Due to an ongoing health crisis in the family, blogging will be 'on and off' as time and circumstances permit for the foreseeable future. I also beg your indulgence if I am slow in responding to emails. New posts will appear below this notice.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Swiss Option

ZURICH — Like every other country in Europe, Switzerland guarantees health care for all its citizens. But the system here does not remotely resemble the model of bureaucratic, socialized medicine often cited by opponents of universal coverage in the United States.

Swiss private insurers are required to offer coverage to all citizens, regardless of age or medical history. And those people, in turn, are obligated to buy health insurance.

That is why many academics who have studied the Swiss health care system have pointed to this Alpine nation of about 7.5 million as a model that delivers much of what Washington is aiming to accomplish — without the contentious option of a government-run health insurance plan.
Read the rest here.

MEMORY ETERNAL: Fyodor Miklasevich

Grant rest O Lord in the place of thy rest where all thy blessed Saints repose, to the soul of thy servant Fyodor who has fallen asleep and make his memory to be eternal!

Goodbye Fred. I will miss you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Memory Eternal

William Safire has reposed at 79. A truly great journalist who will be missed.

"Years later, Mr. Safire called Hillary Clinton a “congenital liar” in print. Mrs. Clinton said she was offended only for her mother’s sake. But a White House aide said that Bill Clinton, “if he were not president, would have delivered a more forceful response on the bridge of Mr. Safire’s nose.”

Mr. Safire was delighted, especially with the proper use of the conditional. "

Source.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Prayer Request...

The people of the Philippine Islands have been struck with a terrible and disastrous flood. Many people have been killed or are missing and an unknown, but certainly large, number are homeless. I am informed via Rorate Caeli that an occasional correspondent and sometimes commentor on this blog Mr. Carlos Antonio Palad has been affected by this calamity. I ask that in your kindness you please lift up Mr. Palad, his family and all of those afflicted by nature's wrath in your prayers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Words fail me

Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) grilling the Inspector General for the Federal Reserve.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What they really said...

Fr. Kimel has the inside scoop on the recent conversation between Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop +Hilarion.

Read it here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A New Bubble of the Fed's Creation

...Less encouraging is what's happening on Wall Street. It turns out that all those bold and necessary steps by the Federal Reserve to prevent the financial system from collapsing wound up creating so much liquidity that it has now spawned another financial bubble.

Let's start with the $1.45 trillion that the Fed has committed to propping up the mortgage market -- money that, for the most part, was simply printed. Effectively, most of that has been used to buy up bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from investors, who turned around and used the proceeds to buy "safer" U.S. Treasury bonds. At the same time, the Fed used an additional $300 billion to buy Treasurys directly. With all that money pouring into the market, you begin to understand why it is that Treasury prices have risen and interest rates fallen, even at a time when the government is borrowing record amounts of new money.

As it was printing all that money, the Fed was also lowering the interest rate at which banks borrow from the Fed and each other, to pretty close to zero. What didn't change was the interest rate banks charged everyone else. As a result, "spreads" between what banks pay for money and what they charge are near record highs.

So who is borrowing? By and large, it's not households and businesses, which are reluctant to borrow during a recession. Rather, it's hedge funds and other investors, who have been using the money to buy stocks, corporate bonds and commodities, driving prices to levels unsupported by the business and economic fundamentals...
Read the rest here.

Many Years!

To Archpriest Michael Dahulich on his election by the Holy Synod (OCA) as bishop of New York and New Jersey.

Quote of the day...

From a comment on the much discussed media reports of thawing relations between the Orthodox Church and Rome...
Communion with the Orthodox would be a beautiful miracle. The ways they would enrich each other would lead to a “new Christmas” in the Church. Orthodoxy would be refreshed with a “new Springtime” and Catholicism would be blessed with an even more lavish sacramental and liturgical life. Under such circumstances I think the ancient order of deaconesses would eventually be restored (as has already been by the Greek Church in principle) and women would have a sacred and historic way in which to be servant leaders and do much to help at parishes that struggle more and more with fewer and fewer priests. Already, Lay Ecclesical Ministers (mostly women) are the fastest growing vocation in the Roman Church. Such a move would also squash the fallacy of misogyny in the Church. So much good could potentially come from such a reunion as to allow the Church to become “all flame”.

May it be so!
-archangelica
Source.

Hat tip to Dr. Tighe.

My response to the media report can be found here. With respect to Archangelica's comment above; deaconesses are not the same thing as Deacons. It's a lay office. Laymen are not permitted to handle the Holy Mysteries of the Altar in the Orthodox Church. And whatever real differences we have with Rome, they are 100% correct in their position on W/O.

