Saturday, November 30, 2013

J.S. Bach's Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland Performed by the Arnold Schoenberg Chor & Concentus Musicus Wien Directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt

For the First Sunday of Advent, for which it was written. "Now come, Savior of the heathens."
    Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
    Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt!
    Dass sich wundre alle Welt,
    Gott solch' Geburt ihm bestellt.

    Nicht von Mann's Blut noch von Fleisch,
    Allein von dem Heil'gen Geist
    Ist Gott's Wort worden ein Mensch
    Und blüht ein' Frucht Weibesfleisch.

    Der Jungfrau Leib schwanger ward,
    Doch blieb Keuschheit rein bewahrt,
    Leucht't hervor manch' Tugend schön,
    Gott da war in seinem Thron.

    Er ging aus der Kammer sein,
    Dem kön'glichen Saal so rein,
    Gott von Art und Mensch ein Held,
    Sein'n Weg er zu laufen eilt.

    Sein Lauf kam vom Vater her
    Und kehrt' wieder zum Vater,
    Fuhr hinunter zu der Höll'
    Und wieder zu Gottes Stuhl.

    Der du bist dem Vater gleich,
    Führ' hinaus den Sieg im Fleisch,
    Dass dein' ew'ge Gott'sgewalt
    In uns das krank' Fleisch erhalt'.

    Dein' Krippe glaenzt hell und klar,
    Die Nacht gibt ein neu Licht dar,
    Dunkel mus nicht kommen drein,
    Der Glaub' bleibt immer im Schein.

    Lob sei Gott dem Vater g'tan,
    Lob sei Gott sein'm ein'gen Sohn,
    Lob sei Gott dem Heil'gen Geist
    Immer und in Ewigkeit.
    Now come, Saviour of the gentiles,
    recognised as the child of the Virgin,
    so that all the world is amazed
    God ordained such a birth for him.

    Not from man’s flesh and blood
    but only from the Holy Spirit
    has God’s Word became man
    and flourishes as the fruit of a woman’s body.

    The virgin’s body was pregnant,
    but her chastity remained pure,
    in this way her many virtues shine clearly,
    God was there on his throne.

    He went forth from his chamber,
    from the royal palace so pure,
    by nature God and man, a hero,
    he hastens to run his way.

    His course came from the Father
    and leads back to the Father,
    he went down to Hell
    and back to God’s throne.

    You who are equal to the Father,
    be victorious in the flesh
    so that your eternal divine power
    may support our weak flesh.

    Your crib shines bright and clear,
    in the night there is a new light,
    darkness must not overpower it,
    faith remains always radiant.

    Praise be given to God the Father,
    praise be to God his only Son;
    praise be to god the Holy Ghost
    for ever and always.

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Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Botti, Billy Childs, Robert Hurst, Billy Kilson, and Roberto Lumbambo Perform Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things"

Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War was not my only Black Friday gift to myself; I also bought Yo-Yo Ma's MMVIII Songs of Joy & Peace, whence comes the above number, liking as I do quality secular holiday songs as background music during Advent.

"In recent times," Wikipedia tells us on its "My Favorite Things" page, "due to the winter-related imagery in the lyrics, it has become popular as a Christmas song." I had no idea, but it makes sense, and this is a great song from the Great American Songbook. (Plus, The Sound of Music (1965) is currently my ten-year-old daughter's favorite film.) Chris Botti's rendition can't hold a candle, much less an advent candle, to John Coltrane's, but it's good background music, like the rest of this album.

Maestro Ma, despite his great talent, seems best at making background music, at least when he goes beyond the strictly classical tradition. I've been a fan ever since he recorded the works of Astor Piazzolla, and The Goat Rodeo Sessions got some great people together, including Chris Thile. But what of all this travelling the world in search of different traditions and trying to embed himself within them?

Maestro Ma, an American born in France to Chinese parents, is a true cosmopolitan, which Henry James in The Portrait of a Lady defined as "a little of everything and not much of any." He couldn't be anything else given his background, and this background gives him a chance to introduce some good things to us, but he always seems a bit of an outsider, an interloper almost, when he sits in on these sessions (that he organizes with his money and connections) with local musicians from wherever.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Chris Thile & Michael Daves Perform "Richmond Is a Hard Road to Travel"

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Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War

The New Beginning posts the National[ist] Public Radio story I heard on the commute home about the just released collection of songs from the War of Northern Agression / War Between The States / Civil War, my Black Friday gift to myself — Divided & United. From ATO Records, three "short films" on the album:

The double-album "includes refreshed versions—sometimes radically refreshed versions—of old chesnuts," says Prof. Robert Wilentz in the liner notes. Noting that none of the "singers and players is interested in historical reenactment," he continues,
    That kind of imitation dulls the imagination required to bring old songs to life. The trick is to merge your own evolved style and sensibility—personal and up-to-date, even though ineffably connected to the past—with your sense of what the songs meant then and what they might mean now. When that happens, the singing or playing can open a spirtiual channel in which it could be 1863 or 2013 or any year at all in between. The process defies rational explanation—I can't explain it, anyway—but I've experienced it enough to respect and have faith in it.
Amen. Music that is "personal and up-to-date, even though ineffably connected to the past," is what I listen to (and attempt to play), and many of this blogger's musical heroes appear on this album: Del McCoury, Sam Amidon, Old Crow Medicine Show, Steve Earle, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Chris Thile, Pokey LaFarge, Jorma Kaukonen, who got me into this whole genre in the '80s, and Dr. Ralph Stanley, who, Prof. Wilentz reminds us, "was born a little more than 60 years after Appomattox, when a dwindling generation of grey-haired Johnny Rebs, Billy Yanks, and former slaves still talked about the war as if it was were yesterday."

