21st-century monarch is impossible is that the modern nation-state has perfected the absolutist mechanism of government by eliminating the weaknesses inherent in government by a private individual. While a private individual will never be able to command the mob by appealing to their impulse to self-rule, modern democracies are able to fund and power their absolute, centralized governments by cloaking every policy in the cover of democratic legitimacy (the genius of Hobbes). Moreover, while it took monarchies hundreds of years to acquire the legitimacy of the Church, modern governments can choose when and how their acts will be connected to a given myth by virtue of being premeditated, written -- "founded" -- governments. The United States government is, in fact, the premier example of modern absolutism because it succeeded in adopting some of the classical methods for harnessing and placating the mob without damaging the scope of the absolute, centralized government, i.e., without allowing classical aristocratic republicanism to actually perform its natural function.

People who claim that aspiring and upstart monarchs can do the same are actually thinking of modern, ideological dictators who acquire power by virtue of their ability to manipulate the mob through appeals to justice and other myths rather than by virtue of their personal material success and acumen for war.

The quote is admittedly a secular viewpoint. But where do we even begin to return to the institution of Divine monarchy? To take a single example, England's line of succession is hopelessly tangled by intervening democratic acts. I've previously commented on the morphing of European monarchy into a pan-national, inter-bred ubermensch here. It was for no small reason that the Israelites were commanded, "Thou mayst not make a man of another nation king, that is not thy brother." (Deuteronomy 17:15). (They were likewise commanded, "He shall not have...immense sums of silver and gold," but that's another topic). Not to mention, where are the "true" bishops of the Church to perform the rite of ordination these days--Catholic? Orthodox? Lutheran-Missouri Synod? Any one of hundreds of Protestant sects?

In terms of culture, a paradigm shift that results in the populi viewing their nation and state as legal property of the King is hard to imagine. There is a passage in Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver/Baroque Cycle when Daniel Waterhouse suddenly comes face to face with "England" during the London Great Fire in the exemplar of Charles II, personally directing the firefighting efforts. Can anyone imagine a modern American making this sort of equivocation?

Practically speaking, even if (1) the legitimate bloodlines could be traced and (2) the property restored, the institution itself is utterly gone, reduced, as Taki notes, to a purely ceremonial role. The extant order and all existing public property claims would have to disappear, and some putative neo-monarch start again from Year Zero. Not impossible, but extremely unlikely.

As they say, you can't go home again.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Additional thoughts on Penn State

If we accept that homosexuals are likewise humans with normal sex drives, just a different orientation, then it makes no more sense to allow them unsupervised access to same-sex adolescents and teens than it does to allow heterosexual men unsupervised access to female adolescents and teens. Eventually, somebody is going to end up squeezing the Charmin. I don't know why there are vociferous efforts to deflect this debate toward pedophilia, which is a very different disorder, or to institutional "accountability," as if the prime directive of elite college football programs is to detect homosexuals' efforts to nest elaborate constructs which enable sex with easily-manipulated youths in their midst. Perhaps this deflection is entirely innocuous. Perhaps instead the homosexual lobby wants this debate squelched before it becomes apparent that sex with young post-pubescents, whose hormone-wracked bodies are in a state of nascent sexuality, is a particularized expression of the reproductive urge. I am willing to have the former hypothesis proved, but I'd bet that even the necessary data-gathering would be discouraged if not forbidden.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Elitism and meritocracy

David Brooks is puzzled:
Through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Protestant Establishment sat atop the American power structure. A relatively small network of white Protestant men dominated the universities, the world of finance and even high government service.

Over the past half century, a more diverse and meritocratic elite has replaced the Protestant Establishment. People are more likely to rise on the basis of grades, test scores, effort and performance.

Yet, as this meritocratic elite has taken over institutions, trust in them has plummeted. It's not even clear that the brainy elite is doing a better job of running them than the old boys' network. Would we say that Wall Street is working better now than it did 60 years ago? Or government? The system is more just, but the outcomes are mixed. The meritocracy has not fulfilled its promise.

