Mark O. Archives

Things Heard: edition 8v2

  • I’m curious about this meme, Mr Obama “on top” because Ms Clinton can’t “mathematically” win without superdelagates. Neither can Mr Obama in any real world sense. Why is there a sense that there is a difference there?
  • Jehu and the casual cruelty of the ancient world.
  • Kill your sister, get one year … in some countries. The country is Islamic. Why is that not a surprise?
  • Three myths on poverty and abortion punctured by reality. The link is to the myths where there is a link to reality.
  • Beauty in nature via NASA.
  • Wise words from Chuck Norris (I’m not kidding).

Things Heard: edition 8v1

Mr Sandefur claims in response to my allegation that he completely misconstrued my first essay, with an essay in which he thinks that a state has “no rights.” And to be honest, I agree with him on that point … it’s just that neither do people. However in the context of his own question:

This is interesting because this really is the very center of the dispute between libertarians and conservatives. Does the state itself have rights valid against its own citizens, to act for its own preservation at their expense?

On this question, Mr Sandefur has five “objections” to that notion that the “state has rights”. So does a state have a right to craft laws which it believes will lead to its continuance? Clearly virtually every state does so and believes it is right in doing so. Clearly as well, that some states craft laws which belie an incorrect assumption about what will allow them to continue … and they ceased to exist. But, it might be interesting to examine Mr Sandefur’s arguments in the light of those I’d propose. Mr Sandefur’s arguments are, I think, derived from classical Libertarian positions … mine are not classical anything, conservative or liberal. Mine largely derive from recent digestion and assimilation of Jouvenel and Solzhenitsyn viewed in the context of modern and ancient historical events.

I’ll examine those five and attempt a response … below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry

Jason Kuznicki has responded to my reply to a post of his on marriage. Timothy Sandefur has noted that exchange, and it seems can’t have misunderstood or misconstrued what I’ve said any more than he did. I’ll start by remarking on Mr Sandefur’s disappointing remarks and then attempt to reply to Mr Kuznicki.

To recap, in Mr Kuznicki’s original piece, he had noted that the marriage, as a state recognized institution, is more about protecting the married couple against the state than the reverse. In my original piece I tried to establish that, while this is true that is compounded by the following difficulties:

  1. Marriage is an institution which has been almost universally regarded to have sacred elements. In a “separation” of church and state there are bound to be difficulties.
  2. The state has some reasons to need or defend marriage and that those reasons are not shared equally with same sex and traditional marriages.

Now, while I think the state has reasons to strengthen marriage and hold to any number of various laws regulating conduct, I don’t think the organ of government that does that should be the federal or state government. I think that our current state is in peril, in fact will not continue many more generations, because of the increased concentration of power at the highest (state and federal levels). At the very least this has enfeebled our own individual democratic “muscles”, or instincts and practices of a democratic nature are have been and are being replaced with notions which will in the near future (on a historical time-scale) destroy our polis. What is needed is both a strengthening of the state’s ability to regulate our society but that strengthening needs to be local. Decision that highly fractious and divisive which are today made and discussed at the federal level should be regulated instead at the local, village/precinct level. Each village, township, or precinct should be making for itself the decisions that vex us today, such as marriage, abortion, immigration, and so on.

My response and further thoughts on the two essays linked above can be found … below the fold. Read the rest of this entry

Things Heard: edition 7v5

Things Heard: edition 7v4

Things Heard: edition 7v3

  • Two things, here and here, both called “bike”.
  • I ask you these questions three, “What is your favorite color?”, … uhm. Oops. Wrong questions, try these.
  • Some reading lists for global jihad.
  • Press and the Clinton campaign. No love lost there, eh?
  • Starting in 1976 and for about 20 years … a lot of my time, effort, and imagination  …  Memory eternal.

On the Left, Bigotry, and Islam

In the few left leaning blogs I manage to read a continual theme comes up, that the right is “fear mongering” or as Mr Greenwald writes:

Thus, white evangelical Ministers are free to advocate American wars based on Biblical mandates, rant hatefully against Islam, and argue that natural disasters occur because God hates gay people. They are still fit for good company, an important and cherished part of our mainstream American political system. [emphasis mine]

My remarks on the bold text above … below the fold. Read the rest of this entry

Things Heard: edition 7v2

On Repentance

Next week, Lent begins in the Eastern tradition and continues in the West. Traditionally, in the East, Lent begins with the Canon of St. Andrew, which takes 4 nights to complete. This service, in my opinion, is arguably the most, well, devastating expression of liturgical repentance that is performed. The canon is then followed by a Compline (Vespers/Evening Prayer) service which ends, in the Slavic tradition with the Prayer of St. Ephraim. As noted here:

 A basic distinguishing feature of the Great Canon is its extremely broad use of images and subjects taken both from the Old and New Testaments. As the Canon progresses, the congregation encounters many biblical examples of sin and repentance. The Bible (and therefore, the Canon) speaks of some individuals in a positive light, and about others in a negative one—the penitents are expected to emulate the positive examples of sanctity and repentance, and to learn from and avoid the negative examples of sin, fallen nature and pride. However, one of the most notable aspects of the Canon is that it attempts to portray the Biblical images in a very personal way to every penitent: the Canon is written in such form that the faithful identify themselves with many people and events found in the Bible.

So, if you are Catholic or Protestant practice Lent or not I’d like to recommend that you try to find and visit a local Orthodox parish and experience the Great Canon. I’m not saying this as an attempt to wrest anyone from their particular practice or tradition. Instead what I’m seeking is raise awareness of this powerful meaningful religious Lenten experience. If possible, find a Slavic (OCA, Romanian, Ukrainian or similar) parish to go to in order to see this as the above mentioned prayer caps the service very well and is absent in the Greek tradition. I don’t know about the Antiochian Orthodox tradition on whether they use St. Ephrem’s prayer or not.