There are a number of bigger names as well: Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton, Lee Ann Womack, and Taj Mahal. The most important man-behind-the-scenes, however, who backs a number of musicians on the album, is producer/musician Bryan Sutton, who is interviewed in the above videos and whom my family had the pleasure of seeing perform at the Shindig on the Green in Asheville, North Carolina, his hometown, this past summer; he was the only professional recording artist on the stage.

Prof. Wilentz says the album "presents a selection of this music that is exceptionally smart as well as moving." Moving it is, and profoundly so. From songs about confederate soldiers dying in dreary Yankee prisons dreaming of the Southland, to those about slaves awaiting the approaching armies of liberation, to ones about boys on both sides pining for their sweethearts and mothers back home, these songs bring home the apocalyptic mood that those who lived through that conflict must have felt as no history book or documentary ever could.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

J. S. Bach's Nun Danket Alle Gott Performed by Bożena Bujnicka, Piotr Kedziorek, Chór Kameralny Collegium Vocale Bednarska, Orkestra Barokowa Collegium Vocale Bednarska, Directored by Anton Birula

    Nun danket alle Gott
    Mit Herzen, Mund und Händen,
    Der große Dinge tut
    An uns und allen Enden,
    Der uns von Mutterleib
    Und Kindesbeinen an
    Unzählig viel zu gut
    Bis hier her hat getan.

    Der ewig reiche Gott
    Woll uns bei unsrem Leben
    Ein immer fröhlich Herz
    Und edlen Frieden geben,
    Und uns in seiner Gnad,
    Erhalten fort und fort
    Und uns aus aller Not
    Erlösen hier und dort.

    Lob, Ehr und Preis sei Gott,
    Dem Vater und dem Sohne
    Und dem, der beiden gleich
    Im höchsten Himmelsthrone,
    Dem einig höchsten Gott,
    Als er anfänglich war
    Und ist und bleiben wird
    Jetzt und immerdar.
    Now all thank God
    with heart, mouth and hands;
    He does great things
    for us and all our purposes;
    He for us from our mother's womb
    and childish steps
    countless great good
    has done and still continues to do.

    May God who is forever rich
    be willing to give us in our life
    a heart that is always joyful
    and noble peace
    and in his mercy
    maintain us for ever and ever
    and free us from all distress
    here and there (both on earth and in heaven).

    Glory, honour and praise be to God,
    to the Father and to the Son
    and to Him, who is equal to both
    on heaven's high throne,
    to the triune God,
    as he was from the beginning
    and is and will remain
    now and forever.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arcade Fire Perform The Clash's "The Guns Of Brixton"

    When they kick in your front door / How you gonna come?
    With your hands on your head / Or on the trigger of your gun?
Bill Kauffman, down the road at the Alexander Charity Gun Show notes, "While huffy displays of bravado are rare, some of these men—and women—have pondered the question once posed by The Clash," in the article linked to in the post below this one — The Guns of Upstate.

Continues Brixtonian Paul Simonon, in his greatest contribution to his great band:
    When the law breaks in / How you gonna go?
    Shot down on the pavement / Or waiting on death row?
Here's another hurdy-gurdy band from the same province, which borders this state, posted earlier on these pages — Le Vent Du Nord Perform "Les Amants du Saint Laurent," "Au Bord de la Fontaine," "Dans la Prison de l'Ombre," & "Tour à Bois".

Note to self: put a hurdy-gurdy, and maybe even a megaphone (Butthole Surfers, anyone?), next to the .30-06 already on the Christmas wish list.

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The Guns of Upstate

Bill Kauffman, my homeboy (in the War Between the States sense of the word), on "the red, white, and blue placards that have dominated rural New York for months now and that read REPEAL NY’S SAFE ACT," referring to the "the panicked response to the Connecticut school shooting by Governor Andrew Cuomo (Mario without the intellect or introspection) and an urban-suburban controlled legislature" — What Rural America Is For.

Not mentioned by Mr. Kauffman, these bumper stickers are also quite popular in these parts:

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cantus Performs "Simple Gifts"

New York's Shakers gave us this hymn, which seems à propos as we approach Thanksgiving Day.
    'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
    'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
    And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

    When true simplicity is gain'd,
    To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
    To turn, turn will be our delight,
    Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

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The Latent Lover

The Sigma Male (Σ ♂) and/or the Bad Orthodox Catholic, two archetypes described on these pages, might count themselves among the first of the "three identifiable categories" of "men [who] do have real friendships with women, but [who], by virtue (or vice) of their talents with the ladies have difficulty building solid friendships with other men," taxonimized by the Mâitre d’Chateau here — The Types Of Men Who Befriend Girls Easily:
    The classic sneaky fucker, minus the malevolence. This guy is charming, challenging, and a pro at making women feel sexually alive. His MO is to flirt with every woman who passes the threshold of bangability. He loves the company of women because he genuinely loves the peculiar qualities of femaleness. Married, single, feminist, feminine… he seduces them all, though he may not necessarily have sex as a goal in mind. He loves the lip-licking, hair-tossing, heel-dangling, cheek-blushing, pupil-dilating, mannerism-mirroring reactions of women who delight in his dispensations.

