Natural Slaves

Natural Slaves:

Rush Limbaugh, radio show:

[T]here is no equality. You cannot guarantee that any two people will end up the same. And you can't legislate it, and you can't make it happen. You can try, under the guise of fairness and so forth, but some people are self-starters, and some people are born lazy. Some people are born victims. Some people are just born to be slaves.
Shocking. Except....

Aristotle, Politics, Book 1 Chapter V:
We may then, as we affirm, perceive in an animal the first principles of herile and political government; for the soul governs the body as the master governs his slave; the mind governs the appetite with a political or a kingly power, which shows that it is both natural and advantageous that the body should be governed by the soul, and the pathetic part by the mind, and that part which is possessed of reason; but to have no ruling power, or an improper one, is hurtful to all; and this holds true not only of man, but of other animals also, for tame animals are naturally better than wild ones, and it is advantageous that both should be under subjection to man; for this is productive of their common safety: so is it naturally with the male and the female; the one is superior, the other inferior; the one governs, the other is governed; and the same rule must necessarily hold good with respect to all mankind. Those men therefore who are as much inferior to others as the body is to the soul, are to be thus disposed of, as the proper use of them is their bodies, in which their excellence consists; and if what I have said be true, they are slaves by nature, and it is advantageous to them to be always under government. He then is by nature formed a slave who is qualified to become the chattel of another person, and on that account is so, and who has just reason enough to know that there is such a faculty [as reason], without being indued with the use of it[.]
In other words, some people don't use their reason to rule over their desires; and as a consequence, their bodies and not their minds rule them. As it is disasterous for a man to be ruled by his desires (consider for example the drug addict), it may be better -- actually, physically better -- for them to be under the governance of someone else. This argument has been controversial in the modern, pro-democracy age that we live in; but it is a familiar argument that Rush Limbaugh is making here, one with a history that I had thought was well known.

I assume you read Aristotle in law school, Mr. Amato? Perhaps not, because neither Dr. Althouse nor her readers mention him either.

I wonder what they do teach at these schools?

A culinary milestone! For some time now I've been wanting to learn to make cheese. I sent off for some basic supplies and cultures, then lost my local connection for raw milk. Finally the stars aligned this week, and we made 30-minute mozzarella, which was every bit as easy as advertised. One gallon of whole raw cow's milk made a little patty of seriously delicious cheese. My attempt to recook the whey and produce ricotta was less successful, and showed me why most recipes now "cheat" and say to use whole milk: nearly a gallon of whey produced about 3 micrograms of solids in ricotta form. So now I have all this whey, which I'll either learn to drink or will feed to the ever-appreciative pups.

I didn't cheat with the picture this time; that's my actual cheese achievement, with basil from the garden.

Rescuers Break Through to Trapped Chilean Miners

Rescuers Break Through to Trapped Chilean Miners

Some weeks back they were warning this might not happen for three or four months. Now it looks as though, with luck, the 33 miners may be brought out within a couple of weeks, although there are still dangerous procedures ahead, including some explosives work. The miners have been trapped 2,300 below the surface for over two months, but have had supplies delivered to them through a small opening. The new opening is 26 inches wide and can accommodate an escape capsule with a 21-inch internal diameter. The opening is so small that several miners "have been put on a special diet" to be sure they will fit. First up the shaft will be several miners who are considered expert in the technique, followed by those in the most fragile health.

I suffer a bit from claustrophobia. I guess in their place I'd have gotten over it or gone barking mad. God bless 'em. At least they knew all this time their friends were coming for them, which must have kept them sane.

Hunting Season Arrives:

This reflective, hunter-blaze-orange collar provided at my expense, in the hope of avoiding any regrettable misunderstandings between myself and the hunter population.


Liberal Sexism:

Welcome aboard, Ms. Powers. Check the sidebar; you won't have any trouble figuring out which section is the relevant one.

Bill W on Tea Party

Bill Whittle on the TEA Party Core Values:

My own sense is a bit different: I think Constitutional Government, rather than "small government" is the core principle. Still, he's as much a right to his reading as I have to mine; and he's ready to argue it at length.