Some notes for the non-Orthodox visitor:

  1.  Prostration will be practice by the Orthodox during this service. Nobody will be insulted if you don’t participate. Prostration physically involves kneeling and pressing your forehead to the floor between your hands. Those who perform this will say, this is how man should present himself before God. But for the visitor, remember prostration or not … is voluntary and don’t be surprised to see it.
  2. The Orthodox present will kiss icons. Veneration (kissing) of icons is at a basic level a way of offering respect, which is much more dignified than, say, an American high-five or thumbs up. This isn’t idol worship and again, it’s voluntary and nobody will be taken aback if you don’t also do that. Lighting of candles and kissing the priest’s hand are similar practices which again you don’t have to do, and nobody will censure you at all for not doing so.
  3. The music will be a capella voice and likely depending on the skill and number of choral members who are present possible a little shaky. The entire canon will be sung or chanted. Forgive mistakes, imagine how it would sound done as written, and more importantly try to let the chant help you find other ways of appreciating what is being said.
  4. There will be incense. In the Old Testament, worship always entailed incense. That remains the case in the Orthodox tradition.

Again, I’ll repeat, if you are of any Western tradition and are in Lent or want to connect in a personal way via liturgy with repentance … go to the Canon of St. Andrew next week … at the very least try it just on the first night and keep coming if it connects with you.

And if you do, and have either never witnessed the Canon before or an Orthodox service, email me or leave a comment here on how you found the experience. I’ll collect and repost any of those responses.

The prayer of St. Ephrem:

O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth, idle curiosity/meddling, lust for power and idle talk.

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters. For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Things Heard: edition 7v1

  • Humor found (mostly) on church signage.
  • Cricket races in New Jersey, against expectations.
  • Reading those with whom you disagree. It’s why I recently picked up a bunch of Zizek’s books. Zizek is an unrepentant Leninist/Lacanian radical materialist which is about as far from my viewpoint as you can get. Yet he is provocative and intelligent, and ultimately thought provoking. Who do you read that holds a position wildly different from yours?
  • On Kosovo.
  • Two remarks of Mr Obama’s. A study in contrast.
  • Wales and a suicide epidemic among the young.
  • Zoom, if you have money to burn. Another car related note here.

Things Heard: edition 6v4

Obama’s LBB (Little Blue Book): Unions

I downloaded Mr Obama’s little Plan the other day. He says he’s in full support of strengthening laws which support and strengthen unions. Is he insane? Alternatively … stupid, pandering,  or evil?

He’s suggesting this in a global market were the local Ford unions just recently went onstrike for more, …  well, whatever. They (and Obama) are apparently not noticing that they’re now in direct competion globally with companies like Tata, who probably pay their employees $2.50 per day (and that’s likely a 10-12 hour 6 day-per-week workweek). Tata is now launching a 2,500 dollar automobile. Now it probably doesn’t have the bells and whistles that even a low end Ford does. But … I’ll bet it is a lot nicer than whatever Ford thinks it can make a profit at selling for $2500. It takes a lot of mechanization, get up and go, yankee ingenuity to make up over an order or so of magnitude difference in manpower. Furthermore remember that unions do the opposite of inspiring any of those three. Jobs are leaving Ohio, not because unions are too strong but because American salary demands aren’t competitive on the global market.

Things Heard: edition 6v3

  • Che and the other side at The Belmont Club.
  • Unimpressed by the honesty of the Islamic clerical letter.
  • Another, Kim Zigfeld, is unimpressed by the honesty of the New York Times.
  • Don’t try that here! Please.
  • If temperatures had gone up this year by .6-.7C you know we’d not be hearing the end of it. But they went down, very dramatically … globally. Curious about the deafening silence on that from the global warming crowd. One wonders how they rationalize that little discrepancy. It is suspected (no link) by some that a unexpected low in sunspot activity and solar output is the cause. We’ll see if the solar output theories of global climate come back (and the dissipation of Saturn rings and Mars warming re-appears in discussions of climate).

Confusion and a Divorce

Jason Kuznicki writes on marriage here. He notes:

The thesis: Marriage is in many ways a defense against the state. Marriage is many different things, but in a whole set of ways, it is an approach toward a more limited and more tractable form of government. Marriage — “state-sanctioned” marriage — is a defense of the home against the bureaucracy.

Marriage does a lot of things. Here are just a few of them: It helps to decide child custody and presumed parental obligations. It resolves nearly all questions about inheritance. It does the same with property and financial decision making. It settles who gets to make medical decisions. It determines who may have standing to sue for wrongful death. Whether rightly or wrongly, it helps to determine — and who may not — receive retirement benefits, even if those benefits come from a private company.

In each of these cases, I think it’s preferable to have a “default” state: It’s just better to have an understanding about how, barring alternate arrangements, everything is going to play out: When one spouse dies, the other gets the house, the kids, the right to sue. No fuss, no questions asked. Not even any probate in a lot of jurisdictions, as I understand it. When one spouse is incapacitated, you look to the other one for the life-and-death medical decisions. And so forth. In a time of crisis, you do not want a bunch of lawyers trying to argue their way through your private life. You just want to get on with the business at hand.

He continues to point out that this default state leaves those who don’t follow the default in some difficulty, a point on which there can be no reasonable disagreement (that is one on which no reasonable people, I think, can disagree). There are two other facets to this discussion which are salient, after which I’ll attempt to wrap up to a conclusion. And, much of this was reasoned and conceived during the fever dreams of the last two days for which I apologize in advance. Read the rest of this entry

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