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Best Comeback Ever?

"When asked on his deathbed by a priest if he renounced the Devil," Taki Theodoracopulos says of Voltaire, "he responded that this was no time to make new enemies" — The Art of the Comeback.

Great comeback, but I'm afraid it was the Devil who had the last laugh.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ramones Peform "Surfin' Bird"

"Everybody's heard that the bird is the word" came to mind as a good exemplar to help my eight-year-old improve his rhoticity, i.e. proper pronunciation of our "dialect or variety of English, e.g., Midwestern American English, in which r is pronounced before a consonant (as in hard) and at the ends of words (as in far)." I also had him correct my faux Bostonian rendering of the notorious "park the car in Harvard Yard" shibboleth.

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Rev. Al Sharpton Calls "Knockout Game" "Insane Thuggery"

And says, "We would not be silent if it was the other way around," quoted by Jim Goad here — Hunting the Domestic Polar Bear. The media are at long last no longer silent.

Mr. Goad, reporting on "the media’s sudden willingness to talk about it," says "And not only are they talking, they’ve also dropped dog whistles such as 'youths' and 'teens' and are openly noting the assailants’ and victims’ race. What was the tipping point?" he asks, later answering that "it seems this only became a national story when Jewish leaders spoke up and demanded action after a string of attacks in Brooklyn that left multiple Jewish victims." Mr. Goad continues,
    These scrappy Tribesmen may not have fought back with their fists, but they used every other available blunt instrument to finally make this a national story. Non-Jewish whites could learn a lesson from such tenacious group solidarity.

    Failing that, they could take a tip from the unnamed 40-year-old white man in Michigan who turned the tables on 17-year-old Marvell Weaver and planted two .40-caliber bullets in his ass. Street animals are less likely to pounce on those who haven’t been entirely tamed.
Perhaps this Michigander had heard the advice from "Black Atlanta radio host T. J. Sotomayor," who, proving himself wiser than the "Wise Latina" with whom he shares a surname, "recorded a 16-minute video where he says white people should counter the Knockout Game with one called Shootout Game."

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hendrik Andriessen's Kyrie and Gloria from Missa Christus Rex, Performed by the Haarlem St. Bavo Cathedral Choir, the Barbers & Bishops, and Ton van Eck, Directed by Fons Ziekman

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Bad Orthodox Catholic

Throne and Altar's Bonald has a must-read post not quite in praise of, but at least in sympathy with, "the half-practicing, openly sinning, 'give me chastity, but not yet' kind" of Catholic" — The end of the orthodox bad Catholic. Several people came to this blog from that post. I thought maybe Bonald was on to me! I am, however, not specifically mentioned, although I could well be offered up as a prime example of the species. Instead, he offers himself as an example.

After debuking "[t]he stereotype of traditionalist or just orthodox Catholics as 'pharisees' and 'Pelagians'–that is, obsessed with rules and puffed up with pride over their supposed spiritual superiority to average sinners, whom they despise as reprobates," Bonald reminds us that "it [is] become[ing] less and less possible to be a bad orthodox Catholic and think one can avoid going all the way for either God or the devil," and asks us to "remember that most Catholics have chosen the way of heresy instead, adjusting their beliefs to match their behavior rather than vice versa." An excpert:
    Like the Mexican priest in The Power and the Glory, Catholicism’s worst representative finds that he must shape up, because he’s getting to be Catholicism’s only representative. If you’re the only person in your workplace who believes that contraception is a sin, for example, it’s kind of important that you not be contracepting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bad ambassador for chastity; you’re all there is.
In addition to the Graham Greene, his The End of the Affair, is a great work of bad orthodox Catholicism, as is Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and Flannery O'Connor's A Temple of the Holy Ghost, to name but one of her stories that falls into this category. And what about Walker Percy, whose protagonist in Love in the Ruins laments, “Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?”

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

J.S. Bach's "Mass in B minor" Performed by the Capella Reial Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations, Directed by Jordi Savall

The New Beginning posts an article reminiscent of Matthew XII: 57, Mark VI: 4, and Luke IV: 24; "Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country" — Jordi Savall: "En España no interesa mi trabajo".

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The Prophet Aldous Huxley

"On 22 November 1963 the world was too preoccupied with the Kennedy assassination to pay much attention to the passing of two writers from the other side of the Atlantic: CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley," reminds The Guardian's John Naughton — Aldous Huxley: the prophet of our brave new digital dystopia.

The author, remidning us that "one of the ironies of history is that visions of our networked future can be bracketed by the imaginative nightmares of Huxley and his fellow Etonian George Orwell," continues,
    Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley's nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us.

    Huxley was a child of England's intellectual aristocracy. His grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, the Victorian biologist who was the most effective evangelist for Darwin's theory of evolution. (He was colloquially known as "Darwin's Bulldog".) His mother was Matthew Arnold's niece. His brother, Julian and half-brother Andrew both became distinguished biologists. In the circumstances it's not surprising that Aldous turned out to be a writer who ranged far beyond the usual preoccupations of literary folk – into history, philosophy, science, politics, mysticism and psychic exploration. His biographer wrote: "He offered as his personal motto the legend hung around the neck of a ragged scarecrow of a man in a painting by Goya: Aún aprendo. I am still learning." He was, in that sense, a modern Voltaire.

    Brave New World was published in 1932. The title comes from Miranda's speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest: "Oh, wonder! / How many goodly creatures are there here! / How beauteous mankind is! Oh brave new world, / That has such people in't."