Traveling Vietnam Wall

Last weekend I attended a ceremony in Huntington, Long Island for the traveling Vietnam Wall exhibit that is stopping in two hundred cities across the country. Regrettably I did not have my embroidered Soldiers' Angels jean-jacket with me, as I did not know I would be attending until after I had left for my business trip to San Fran. I would have loved for all the Vietnam guys there to have seen a soldier-support group be present (though later in speeches someone recognized that today things are better for soldiers support-wise). The man who sang God Bless America was simply phenominal. Christopher Macchio belted out the song in a way that makes everyone a little misty-eyed.

I was extremely touched by the POW-MIA Remembrance Ceremony, which, if you have never witnessed or heard being read, take a look here.

What an occasion and an honor to be at this event. It was terrible weather, but we all gladly said the Pledge of Allegiance, paid our respects, learned a thing or two (at least I did), and properly recognized our Warriors and their tremendous sacrifice on our behalf.

The event was held at a park named for a NYC Firefighter who died on 9-11.

Someone with whom my Mom went to school (below), Edward L. La Barr, had died and is listed.

We checked her yearbook when we got home.

Here's how you find a name you are looking up (below).
I think this was the hardest moment for me, seeing this book.

Some people posted signs, left beer, or flowers...

John Corr was someone my aunt knew.


We Remember!

That's Interesting

That's Interesting...

Dad29 points out a small spike in grain futures. By "small," I mean all the way to the lock limit; by "grain," I mean every grain. Oats, wheat, corn, and soybeans.

Curious. Now, why would something like that happen?

One possibility is that somebody knows something we don't know about food supplies. Another is that someone thinks gold has topped out, and is looking for another relatively safe store of value -- something that people are going to need, no matter what happens to the values of any given currency. Given the new evidence of serious upcoming instability, new sources of reliable value stores might simply be coming to the fore.

A third option arises if we consider two remarks of D29's source:

What this means is that it is entirely possible for exactly one trade to go off at the limit price and lock trading. You're stuck with whatever position you have at that point.

If you're short and you lock-limit up the good news is that the damage stops (for that day) there.

The bad news is that there's nothing you can do about the damage, up to and including being driven into a margin call, which can bankrupt you.
So maybe all that happened here is that a George Soros-type noticed that one of his competitors was in a bad position, and closed the book on him. That's actually the least worrying scenario: a single somebody ruthlessly destroying a competitor (or 'some competitors') is far better than the beginning of an ongoing spike in basic food prices. That latter is the sort of thing that destroys governments, nations, civilizations.

It's something worth watching, and thinking about carefully, if it continues when trading reopens. So is that bank thing (see "serious upcoming instability," above).

Mysore Rasam

Mysore Rasam

Someone on a comment board the other day broke into a discussion to announce that she'd just made a spicy tomato lentil broth that had to be consumed to be believed. I was so inspired that I got right on Amazon (two-day free shipping!) and ordered the Indian cookbook she said the recipe was in, and some "asafoetida," that being the only ingredient I couldn't scare up locally. I've only ever heard of this substance from Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin novels, where Dr. Maturin uses it to provide his doses with the horrible smell and taste his patients require in order to take any medicine seriously. What came in the mail didn't smell horrible at all. Anyway, recipes generally call for only a pinch.

Having finally assembled all the necessities, I cooked some up last night. It was as terrific as my correspondent had promised. Mysore Rasam is "spicy lentil broth," which called on me to puree the cooked lentils, let them settle, and draw off the broth from the top, reserving the lentils for another dish on another day. Weird. Then you add a tomato puree with turmeric, garlic, tamarind, coriander seed, cumin, pepper, and molasses before finishing off the whole thing with mustard-seed scented ghee, asafoetida, and chopped cilantro. The picture above is pretty close, though my recipe called for finer chopping and therefore had a more uniform color. The cookbook recommended sipping the hot, strong-smelling broth from a cup.

Today: glorious leftover rasam for lunch, and I'll have to think of something to do with the lentil puree.

