He who places his hope on thee, O Virgin all-glorious, will prosper in all he does.

Inscription on Byzantine coin during reign of Romanus III

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Syria, A Century Ago

Take another section through Syria, a degree lower down, between Tripoli and Beyrout. To begin with, near the coast, are Lebanon Christians, Maronites and Greeks for the most part. It is hard to disentangle the politics of the two churches. Superficially, one should be French and the other Russian, but a part of the Maronites now have been in the United States, and have developed there an Anglo-Saxon vein which is not the less vigorous for being spurious. The Greek church prides itself on being old Syrian, autocthonous, of an intense local patriotism that (with part) would rather fling it into the arms of the Turk than endure irretrievable annexation by a Roman power. The adherents of the two churches are at one in unmeasured slander of Mohammedans and their religion. They salve a consciousness of inbred inferiority by this verbal scorn. Behind and among the Christians live families of Mohammedan Sunnis, Arabic-speaking, identical in race and habit with the Christian, marked off from them by a less mincing dialect, and a distaste for emigration and its results. On the higher slopes of the hills are serried settlements of Metawala, Shia Mohammedans who came from Persia centuries ago. They are dirty, ignorant, surly, and fanatical. They will not eat or drink with an infidel (the Sunni as bad as the Christian), follow their own priests and notables, speak Arabic but disown in every way the people, not their co-sectarians, who live about them. Across the hills are villages of Christians, yeomen, living at peace with their Sunni neighbours, as though they had never heard the grumbles of their fellows in the Lebanon...

A section a degree lower would begin with German Zionist Jews, Speaking a bastard Hebrew and German Yiddish, more intractable than the Jews of the Roman era, unable to endure near them anyone not of their race, some of them agriculturists, most of them shop-keepers, the most foreign, most uncharitable part of its whole population. Behind these Jews is their enemy, the Palestine peasant, more stupid than the peasant of North Syria, materialist and bankrupt...

Jerusalem is a dirty town which all Semitic religions have made holy. Christians and Mohammedans come there on pilgrimage; Jews look to it for the political future of their race. In it the united forces of the past are so strong that the city fails to have a present: its people, with the rarest exceptions, are characterless as hotel servants, living on the crowd of visitors passing through. Questions of Arabs and their nationality are as far from them as bimetallism from the life of Texas, though familiarity with the differences among Christians in their moment of most fervent expression has led the Mohammedans of Jerusalem to despise (and dislike) foreigners generally.

T.E. Lawrence, Syria, The Raw Material, 1915

Which Unchristian Sentiment Underlies The Welfare State?

I believe that we ought even to suppress the maxim about love for one's neighbour. Make it the duty of the state or the municipality to take care of the sick and the crippled, and leave men the illusion of living healthy in a healthy world.

Caesar in Pio Baroja's Caesar or Nothing

Ortega y Gasset On Hunting

If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.

In all of this, the moral problem of hunting has not been resolved. We have not reached ethical perfection in hunting. One never achieves perfection in anything, and perhaps it exists precisely so that one can never achieve it. Its purpose is to orient our conduct and to allow us to measure the progress accomplished. In this sense, the advancement achieved in the ethics of hunting is undeniable. Therefore it is necessary to oppose photographic hunting, which is not progress but rather a digression and a prudery of hideous moral style.

Every authentic refinement must leave intact the authenticity of the hunt, its essential structure, which is a matter of a confrontation between two unequal species. The real care that man must exercise is not in pretending to make the beast equal to him, because that is a stupid utopian, beatific farce, but rather in avoiding more and more the excess of his superiority. Hunting is the free play of an inferior species in the face of a superior species. That is where one must make some refinement. Man must give the animal a "handicap," in order to place him as close as possible to his own level. The essence of sportive hunting is not raising the animal to the level of man, but something much more spiritual than that: a conscious and almost religious humbling of man which limits his superiority and lowers him toward the animal.