    It is set in the London of the distant future – AD 2540 – and describes a fictional society inspired by two things: Huxley's imaginative extrapolation of scientific and social trends; and his first visit to the US, in which he was struck by how a population could apparently be rendered docile by advertising and retail therapy. As an intellectual who was fascinated by science, he guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that scientific advances would eventually give humans powers that had hitherto been regarded as the exclusive preserve of the gods. And his encounters with industrialists like Alfred Mond led him to think that societies would eventually be run on lines inspired by the managerial rationalism of mass production ("Fordism") – which is why the year 2540 AD in the novel is "the Year of Our Ford 632".

    In the novel Huxley describes the mass production of children by what we would now call in vitro fertilisation; interference in the development process of infants to produce a number of "castes" with carefully modulated levels of capacities to enable them to fit without complaining into the various societal and industrial roles assigned to them; and Pavlovian conditioning of children from birth.

    In this world nobody falls ill, everyone has the same lifespan, there is no warfare, and institutions and marriage and sexual fidelity are dispensed with. Huxley's dystopia is a totalitarian society, ruled by a supposedly benevolent dictatorship whose subjects have been programmed to enjoy their subjugation through conditioning and the use of a narcotic drug – soma – that is less damaging and more pleasurable than any narcotic known to us. The rulers of Brave New World have solved the problem of making people love their servitude.

    Which brings us back to the two Etonian bookends of our future. On the Orwellian front, we are doing rather well – as the revelations of Edward Snowden have recently underlined. We have constructed an architecture of state surveillance that would make Orwell gasp. And indeed for a long time, for those of us who worry about such things, it was the internet's capability to facilitate such comprehensive surveillance that attracted most attention.

    In the process, however, we forgot about Huxley's intuition. We failed to notice that our runaway infatuation with the sleek toys produced by the likes of Apple and Samsung – allied to our apparently insatiable appetite for Facebook, Google and other companies that provide us with "free" services in exchange for the intimate details of our daily lives – might well turn out to be as powerful a narcotic as soma was for the inhabitants of Brave New World. So even as we remember CS Lewis, let us spare a thought for the writer who perceived the future in which we would come to love our digital servitude.

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The American Conservative, Noam Chomsky

An appreciation by Matthew M. Robare — American Anarchist.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Lumineers Perform "Big Parade"

I have read it said that this song evokes the JFK Era, but it is their "Charlie Boy" that specifically says, "Kennedy made him believe we could do much more."

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Lth Anniversary of American Coup d'État

Below, a reposting of my review of a "remarkable story [that] confirmed the way I view the world, but changed the way I view President Kennedy."
    Supplying the Motive Behind the Murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    Until reading James W. Douglass' JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, I had never given the assassination of the thirty-fifth president much thought. He was, I thought, just as much of an empty suit as our current president and just as much a philanderer as the previous member of his party to occupy the Oval Office. Why would anyone besides a lone nut have wanted him dead?

    Mr. Douglass, a theologian, proves beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Kennedy had a conversion experience after the Cuban Missile Crisis and became a heretic to what the author calls "Cold War theology." John F. Kennedy's co-conspirator was none other than Nikita Khrushchev, with whom he maintained a secret correspondance. Both leaders faced fierce opposition within their own governments; one was assassinated and the other ousted the following year.

    Mr. Douglass, whose last chapter has 937 footnotes, delves into the conspiracy behind the presidential murder in great detail. It becomes clear that it was an inside job. (Either that, or Lee Harvey Oswald was at the head of a vast conspiracy involving hundreds of people, many of whom would sacrifice their own lives, organized to makes us believe he was the "pasty" he claimed to be.)

    One of the most interesting features of the book is its structure: rather than a straight chronological narrative, the main events are revisited again and again, each time offering deeper insights. For example, while we learn early in the book about the above-mentioned secret correspondance, we do not learn of the bold proposal that would have effectively ended the Cold War (and put a lot of powerful people out of work) until the very last pages.

    "A remarkable story that changed the way I view the world," said Flags of Our Fathers author James Bradley of the book. For me, this remarkable story confirmed the way I view the world, but changed the way I view President Kennedy, and I am thankful for that.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Run Boy Run —"So Sang the Whippoorwill," "Hoot Owl," & "Little Girl"

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Meth City, U.S.A.

On is posted a very, very sad documentary — The City Addicted to Crystal Meth: The Methamphetamine Zombie Apocalypse in Fresno.

I've seen two of Englishman Louis Theroux's* American documentaries, one about Southern California's porn industry and one about the Westboro Baptist Church, in both of which the subjects are rightly mocked, usually without understanding they are being mocked.

No mocking, only compassion, in this story; it's just too tragic. The common denominator is women with "daddy issues" and the broken families and abandoned kids. Tragic. Just ask my sister, and my niece and two nephews, still torn apart a decade by this plague, not far from the city in the documentary.

* I had no idea until today that he was the son of American novelist and travel-writer Paul Theroux, whose Saint Jack and The Consul's File entertained and informed me while living in what had been British Malaya.

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How the Church's Abolition of Roman Slavery Lead to Rise of the West

Freeman Perspective's Paul Rosenberg, himself "not particularly in love with profit for its own sake," reminds us that "a reflexive condemnation of profit is deeply ignorant" and that "'profit' killed the ancient abomination of human slavery" — What the World would be Like Without Capitalism. An excerpt:
    What is not understood is that slavery was the foundation of economics in the old world – such as in Greece and Rome.