This Indian food thing sounds like a good deal for us. Coriander/cilantro grows like crazy here, but most American recipes call for only a pinch. This recipe for about six cups of Mysore rasam called for an un-heard-of two tablespoons of ground coriander seed. If I cook from this book a couple of times a week, and it catches on with my neighbors, we might make a dent in the coriander seed supply.

Greatest obituary photo EVAR.

Kurt Albert, who died on September 27 aged 56, invented the “redpoint” or free style of climbing – in which the ascent is performed without technical aids.

Not a lot of people go out doing what they love.

The Beautiful Red Danube

The Beautiful Red Danube

This is the kind of pollution we ought to be focusing on instead of CO2: water pollution. A horrific toxic spill about 100 miles southwest of Budapest has killed an unknown number of people, destroyed a village, and killed every fish in some smaller waterways before pouring into the Danube.

The spill is 185 million gallons of "red sludge" from an aluminum plant, with a pH of 13, which is to say "Drano." The pH scale only goes to 14 on the alkaline side. The equivalent on the acidic side is battery acid. Per the BBC: The muddy red sludge is waste from the early stages of aluminium production. Aluminium-containing ore, bauxite, is washed at high temperatures in sodium hydroxide (lye). This dissolves the aluminium, which can then be processed further, but the red sludge is left behind as a waste product containing a mixture of oxides of iron (rust), aluminum silicon, calcium, titanium, sodium, and trace amounts of other nasties like mercury and lead. Officials are reported to be using calcium nitrate (saltpeter), calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum), and even huge quantities of acetic acid (vinegar) to try to counter the spill's highly caustic alkaline effects. The spill is now measured at between 8.5 and 9.3 pH at the confluence with the Danube. A pH of 8.5 is at the high end of normal alkalinity for surface water. A kitchen cleanser might have a pH of 9.3.

The world's dozen largest aluminum plants are in Australia, Brazil, and China. The United States ranks 35th in worldwide production with a million tons of aluminum a year. The three U.S. plants are in Louisiana and Texas. The Louisiana plant is on the Mississippi River, while the two Texas plants are both within 50 miles of my home in opposite directions on the coast. American plants differ from the Hungarian operation in that they store the metal-oxide product in a dry form. Although this "dry-stacking" is not legally required, manufacturers consider it safer and less toxic. The hot weather and flat terrain of the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast permit sludge ponds to dry quickly with what we all hope is a minimal risk of a levee breach. The trick is to keep the sludge damp enough to avoid blowing dust, but dry enough that heavy equipment can drive over it. American manufacturers then remove and recycle the caustic lye, which leaves a sludge waste with a more neutral pH that can be covered over and landscaped with plants that finalize the pH-normalization process. The material is still loaded with metals and remains contained by a levee. The main danger is flooding from massive tropical storms; so far, the designs have proved adequate.

When the Public Supports a Law

"OK, that ain't your girl right there"

Here's the difference between laws that stay on the books despite deep divisions over whether they should be enforced (Prohibition; immigration), and laws that the populace would instinctively enforce whether they were on the books or not. Eight-year-old Elisa was playing with half a dozen friends in the front yard in Fresno, California, one evening this week when a human predator approached them. Warned by nearby adults to run away, most of the girls escaped, but the predator managed to snatch Elisa and drive off. The witnesses gave immediate chase, and although they didn't catch him, they had a good description of the truck. An "Amber Alert" went out. Over 100 policemen started going door to door.

An Amber Alert galvanizes citizens who might be passively skeptical of law enforcement in other contexts. Within twelve hours, a young Fresno man caught sight of a red pickup truck that matched the description of the abductor's car and jumped in his car to follow it.

"I was yelling but I kept cutting him off so he would get off the road,” Perez told KFSN. “At first, it was just like a simple question, ‘I need to talk to you,’ and (Gonzalez) goes, ‘No, my truck is messing up. I need to leave,’ so I said ‘OK.’

“I didn’t see no little girl. So the second time I cut him off, the little girl stuck her head out. That’s when I said, ‘OK, that ain’t your girl right there.’ Because he was hiding her — like pushing her down."
Perez cut the truck off, enabling Elisa to jump out and escape. Later, operating on another tip, police arrested the driver, a gang member already on probation for domestic violence. “I’ve got to tell you, it was the highlight of my career seeing (the victim) and her mom unite in that hospital room,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Bravo, Mr. Perez. That lowlife whacked a hornet's next.