For starters, it is arguable whether the old boys' network wasn't replaced with a meritocracy so much as it was an affirmative action pageant, and wreckers whose primary interests are to line their own pockets and deconstruct Anglo-America.

When America was a 90% Anglo-Saxon polity, the interests of its WASP elite were largely aligned with the interests of its non-elite classes. Immigrants faced a stark choice: buy into the American ethos or be marginalized. The WASP elite was essentially proprietary. They ascended the ladder by being WASPs, a genetic and cultural trait they shared with the majority of their countrymen. While considered unjust by current norms, such a system had the advantage of insuring more commonality of interest between elite and non-elite. In the same sense, a hereditary noble could command the loyalties of what were, in a genetic and proprietary sense, his people. NB: When Europe's royal lines started coalescing into an inbred, pan-European ubermensch, the nobility lost much of their legitimacy. This is not a new idea. Israeli kings who took foreign wives were considered a big problem under the Old Testament.

Steve Sailer has remarked that Brooks (whom Sailer assures is a regular reader of his blog) has an excellent grasp of the issues, but then has to do backflips to reach the politically correct conclusion. Brooks is true to form here:
[T]oday's elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys' network did possess...The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

Today's elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.

If you read the emails from the Libor scandal you get the same sensation you get from reading the emails in so many recent scandals: These people are brats; they have no sense that they are guardians for an institution the world depends on; they have no consciousness of their larger social role.

Brooks cannot allow himself to reach the simpler and more elegant explanation: modern elites have no proprietary sense for an inter-generational institution larger than themselves because, obviously, they are not in any generational line. It would be crimethink for Brooks to accept that 1) the old system was not actually broken, and 2) the new system inherently is.
The difference between the Hayes view and mine is a bit like the difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution. He wants to upend the social order. I want to keep the current social order, but I want to give it a different ethos and institutions that are more consistent with its existing ideals.
Brooks's handwaving "solution" (i.e., safely free of all practical detail) cannot work because he offers nothing of substance to which any elite loyalties can attach: the Christian Faith, the Buddhist Faith, the English, Israeli, Turkish nation. Consequently, the elite's default loyalty is toward preserving a process that is really not good for much beyond lining their own pockets.

UPDATE: Sailer has focused his smarter and better-connected mind on Brooks's column as well. He reads it as a thinly veiled homily addressed to Brooks's fellow Jews to for-God's-sake stop raping the country that has provided you with so much opportunity.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Independent Inquiry: Penn State Does An Awful Job Running Foster Care Program

Ad Orientem: Independent Inquiry Slams Penn State

Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and the senior leadership at the university covered up incidents of child sexual abuse on the Penn State campus by a former assistant football coach, showing “total disregard for the safety and welfare of the victims,” a team of investigators concluded in findings released Thursday morning. Former FBI director Louis Freeh, who along with his law firm conducted an independent review of the circumstances surrounding the scandal, blamed Paterno and university officials in his report for “catastrophic failures” that were reinforced by a Board of Trustees that had failed to create an environment of accountability.
This is actually deflection of the worst and most disingenuous kind. It is hardly surprising that executives running big-time college football simply had no clue how to deal with a homosexual co-executive who pretextually nested a program for "at-risk youths" (i.e., pederast feeding ground) in the middle of their athletic department.

The moral agency is not in dispute; these men are gravely culpable. But they spend 80 hours a week running big-time college athletics, not assuming that their old pal Jerry Sandusky is actually building an elaborate construct to enable sex with youngsters.

Freeh's report pins the blame on failure "to create an environment of accountability," as if that has anything remotely to do with the institutional mission of Penn State Football. This allows him to avoid ruffling important feathers over the root hazard: allowing homosexual men intimate access with male adolescents and teenagers.