    Slavery was almost entirely about surplus. (Surrounded by creative justifications, of course.) It was a type of enforced thrift.

    An undeveloped man, left to himself, will spend almost all of what he earns. If he does earn some surplus, he’ll likely spend it on luxuries, frivolities, or worse. Until he develops a strong character, little of his surplus will remain for other uses.

    A slave, on the other hand, never holds his earnings in his hands and therefore cannot spend them. All surplus is transferred to his or her owner. It was precisely this kind of surplus that made Rome rich.

    But then Christian Europe came about. Prior to that, I cannot point to a single ancient culture that forbade the practice; it was seen as normal. So, for Europe to expel the slavery it inherited from Rome was a monumental change.

    Europeans replaced slavery – slowly and because of their Christian principles, not because of a conscious plan – by doing these things:

      1. Developing personal thrift. This required a strong focus on building up virtues like temperance (self-control) and patience.

      2. Replacing the enforced surplus of slavery with profit. That is, by mixing creativity in with their commerce: innovating, inventing, and adapting to get more surplus out of commerce.

    Under a new system that was eventually tagged capitalism, thrift and creativity generated surplus, and no human beings had to be enslaved.
Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America and Thomas Woods in How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization emphasize that this "monumental change" Holy Mother Church engendered by ending slavery in Europe is largely forgotten.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

J. S. Bach's Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben & Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme Performed by Lisa Larsson, Elisabeth von Magnus, Lothar Odinius, Klaus Mertens, and The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Directed by Ton Koopman

Both cantatas we will hear tonight at 7:30 performed by the Cantata Ensemble at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, for free, one of the perks of living in the city that hosts the Eastman School of Music.

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Rochester and Capitalism

Today at long last we visited the Public Market, in operation since 1827, where I had a bit of an epiphany about the free-market's power to bring people together for mutual benefit, not to mention Bill McKibbenesque conversation. I remain a disbeliever in the Multikulti ideology, but nowhere else have I seen folks as divergent as East Africans and Amish gathered peacefully for the same purpose.

The prices are super cheap, and the market's clientele is local, meaning urban and poor, precisely the people who need more, not less capitalism. As G. K. Chesterton said, "The problem with capitalism is not too many capitalists, but not enough capitalists." It was heartening to see among the immigrant entrepreneurs so many of our Black fellow citizens not only gainfully employed, but gainfully self-employed.

Our next stop was the High Falls Visitors Center and Museum, in the neighborhood where Brown's Race, "a small power canal that was constructed in 1815 [and] used to power water wheels for various mills that were built in and around the cliffs just north (up-river) of the High Falls on the west side of the Genesee River," brought the Industrial Revolution to these parts and made the "Flour City" one of America's first boomtowns. We crossed the Pont De Rennes bridge for a better view of the magnificent High Falls and the even more magnificent Genesee Brewing Company.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sarah Jarosz Performs "Annabelle Lee"

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"Warrior/pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet," reads the IMDb tagline to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), which I saw with the family earlier this evening. I have not had such a crush on a cartoon character since watching Tangled (2010).

This is only the second Hayao Miyazaki film I have seen, the first being Spirited Away (2001), despite my smart students at the Pohang University of Science and Technology always singing the praises of the director's humanism, his strong heroines, his love of aviation, and his amazing creativity. Both films I saw as they were made to be seen, on the silver screen, here in Rochester.

The latter film seems to have been the more successful, both commercially and critically, but I prefer the earlier film. Shinto informs the 2001 film, Pure Land Buddhism the 1984 film. Nausicaä herself is a Christ figure, and owes a lot to St. Joan of Arc. The film's environmentalist message is early enough not to be dismissed with cynicism. This is simply a great movie.

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The American Attitude Toward War

In 1943, libertarian founding mother Rose Wilder Lane in The Discovery of Freedom could write rightly that "like most Americans I had taken it for granted that no one wants war," that "Americans hate war because it kills men and destroys property," and that war was "an active, destructive denial of the facts of human life, the facts of individual liberty and human brotherhood."

Could she write the same thing today? I think she could. I have hope in our people. We are still fundamentally the same. She could write this, and it would still be true, but the media, controlled by you-know-who, would do their best to bury it (and maybe her).

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Americanist Heresiarch

"How Lincoln forged a civil religion of American nationalism," rightly explained by The American Conservative's Richard Gamble — Gettysburg Gospel. The author calls the famous speech an "empty vessel [into which] Lincoln poured the 19th-century’s potent ideologies of nationalism, democratism, and romantic idealism."

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Reapers Over the Burned-Over District

Chilling that I have to learn from RT and not a local source that "drone flights have been grounded in Central New York after one of the craft crashed into Lake Ontario" — Drone Flights Suspended in NY After Crash.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

J.S. Bach's Freue dich, erlöste Schar, Performed by Bach Collegium Japan, Directed by Masaaki Suzuki

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind at The Little Tomorrow

The Little Theatre will show tomorrow Hayao Miyazaki's 1984 film to kick off its Science on Screen series, "which creatively pairs screenings of classic, cult, and documentary films with lively introductions by notable figures from the Rochester Institute of Technology specializing in various sciences, technology, and medicine." About tomorrow's screening and discussion:
    Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 Japanese animated post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Nausicaä is the first of the Science on Screen films to be shown at the Little Theatre – and it will be screened on a rare 35mm print!