A Pub Joke

A Pub Joke:

I'm busy this week, and have little time to think. But perhaps you'd like a pub joke... told in the style of Geoffrey Chaucer.

That really is his style, and the bawdy parts not least.

Church Buildings That Aren't Awful

Church Buildings That Aren't Awful

Since we can't post images in the comments, I've been looking up the churches that several of you have linked to or mentioned in response to my earlier post. I'll update if you'll give me more links.

More views of the lovely Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut at Ronchamp in northeastern France, design by Le Corbusier, completed 1954 (left).

The interior light wall:

Left: the swooping wings of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, completed in 1971 from a design team including Pier Luigi Nervi.

The exterior doesn't do that much for me, but I've got to love this interior (right):

And this organ (left).

The Mission San Xavier del Bac (a/k/a La Golondrina) near Tucson, Arizona, late 18th century. Now that's what I call decoration! No austerity here.

Douglas mentioned the "meeting house" style, which doesn't have to be ugly at all.

This is one of my favorites: the Live Oak Friends Meeting House in Houston, Texas, built in 2001 with a distinctive "Skyspace" work by James Turell. Outside it's an almost aggressively plain clapboard work, a modern take on the basic early American rectangle.

The plain interior is transformed by the extraordinary skylight. These aren't tricks of artificial light, they're the changes that occur with sunlight every day. A Quaker meeting hall is laid out perfectly for a shape-note singing, with its pews facing an open square from four directions.

Here is my old Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. The exterior shots don't really capture what's so nice about it, so I included a floorplan. This cathedral has all kinds of wonderful interior and exterior spaces.

Update: GunnerMk42 adds these:

Angel Fire Veteran's Memorial in New Mexico.

St. Malo Church, Colorado.

And he seconds the vote on the AFA Chapel, pictured in the comments.

Not Witch


Pity. We could use a good witch, so long as she was our witch.

A Very Odd Piece

A Very Odd Piece of Philosophy:

Professor of philosophy J. M. Bernstein tries to grasp the Tea Party. He's quite alarmed by us, but I don't think he really grasps the thing. Most likely the problem is that he's a fan of Hegel.

Tea Party anger is, at bottom, metaphysical, not political: what has been undone by the economic crisis is the belief that each individual is metaphysically self-sufficient, that one’s very standing and being as a rational agent owes nothing to other individuals or institutions. The opposing metaphysical claim, the one I take to be true, is that the very idea of the autonomous subject is an institution, an artifact created by the practices of modern life: the intimate family, the market economy, the liberal state. Each of these social arrangements articulate and express the value and the authority of the individual; they give to the individual a standing she would not have without them....

All the heavy lifting in Hegel’s account turns on revealing how human subjectivity only emerges through intersubjective relations, and hence how practices of independence, of freedom and autonomy, are held in place and made possible by complementary structures of dependence. At one point in his “Philosophy of Right,” Hegel suggests love or friendship as models of freedom through recognition. In love I regard you as of such value and importance that I spontaneously set aside my egoistic desires and interests and align them with yours: your ends are my desires, I desire that you flourish, and when you flourish I do, too. In love, I experience you not as a limit or restriction on my freedom, but as what makes it possible: I can only be truly free and so truly independent in being harmoniously joined with you; we each recognize the other as endowing our life with meaning and value, with living freedom. Hegel’s phrase for this felicitous state is “to be with oneself in the other.”

Hegel’s thesis is that all social life is structurally akin to the conditions of love and friendship; we are all bound to one another as firmly as lovers are, with the terrible reminder that the ways of love are harsh, unpredictable and changeable. And here is the source of the great anger: because you are the source of my being, when our love goes bad I am suddenly, absolutely dependent on someone for whom I no longer count and who I no longer know how to count; I am exposed, vulnerable, needy, unanchored and without resource. In fury, I lash out, I deny that you are my end and my satisfaction, in rage I claim that I can manage without you, that I can be a full person, free and self-moving, without you. I am everything and you are nothing.
Now, I shouldn't critique a Hegelian reading of anything, because I simply detest German Idealism. The whole field is nothing but indoor philosophy. My guess is that Dr. Bernstein is a specialist in Hegel, and probably has more insight into his work than I do.