As for her reference to Orthodoxy being refreshed with a "new springtime" I am not sure what she meant by that. But if it is a reference to some kind of Vatican II style "reform;" we will pass thank you very much. That disaster and the resulting theological chaos in the Western Church is another reason why so many Orthodox want as little to do with Rome as possible.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anglicans and Councils

Perhaps it should go without saying that the Anglican Communion has a mixed history with the seven ecumenical councils. Like the Orthodox, Anglicans cannot accept Rome’s reduction of “ecumenical council” to mean a general synod called by the pope. Yet I suspect that most Anglicans — including many who call themselves Anglo-Catholics — remain deeply suspicious of claims to “infallibility” about councils, even when, regarding the seven, such a notion is held consistently in both East and West.

This suspicion is unfortunate—or so I hope to show in this brief essay. It is unfortunate first of all because it ignores the grammar implicit in calling something an ecumenical council. A council becomes ecumenical not because, crudely, everybody was there, but because it was eventually received as having proper dogmatic authority in the whole world. (Paragraph 68 of the Windsor Report admits as much.) The trouble with this simple definition is, as is probably apparent, the constitution of the oikoumene, since the “whole Church” that accepted Chalcedondid not include some of the Eastern churches, just as the “whole Church” that accepted Vatican I did not include any of the Eastern churches. So much for the perspicuity of the vocabulary.

What any conception of “ecumenical” takes for granted, then, is that in order to call something ecumenical one must be part of the Church. It is the Church itself, as the Body of Christ, that reveals its wholeness, not some external secular principle. Accordingly, we cannot seek to judge the councils from some neutral ground. That, in Vladimir Lossky’s words, “would be to judge Christianity from a non-Christian standpoint: in other words, to refuse in advance to understand anything whatever about the object of study. For objectivity in no wise consists in taking one’s stand outside an object but, on the contrary, in considering one’s object in itself and by itself” (The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church [Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976], 12).
Read the rest here.
Hat tip T-19

Archbishop Hilarion's speech at Sant’Egidio in Rome

Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk is the head of the External Affairs Department of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was in Rome for high level meetings with Pope Benedict XVI and senior hierarchs of the Roman Catholic Church.
Dear brothers and sisters of the community of Sant’Egidio,

It is with great joy that I have come this evening to be among you.

I am happy to be close to you once again and especially to see you once again, my friends Professor Andrea Riccardi and Bishop Vincenzo Paglia. I greet with joy the bishops who are present and I greet with love all of you who have come tonight to this church. Through you I would like to greet the whole community of Sant’Egidio throughout the world.

I would like to transmit to you the blessings and greetings of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. In his name, and also from myself and all of us who are present with you, I would like to tell you of the esteem and love that we have for your community. We esteem your love towards the poor, we treasure your work towards them and also those in need; the actions that you do in this city and in other cities to give food to the homeless, and the care which all the community of Sant’Egidio has for those who are on the margins of society.

With this commitment of yours, with this Christian ministry towards the poor, you practice the Gospel. In life, man suffers, and it’s here you find the face of the Lord. Through serving all the poor, you serve Him who said that what you do to each of my little brothers, you do to me.

We have great admiration for your contribution to dialogue, especially that between Christians those of different religions. And we are especially pleased and happy with the relationship of understanding and mutual esteem that has been established between your community and our Russian Orthodox Church.

We live in a de-Christianized world, in a time that some define—mistakenly—as post-Christian. Contemporary society, with its practical materialism and moral relativism, is a challenge to us all. The future of humanity depends on our response, as Christians, to this challenge, and maybe even whether life continues on our planet. It is a common challenge and also our answer must be common. Only together can we put forward all the spiritual and moral value of the Christian faith; only together can we offer our Christian vision for the family, only together can we affirm our concept of social justice, of a more equal distribution of goods.

These moral values are traditional because they have been affirmed by Christians for 20 centuries and have formed our cultural and European civilization. They are, at the same time, very new and modern, because the Gospel of Jesus is eternally new and modern. With this common challenge, the contemporary world challenges us, and we Christians must be together. It’s time to pass from confrontation to solidarity, mutual respect, and esteem. I would say without hesitating that we must pass to mutual love, living out Jesus’s commandment to love one another. As Jesus said, all will know you are disciples of mine if you have love for the other. This is what our preaching demands and it can be effective, it can be convincing, also in our contemporary world, if we are able to live this mutual love among us as Christians.