    The film tells the story of Nausicaä, a young princess of the Valley of the Wind who gets involved in a struggle with Tolmekia, a kingdom that tries to use an ancient weapon to eradicate a jungle of mutant giant insects. Nausicaä must stop the Tolmekians from enraging these creatures. One of the first solo directing efforts for the master, Miyazaki, Nausicaä is a classic environmental monster fantasy epic with signature Miyazaki themes. Of course, the words “typical” and “Miyazaki” are rarely used in the same sentence, and Nausicaä is a precursor for Miyazaki’s future projects. It’s the way Miyazaki composes these archtypes – the courageous martyr/heroine, the valiant humble hero, the mystifying figure, the wiser hero, and a government empire seeking to destroy the land – that define his films. The heroine Nausicaä is a young, but wise beyond her years, princess who is beloved by the people of valley. Miyazaki paints her as an admirable character with a supporting cast of older characters who are revered for their wisdom.

    The post film discussion will focus on human sustainability and biological symbioses – a discussion of what the film’s themes can teach us about the role of natural ecology in both sustaining and withstanding the pressures of humanity. The discussion features two esteemed local experts in the field from our partner organization the Rochester Institute of Technology.

    Dr. Callie Babbitt, professor at the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, is an engineer and sustainability scientist researching how industrial processes and products can be innovated using natural ecosystems as an inspiration.

    Dr. Gregory A. Babbitt, professor of Biology and Computational Genomics, is a molecular evolutionary biologist with a strong side interest developed since childhood in insects and the microscopic world.

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Remember TySean, Forget Trayvon

The former will be forgotten because he was killed not by a "White Hispanic" but by a Black Hispanic and a fellow Black, an unoriginal way to be killed — Honor student shot, killed at home was not intended target & Teen, 15, defending grandma when slain. Seems like he was a good kid. May he rest in peace.

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Voting With Our Wallets

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sir John Tavener's "The Lamb" Sung by The Georgia Boy Choir

Sad news heard on the commute home today — Remembering 'Holy Minimalist' Composer John Tavener. Rest in peace. May you now "behold the lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world."

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Monday, November 11, 2013

James Yorkston Performs "Martinmas Time"

The traditional tune Martinmas Time sung by Scottish folk singer James Yorkston. A description of the song Martinmas Time:
    Troop of soldiers forces farmer's daughter to promise she will come to their quarters that night; she has her hair cut off and dresses in men's clothes. She goes to the soldiers' quarters, asking for lodgings for another troop of soldiers, but the quartermaster sends her away, saying there is no more room. She persists; he gives her money, for "tonight there comes a wench." She leaves her garters and ribbons tied to the gates to prove she'd been there, then blows a whistle, saying "you're not for a girl at all," and goes home in triumph.
"And she's galloped home a maiden," ends the song, the heroine's quick wits saving her from being gang-raped by our men in uniform, an à propos reminder of the true nature of militarism on a day on which we are now asked to support, nay, worship the troops as demigods.

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Martinmas and Armistice Day

In honor of both Saint Martin of Tours and Armistice Day, this blogger's traditional eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month posting of Simone Martini's 1321 fresco, "Saint Martin Renouncing the Sword."

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Peace in Our Land

Today marks the CCXIXth anniversary of the signing of the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794, just down the road a bit from here, "between the United States of America and the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy - Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora."

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Musica Intima Sing "O Canada"

We have returned safely from our travels in the foreign country whose anthem is sung above. Our trip began at Mount Carmel Spirtual Centre [sic], home to National Shrine of St. Therese, where we were blessed with the opportunity to pray before some relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

From there we walked down to the Horseshoe Falls for some sight-seeing, and then onto Michael's Inn, a steal at sixty loonies a night. [I had had the chance to call the last letter of the alphabet "zed" when reading a promotional code over the phone to these folks last week.] We supped early on Shin Ramyun in our quarters while watching curling on the telly.

We then walked over to Queen Victoria Park for the event that brought us there in the first place, the opening of the Winter Festival of Lights, this year's featuring Korean lanterns from the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival. Why Korea? "We’re celebrating the Year of Korea in Canada in honour [sic] of the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Korean War and the 50th Anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Canada and South Korea."

We were entertained by Brooklyn Roebuck, and up-and-coming sixteen-year-old country and western singer, and then by the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (whose renditions of the themes to Star Wars (1977) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) delighted the kids), accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display in the chasm that has separated our two lands thousands of years before the War of 1812 did.

Next day (I think Brits would drop the definite article) after a slow morning with some more sight-seeing and a stop to a souvenir shop, we drove north on Niagara Parkway, a drive Sir Winston Churchill called "the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world." (I guess he never drove the Blue Ridge Parkway.) "The Loveliest Town in Canada," Niagara-on-the-Lake, once capital of Upper Canada, was our destination.

On the way up, we stopped by Then Thousand Buddha Temple, which was under construction, if I remember correctly, when I left these parts for the Far East. On the way back, we stopped at the friendly River's Edge Family Restaurant for some cheap eats.

Finally, it was time to cross the border, and head to Goat Island and its famous Cave of the Winds Tours, and then back home, maybe to join the Rochester Curling Club...