Still, this is a reading of Hegel that is at odds with what I had understood him to be saying. Hegel rarely seemed to want you to set anything aside. His usual method was to argue for X, and then say that X is contradicted by Y, and that we must therefore have synthesis Z: but that X and Y and Z are all completely true, and continue to hold individually.

For example, consider a girl raised by an emotionally abusive mother. Our girl is dependent on the mother for her life and her identity, and learns to serve the mother. In time, though, she grows up and becomes capable of independence. She moves away, gets a job, supports herself. For a time, she cuts off communication with her mother. So now you have two ideas in conflict: what it is to be dependent, and what it is to be independent.

Now let us say that the girl, in having spent her early life in service to her mother, developed a sense of sympathy and pity for her mother. As an independent woman, she wants to remain involved in her mother's life; she wants to continue to have that social interaction, that sense of love that comes from family. However, she is no longer willing to be manipulated and abused.

Her independence is not set aside in order to create this new situation of neither-independent-nor-dependent. Rather, independence is a necessary condition for her being able to relate to her mother in a better way. The third way, the synthesis, relies on the existence of both of the original concepts. None of them 'go away': she must hold in her mind the bad aspects of dependence, and the beneficial pity that it engendered in her; the strength of independence, but also the sense of missing her mother; and only then can she manage the synthesis. The synthesis does not replace the earlier conditions, but bridges them, much as an actual bridge connects two cliffs. Remove either cliff, and the bridge falls.

If you want to insist on a Hegelian reading of the Tea Party movement, surely the way to read it would be that way: that it is a reaction against a destabilization of the synthesis by undermining the independence "cliff." The synthesis can't stand if we are no longer able to be independent: so we lose both the happy synthesis of an ordered communion with our fellow citizens, and the possibility of independence. All that remains is dependency.

Of course, as someone who wasn't that impressed with Hegel to begin with, I obviously wouldn't attempt to craft such a reading. The fact is that the good doctor is not right to say that "In truth, there is nothing that the Tea Party movement wants; terrifyingly, it wants nothing."

Of course we want something. What we want is the Constitution. Liberty by law. A space for the individual, so that he can choose to serve (or not): and then, if he does, he is a free knight lending his sword to the Republic, not a slave forced to render obedience and tribute. That's a metaphysical dispute only insofar as metaphysics includes aesthetics: which it very well may, given our recent discussions about the standing of the True and the Beautiful.



Yesterday: 'Conservatives are barely-literate anti-intellectuals who detest the educated.'

Today: 'These Tea Party types are so deeply involved in reading ancient texts that they can't see the modern world.'

Did we feel a little tremor when we made that mental shift, or did it pass us unnoticed?

Soul-Sucking Architecture

Soul-Sucking Architecture

If church architecture is going to be soul-sucking, it ought to be in the sense of drawing the sinners in. This style of church architecture (an actual design by the firm my poor, deluded congregation has chosen) is more in the style of "suffer the automobiles to come unto Me."

Here's our perfectly charming existing building, whose only fault is that it's a little too small and suffers from the usual depradations of coastal climate.

A church elder whom I respect and admire oftens chides me gently, suggesting that I shouldn't be so hidebound about traditional forms of architecture. After all, our little church has been knocked down by hurricanes and rebuilt several times in our relatively brief history (this area wasn't much settled until after the Civil War). I don't disgree with him; I happen to like wildly nontraditional architecture.

What could be more beautiful than Notre-Dame-du-Haut at Ronchamps (left)? The problem, I think, is that only a very good architect can do a good job forging into new style territory, whereas even a mediocre architect can do a reasonable job sticking with the vernacular. Corpus Christi, the nearest source of architects, does not run to brilliant visionaries. We're going to end up with something like the first example above, which might as well be a dialysis center.