Monday, May 30, 2005

Five from LRC
Remembering another stupid war
The Russo-Japanese one. The last Tsar was saintly but not a competent emperor. Philadelphia’s oldest Russian Orthodox church* was built as a chapel for his navy as he had two warships built in that city, one of which, the Variag (Viking), famously sank during one of the battles of that war.

Interview for US Memorial Day: Cindy Sheehan of Gold Star Families for Peace

The plagues that kill today

War, nationalism, propaganda...

Ships and the sea
Largely forgotten but still important. I’ve only been deep-sea fishing twice but have some sense of what Charley Reese is talking about.

Most of us, I guess, have contact with the sea only at the beach and from novels. Nevertheless, the maritime industry and the world's navies are as important as they've ever been. They are beset by problems that require more visibility, at least as much as Tom Cruise's latest squeeze or the Michael Jackson freak show.
The reason many Americans don’t know about maritime issues and news is they’re not covered anymore, because:

A longtime problem is ship owners who register their ships under foreign flags to evade U.S. regulations and union crewmen, a practice that causes both pollution and safety problems, not to mention diminishes the ranks of our merchant seamen.

The use of foreign flags was probably the very first instance of outsourcing American jobs in order to operate cheaply and avoid safety and environmental regulations.
Also why a lot of cruise ships are dodgy health- and safetywise.

There's nothing like being at sea to put the human being in proper perspective. The immense oceans are hostile environments to us folks. Without the steel corks we float on, we could not survive. One feels properly small when at sea.
As the Psalmist wrote:

23. They that go down to the sea in ships : and occupy their business in great waters;
24. These men see the works of the Lord : and his wonders in the deep.
25. For at his word the stormy wind ariseth : which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26. They are carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep : their soul melteth away because of the trouble.
27. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man : and are at their wits' end.
28. So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble : he delivereth them out of their distress.
29. For he maketh the storm to cease : so that the waves thereof are still.
30. Then are they glad, because they are at rest : and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be.
- Psalm 106/107

Here's one final tidbit of sea news. Daytona Beach, Fla., has the largest number of recorded shark attacks in the world (who knows what happens in places where they don't keep statistics). But don't worry. Florida sharks don't like the taste of tourists, so they take one nip and spit them out – most of the time.
Speaking of the deep, I saw Titanic (the 1997 one) on the box again last night and still like it. That reminds me: I’d like to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I’ve met several older women from upper-class WASP backgrounds who were bohemian and cool like Rose ended up becoming. (Somebody rather like that in a few ways, who was a national news reporter back in the early 1960s when relatively few ladies did that, gave me my break in the newspaper business 10 years ago!) One, who died in the past year, was 180 me on a lot of issues (she was too liberal theologically even for the Unitarians whence she came) but we were friends. Back in the day even the liberals were nicer.

Hip cities without souls
Or in Philadelphian terms what’s spiritually wrong with Old City

‘Cities with moral purpose’ reminds me that in England only places with cathedrals are technically cities; those without are simply towns no matter how big. An echo of the apostolic ministry.

Speaking of Philadelphia (this might be of interest, John), rumour has it that punk shop Zipperhead may close or at least move out of South Street. The street really is turning into the Cherry Hill Mall without a roof! At least it’s still got the antiques mall in the old synagogue just to the south in Sixth Street: a sort of mini-Portobello Road where you can rescue sacramentals and if you’ve got $150 get a nice samovar.

*It’s a pro-cathedral; the bishop lives in New York. (Hmm, they’ve redone their website.)

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