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Nicolas Gombert's Missa Media Vita In Morte Sumus, Quam Pulchra Es, Ave Regina & Or Piangiamo Sung by The Hilliard Ensemble

An offering for this Month of the Souls in Purgatory, and a memorial for us in case we do not make it back from this weekend's foreign travel, to the Great White North.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ashley Monroe Performs "Like A Rose," "You Got Me," & "Weed Instead Of Roses"

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Okay Already, I'm Reading The Decameron Starting Tonight

There's no way anyone could not want to jump in to Giovanni Boccaccio's magnus opus, which has been languishing on my shelves across two continents over the past decade, after reading Joan Acocella's spirited review of what she calls "probably the dirtiest great book in the Western canon," whose "main theme [is] "unfraught sex, of a kind that has probably not been wholly comprehensible to Western people since the Reformation" — Renaissance Man. (Damned prots, spoiling "unfraught sex" for all of us since 1519!)

The little I knew about this work came from my exchange student days in the sister republic that lent her name to the neighboring town of Chili, New York, where in one of the capital's art house cinemas I saw the gay Pier Paolo Pasolini's soft-porn rendition of The Decameron (1971) (two decades after its release for the record). The film did not really impress me, unlike the director's stunning The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964).

Back to the subject of this post, you'd think Holy Mother Church would have raked Giovanni Boccaccio over the coals, right? Wrong. The Catholic Encyclopedia in 1917 had to say about Giovanni Boccaccio:
    The book with which Boccaccio's name is inseparably linked is the "Decameron", which was finished in 1353, but part of which had probably been written before the "Black Death" reached its height in 1348. The "Decameron" opens with a masterly description of the terrors of the pest, and we are then introduced to a gay company of seven ladies and three young men who have come together at a villa outside Naples to while away the time and to escape the epidemic. Each in turn presides for a day over the company and on each of the ten days each of the company tells a story, so that at the end one hundred stories have been told. It is difficult to say whether such a company as Boccaccio describes ever met. At all events, he says that he has taken pains to conceal the real names of the persons mentioned in the stories. There are reasons to believe, however, that Fiammetta is the same lady to whom Boccaccio has given that name in other works, while Dioneo may well represent Boccaccio himself.

    The great charm of the "Decameron" lies in the wonderful richness and variety of the adventures which he relates, in the many types of character and the close analysis of all shades of feeling and passion, from the basest to the noblest. The style is now Ciceronian, now that of the everyday speech of Florence. The sentence-structure is, to be sure, often involved and inverted, and it often requires several readings to enjoy a full understanding of the phrase. Boccaccio found the germs of his novelle in other literatures, in historic events, and in tradition, but, like Shakespeare, whatever he borrowed he made his own and living, by placing the adventures in the lives of his contemporaries. The indecency which is the greatest blot on the "Decameron", but to which it undoubtedly owes not a little of its celebrity, is no greater than is to be found elsewhere in medieval literature, and is due as much to the time and the circle in which the work was written as to the temperament of the author. He himself in his later years expressed deep repentance for the too free works of his youth; moreover, his jibes and anecdotes at the expense of clerics did not impair his belief in the teachings of the Church. Boccaccio's character was by no means a despicable one. He was a steadfast friend, a son who felt tenderly for his mother and never forgave his father for having abandoned her. He speaks with affection of his daughters who had died in childhood; it is not known who their mother was. He was a scholar of the first rank for his time, a man of independent character, and a good patriot.

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Words Fail

    Society can see us together. Not, "Oh, those are lovers, those are boyfriends, those are partners." Those words don’t work. . . . That definition gives us this extra context of, we are a couple.
So says Aleksey Kulikov of his "wedding" to Edwin Aparicio — Two artists wedded to flamenco.

I read those sentences with a sense of expectation. If they are not just "lovers," "boyfriends," or "partners," what could they be? Husbands? My best friend and I are husbands, to different wives, of course. That word just doesn't work, but it was the one I expected. Instead, we get "a couple." Pretty generic. Six thousand years of human history just does not have the vocabulary to describe something less than thirteen years old.


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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lisa Hannigan Performs "Little Bird"

I first fell in love with this colleen's music precisely at the 3:01 point in this performance of the same song — Lisa Hannigan and John Smith Perform "Little Bird".

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

He Said, She Said; Who-Whom; Rape, Race, and Rashōmon

All Hell has broken loose ever since "students Annie Robertson and Garvey-Malik Ashhurst-Watson met after a campus dance on a night they both had been drinking with friends" — Sarah Lawrence roiled by sex-assault claims.

The alleged victim "is white, from Morganton, N.C., and a lesbian," and the alleged perp "is black, and lives in Scarsdale, and his mother, the former president of Def Jam Recordings, works in the college’s advancement office." is also covering the story, from his angle, unsurprisingly — Son Of Former Def Jam President Accused Of Rape At New York College.

Race trumps gender, and "the case is not being criminally prosecuted." What if the races were reversed? [Duke lacrosse case, anyone? These posts ponder that question any intellectually honest person should be prepared to answer — "Imagine if the Races Were Reversed" and What If the Races Were Reversed?]

The alleged victim sealed her own fate (as an oppressor) in the court of public opinion when she published this online:
    How can you tell a woman she is safe when her body no longer belongs to her? When you are finally able to burn me at the stake, frame my ashes for your school’s distinction… Until then, I will be tying nooses with the strong cords of my voice. I will be hanging your boys up and invoking my no until the spirit takes them and their legs stop twitching.
He's black, remember. The alleged perp won his freedom in the court of public opinion with this:
    I suppose that when a young woman of her background accuses a young man from mine, in the area of this country where she is from that should be enough to take the freedom of the young man for a long time… Of course, we all know that a young white woman unjustly accusing a young black man of inappropriate sexual misconduct has happened in the past (a history of which we were all recently reminded in a poem written and publicly posted by my accuser). It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.
She's Southron, remember. Still, he's right that black men were hanged for consensual relationships with white women eager to protect their reputations.

