Monday, October 24, 2005

Here and There . . .

An irregular roundup of blogs, articles and commentary.

From the Journals / Periodicals

  • Noam Chomsky: Capitalist - Peter Schweitzer at Tech Central Station profiles "the world's leading intellectual":
    Indeed, Chomsky is rich precisely because he has been such an enormously successful capitalist. Despite the anti-profit rhetoric, like any other corporate capitalist he has turned himself into a brand name. As John Lloyd puts it, writing critically in the lefty New Statesman, Chomsky is among those "open to being 'commodified' -- that is, to being simply one of the many wares of a capitalist media market place, in a way that the badly paid and overworked writers and journalists for the revolutionary parties could rarely be."
    Scary enough, I used to be a heavy imbiber of Noam Chomsky back in the day. The article is excerpted from his forthcoming book Do As I Say (Not As I Do) : Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy (Doubleday, 2005).

  • Michael Fumento raises a glass to adult stem cells, hailing an "Imperial College report in The New Scientist that they have repaired patients' own damaged livers by using bone marrow adult stem cells collected from their own blood." (Michael Fumento was previously mentioned in our blog on "the stem cell cover-up" Against the Grain August 18, 2004).

  • The Overpraised American, by Christine Rosen. Policy Review No. 133 Oct/Nov. 2005 -- revisiting the curmudgeonly critique of Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism.

  • Technology and the Spirit of Ownership, by Paul J. Cella The New Atlantis Number 9, Summer 2005, pp. 55-64:
    or the past few years, President George W. Bush has promoted the ideal of an “ownership society,” and advanced a number of specific policy proposals that aim to broaden and deepen personal wealth. While the catch-phrase is new, the ideal is not, and it has much deeper roots and purposes than simply “saving Social Security.” Property was central to the American founding, and it remains central to America’s economic, social, and moral way of life. An ownership society naturally resists the encroachment of despotism, clings to its liberty jealously, and guards against the particular distempers of the technological age. It is this last purpose of property that most interests me here: private property as a moral and social corrective to the potential excesses of modern technology. . . .
  • Europe, America and Politics Without God Interview with Paul Belien. The Brussels Journal Oct. 16, 2005.

  • What does the Church teach on the death penalty? Archbishop Chaput, Oct. 9, 2005:
    Catholic teaching on euthanasia, the death penalty, war, genocide and abortion are rooted in the same concern for the sanctity of the human person. But these different issues do not all have the same gravity or moral content. They are not equivalent.

    War can sometimes be legitimate as a form of self-defense. The same can apply, in extraordinary circumstances, to the death penalty. But euthanasia is always an inexcusable attack on the weak. Genocide is always the premeditated murder of entire groups of people. And abortion is always a deliberate assault on a defenseless and innocent unborn child. It can never be justified. It is always — and intrinsically — gravely wrong.

    What Catholic teaching on the death penalty does involve is this: a call to set aside unnecessary violence, including violence by the state, in the name of human dignity and building a culture of life.

    (Via Terry Mattingly @ GetReligion.

  • Andrew Bostom: The Legacy of Jihad. New York doctor "mugged by reality": "September 11, 2001 shocked me out of the complete absorption in my career in medicine and an accompanying uninformed complacency about world affairs. . . . The cataclysmic events of 9/11 had very little context for me, so I set out to learn about Islam, reading voraciously. Starting with the writings of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito (how naïve and ironic it seems in retrospect!), I became thoroughly dissatisfied, in short order, with the entire genre of thinly veiled, treacly apologetics, sadly characteristic of modern popular and “academic” works on Islam. So I began what has become a ceaseless endeavor to educate myself . . ." The book purports to be "a comprehensive history of jihad in theory and practice."

  • The Inequalities of Equality, or All Things Being Equal, Not Everything Can Be Equal, by Fr. James Schall. Ignatius Insight Oct. 12, 2005:
    . . . a whole intellectual industry is devoted to what I call "gapism." Any "gap" in income or talent or material goods between rich and poor, this nation or that, or this person and that, is said to be a sign of injustice, imbalance, or evil. While this view practically ignores the whole history of how wealth came to be produced and distributed in the first place, the thesis is constantly repeated as if it were obvious, which it isn’t. As a result, we inaugurate agonizing crusades to right the imbalances. Massive efforts in unequal taxation and discriminatory policy initiatives are set in motion whereby these "gaps" are to be leveled down so that those who are said to suffer under them can feel more "equal."