I have said 'religious,' and the word does not seem excessive to me. A fascinating mystery of nature is manifested in the universal fact of hunting: the inexorable hierarchy among living beings. Every animal is in a relationship of superiority or inferiority with regard to every other. Strict equality is exceedingly improbable and anomalous.

Life is a terrible conflict, a grandiose and atrocious confluence. Hunting submerges man deliberately in that formidable mystery and therefore contains something of religious rite and emotion in which homage is paid to what is divine, transcendent, in the laws of nature. 


Jose Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting as quoted by my-hunt.com

Monday, October 29, 2012

Schumpeter On The Sophomoric Mass

The man who has gone through a college or university easily becomes psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work. His failure to do so may be due either to lack of natural ability—perfectly compatible with passing academic tests—or to inadequate teaching; and both cases will . . . occur more frequently as ever larger numbers are drafted into higher education and as the required amount of teaching increases irrespective of how many teachers and scholars nature chooses to turn out.
The results of neglecting this and of acting on the theory that schools, colleges and universities are just a matter of money, are too obvious to insist upon. Cases in which among a dozen applicants for a job, all formally qualified, there is not one who can fill it satisfactorily, are known to everyone who has anything to do with appointments . . .
All those who are unemployed or unsatisfactorily employed or unemployable drift into the vocations in which standards are least definite or in which aptitudes and acquirements of a different order count. They swell the host of intellectuals in the strict sense of the term whose numbers hence increase disproportionately. They enter it in a thoroughly discontented frame of mind. Discontent breeds resentment. And it often rationalizes itself into that social criticism which as we have seen before is in any case the intellectual spectator's typical attitude toward men, classes and institutions especially in a rationalist and utilitarian civilization.
Well, here we have numbers; a well-defined group situation of proletarian hue; and a group interest shaping a group attitude that will much more realistically account for hostility to the capitalist order than could the theory—itself a rationalization in the psychological sense—according to which the intellectual's righteous indignation about the wrongs of capitalism simply represents the logical inference from outrageous facts. . . . Moreover our theory also accounts for the fact that this hostility increases, instead of diminishing, with every achievement of capitalist evolution.

Joseph Schumpeter writing in "Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy," 1942 as quoted in the Wall Street Journal

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Your Post Office At Work

In this South Carolina town, the Post Office has refused to deliver mail because it has deemed the road unsafe. It's time to get rid of the Post Office's monopoly on first-class mail delivery.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Corporal Punishment Busybodies

Finnish Orthodox clerics stand up for woman deprived of her kids

Russia On Romney

Greenhouse Effect And Global Warming

National Rifle Association Endorses Romney/Ryan

Today's My Day To Be Nice

Here's the first comment to the linked letter to which the venerable Ad Orientem blog referred in the posting about the new RC Archbishop of San Francisco's alleged snubbing of California's Episcopal Bishop. I didn't give a crap about the letter, but the comment was a hoot:

I could not in good conscience work with this person who has chosen to accept the statements of his pope who has said that gay people are 'not fully developed humans' and has labeled people of same gender orientation as 'morally defective' not mention that he has equated marriage equality with mortal sin....

As some RCs have complained about my anti-RC positions, I'd like to compliment the forthright language quoted by the commenter. Heck, the language is forthright almost to the point of...Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Here Comes The Garbage Man

Now, this is a novel theme:  a garbage man who complains about indifferent customers.

'My name is Richard Hayes, and I pick up Mitt Romney's trash,' the man says to the camera in the 60-second Web ad. 'We're kind of like the invisible people, you know. He doesn't realize, you know, that the service we provide, you know, if it wasn't for us, you know, it would be a big health issue, us not picking up trash.'

Richard, yes, your job is supremely valuable, but how much is it worth? Tell Mitt what your number is, and I'm sure that he'll meet your request, provided that your colleagues, union and nonunion, don't undersell you.  Ah, the sweet dignity of fair pay for fair work.

Here's the ad:

Richard, your Mom should have named you Haynes Richard instead of Richard Haynes. Maybe your name could have propelled you into becoming a customer.