The comments on the first article are inciting, but also insightful in that family members of both parties have opined. The mother of the alleged victim reminds us that "what the article fails to mention is that this young woman was a 21-year-old VIRGIN, because she never had nor wanted a man near her." That, I admit, gets to me. The alleged perp's mother posts her son's open letter and a co-racialist harps in, "What courage and steadfastness you and Garvey are demonstrating." That, I admit, kind of disgusts me. A white guy says, "This girl is lying." That, I admit, confuses me.

My gut reaction is to side with the alleged victim, but for reasons she, a nose-ringed liberal lesbian, herself would likely denounce as "tribal" and "patriarchal;" she could be my kid sister.

Reading on, though, things get murky: "Only when he turned her around and began sodomizing her did she tell him to stop, repeatedly, she said," reads the first article. "She admits that she never told Ashhurst-Watson to stop until after they both were naked and he began performing anal sex," reads the second.

Whatever foreplay they may or may not have engaged in, there is always a right at any point to withdraw consent from sodomy, or, for that matter, normal coitus. (I apologize to those who might be offended by the heteronormativity of that last statement, but I assert my right to state it as a member of a religious minority.)

But then, she has to say, "Consent is asking someone a question and getting a ‘yes.’ That didn’t happen." She is correct, of course, but her ready Feminist Theory sloganeering plants suspicions that this all may have been a honeytrap promotion of the "consent-o-gram" propaganda on university campuses.

We'll never know what happened in that room, and in earlier times we never would have. Even a master film-maker like Akira Kurosawa, whose Rashomon (1950), itself about differing accounts of a rape (and murder), gave us the Rashomon effect, used to "refer to contradictory interpretations of the same events by different persons, a problem that arises in the process of uncovering truth," can only take us so far.

I said that "[w]e'll never know what happened in that room, and in earlier times we never would have." Were we better off for not knowing? More women would not have come forward as victims, but more men would not have been falsely victimized, perhaps. As stoics, and men, we should be glad that more women are receiving justice.

The most important lesson of "[w]e'll never know what happened in that room, and in earlier times we never would have" may be that in the past, when we had a culture with norms of decency and respect, such incidents were far less likely to have occurred, and fewer women would have been so victimized. A young woman would have known better than to invite an unknown man into her home. A young man would have faced ostracization (and possibly far worse) at having taken advantage of a young woman.

Stories like the above are natural when a society discards two-thousand years of civilizing tutelage as "oppressive." We have willingly reverted to barbarism, to cavemen dragging women by the hair to their caves, in the name of "if-it-feels-good-do-it," and we act surprised when we see it all play out.

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The Immorality of Sting Operations (and the State)

Kevin Carson writes, "The very existence of 'sting operations,' by which law enforcement personnel solicit illegal activity — in other words, perform acts which are illegal on their faces in the course of their official duties — speaks volumes about the nature of the state and its laws" — State Law Breakers. Mr. Carson continues:
    When the first professional police forces were created in London and New York in the early 19th century, they were regarded as simply hired functionaries who got paid to perform the same “posse comitatus” functions (preserved in the archaic practice of “citizen’s arrest”) within the competency of all citizens. The proposition that professional police be granted special status over and above that of their fellow citizens would never have been tolerated.

    I’ve never understood the logic by which someone in uniform can commit an act that’s defined as illegal by statute, in the course of a sting operation, without themselves breaking the law. If it’s illegal for a citizen to offer drugs or sexual acts for sale, or to solicit their sale from others, how is it legal for a cop to offer to buy or sell drugs from a citizen?
A seven-year-old post of mine hit on this theme — Crime Prevention Incompatible With Anglo-Saxon Law. This ten-month-old post does as well — Criminalizing Immorality. So does the Henry Adams quote on this blog's sidebar: "In no well-regulated community, under a proper system of police, could the Virgin feel at home, and the same thing may be said of most other saints as well as sinners."

Catholic Moral Theology seems to me opposed to sting operations, as would St. Thomas Aquinas.

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The Great War

My daughter, the ten-year-old history buff, asked me about the causes of this war, not an easy question to answer; Laurence M. Vance rightly calls it "folly on scale never before seen" — An Injury to Civilization. Mr. Vance:
    The 110,000 or so American soldiers who died on the battlefields of Europe died for absolutely nothing. They died not while helping to liberate, but while helping to destroy, European civilization, even as the U.S. government was punishing dissent and destroying civil liberties in America. Even without the beginning of the income tax and the Federal Reserve, Woodrow Wilson is one of the most loathsome men to ever occupy the office of U.S. president because of his push for American intervention in World War I. The war should have been the war to end all wars.
I wonder of there is a book that does for this world war what Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization did for the next one.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Hackensaw Boys Perform "Oh Girl"

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Forbes and Franics

Recognition of a man who "has never in his life sought position, power or status, has always lived as a poor man and, until his election as Pope used public transport, shuns mundane events and gives priority attention to the world’s poor" — Francis ranked fourth 'most powerful' person in world. Perhaps even more remarkable is that "Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was given the number 1 position in the Forbes list."

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