    Interestingly enough, studies in the history of envy show that often envy, the spiritual vice associated with equality and inequality, is more prevalent when people are more nearly equal than when they are not. This fact suggests that this "gap" analysis is missing something fundamental about human nature. Indeed, chances are that if we took a given population and somehow made them, on a given day, absolutely equal in terms of income and property, after a few years we would return to see that, in the meantime, by normal workings of exchange, talent, energy, and effort, some would have more, others less. The same inequality would return. Some people will be horrified by this result. Others will understand that inequalities are themselves a normal part of the human condition, something that explains why elements of aristocracy, the distinction between virtue and lack of it, have always existed in every society. . . .

On a Lighter Note . . .

  • The saddest thing about the Bush Presidency is that it has ruined -- yes, ruined -- 'liberalCatholic's enjoyment of Handel's Messiah.

  • Reverse Triumphalism - Elliot Bougis has some delightful stories to tell:
    . . . part of my joy as a Catholic is knowing, in remarkably vivid anecdotes like these, that I have found a home as rumpled and as erratic as I am, a home as vastly idiosyncratic and unpredictable as the species it was established to seek and save.
  • Bono and Pope John Paul II, or more specifically, the Holy Father wearing The Fly's shades. A priceless photo, via Domenico Bettinelli, Jr..

  • I've mentioned it before and I'll say it again. regardless of our differences of opinion, I can nought but admire Chris Sullivan's skill for turning any conversation, no matter how obscure the topic, towards the question of the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. Tom (Disputations) critiques some theological elements of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, to which Sullivan comments:
    "In my view, [Lewis] was far too fond of violence, wars and killing. Only a man with a mistaken idea of Christ could give a lecture entitled "Why I Am Not a Pacifist". . . .

    I do find it interesting that movies are being made in a "Christian" empire in a time of war about "Christian" novels which are full of war. Coincidence or part of the war propaganda?"

    Incredible. (Via Mark Shea.

  • Attention class! -- IowaHawk, one of the funniest bloggers on the web, is giving lessons on How to Blog Good. (See also Part II).

  • Quotes.Watchtower.Ca - "devoted to collecting and preserving interesting and/or significant quotes from the publications of the Watch Tower Society, without additional commentary or editorial, for the purpose of scholarship and research." That said, it offers hours of entertainment for those into -- in the words of Fr. Tucker -- "Good, clean, apocolyptic fun!"

  • Cat Haikus from Alicia (Fructus Ventris). "If you can't relate to this, your cat might be dead".

  • First Miracle of John Paul II?

  • Simon @ 75° South blogs a five-parter on Antartic Camping. Simon resides at the Haley Research Station, British Antartic Survey. He blogs on his work and life in general in one of the most desolate and coldest places on earth.

  • Finally, I knew this day would come. Against the Grain would like to join the rest of our readers in welcoming Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus and company to the world of blogging, with the publication of On The Square: "Observations and Contentions" from the editors of First Things. I found it amusing that even in his opening post, the good father seeks to distance himself from the stigma of blogging:
    Andrew Sullivan – who could be a much nicer and more sensible person if he really tried – once remarked that, as the writer of "The Public Square", I was the world’s first blogger. That is not true.

    Items in a monthly magazine have, if not the quality of timelessness, a longer shelf life. Plus, people don’t get to talk back, which is fine with me. Except, of course, when they write to-the-point letters to the editor. In short, with this new feature I am not delivering myself to the torrent of endless chatter that is the imperious kingdom of the blog. . . .

    Yet, for all intents and purposes, what else is "On the Square" but a blog?

    Let's hope that, in time, Fr. Neuhaus will test the waters of online discourse, and find himself comfortable enough to engage the Catholic and/or ecumenical blogging community in conversation . . . I'm personally anticipating his first encounter with the delightful Fr. Jape and staff of The New Pantagreuel. =)

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