With these sentiments, I thank you once again for having invited us and I repeat to you my joy of being here tonight. And in order to express concretely our fraternal love for all the community of Sant’Egidio, I would like to give you this Russian icon of Our Lady.

I pray to the Mother of God to bless you all, and to protect and support you always in your commitment to love the Lord, serving every neighbor, and especially the poor and the disadvantaged.
Source

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thank You


Staff Sgt. Jared Monti could have stayed where he was.

Under ferocious attack from about 50 Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan and taking cover behind rocks with his badly outnumbered patrol, he could have waited for artillery and airstrikes to beat back the enemy.

But only yards away, on open ground, one of his men, a private, lay dying. Sergeant Monti dashed out to bring him to safety. Enemy fire forced him to retreat. He ran out again. More bullets and shrapnel forced him back. The enemy was so close that the patrol members could hear voices; the gunfire was so withering that one soldier had a rifle blown from his hands.

The third time Sergeant Monti tried, he was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. He died within minutes.

It’s impossible to pinpoint where Sergeant Monti, of the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y., got his courage and selflessness. Maybe from his parents, a nurse and a teacher, or from the Army, where sacrifice and service are part of the drill. Maybe he had those virtues all along.

Whatever their source, they came out in full force on that desperate night in June 2006. When President Obama presented Sergeant Monti’s Medal of Honor to his parents, Janet and Paul, at the White House on Thursday, he retold the stunning act of valor. He repeated the sergeant’s words, which made it a simple matter of duty: “No, he is my soldier. I’m going to get him.”

It is no detraction from Sergeant Monti’s singular sacrifice to note that unselfish courage is hardly uncommon in combat. His story is one among thousands that have emerged from Afghanistan and Iraq, as in any war. Here is another: After the firefight, when the wounded private, Brian Bradbury, and a medic, Staff Sgt. Heathe Craig, were being hoisted to a helicopter, a cable snapped, and they fell to their deaths.

These are three of the dead from two conflicts that have killed more than 5,000 Americans since 2001. Rarely, very rarely, the country takes notice. Some of us paused briefly to do so on Thursday, then went on with our business. Medals and speeches, and newspaper articles, are inadequate in the face of such sacrifice, as Lincoln noted almost 150 years ago. There is little the rest of us can do, except to remember, with gratitude, what people like Sergeant Monti have done.

Source.

Peter Schiff is running for the Senate

If at first you don't succeed... try try again

Here are the salient facts. Mr. Romell Broom was convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death in 1984. On Tuesday night the state of Ohio spent two hours trying kill Mr. Broom, and they failed. Mr. Broom was escorted into the execution chamber and strapped onto a gurney. After which, the next two hours were spent poking him with needles in an unsuccessful effort to find a suitable vein through which to administer an injection of lethal drugs. All the while Mr. Broom remained strapped to the gurney in some discomfort expecting to be killed. After the two hours of failed needle sticking the state of Ohio gave up for the night.

The plan to try to kill Mr. Broom again next week.

This is not the first time Ohio (or other states) have had difficulty killing someone by lethal injection. It is however the first time that the state actually gave up and plans to try again later on. It is also believed to be only the second time in modern American history where there will be a "do-over" execution. The only previous case being in 1946 when Willie Francis (aged 16 and African American) was strapped into the Louisiana electric chair for killing a pharmacist who had sexually molested him. The electric chair malfunctioned and delivered a severe but non-lethal shock. The boy could be heard screaming from under the leather hood in agony and yelling that he could not breathe. Eventually they too gave up. The chair was repaired and plans were quickly made to try again. However a lawyer took the case (pro-bono) and appealed, claiming that attempting to execute someone twice was cruel and unusual punishment. The United States Supreme Court disagreed in a 5-4 decision and the boy was again strapped into the chair in May of 1947. This time it worked.

I am sorry. But this is the United States of America, not medieval Spain. If you are going to have capital punishment it needs to be done right. You don't get to spend two hours trying to kill someone and then call it a night while planning to try again later. The Governor should have called a halt to this grotesque spectacle within the first 20 minutes at the latest. In Great Britain back before they abolished the death penalty, an execution was considered a failure if the condemned man spent more then 30 seconds on the trap door of the gallows before being hanged.

This is nothing less than barbarism.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Memory Eternal

It is with sadness that I have learned of the repose of the mother of Fr. Stephen Freeman (OCA). Please keep him as also his mother and all of the Freeman clan in your prayers.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Moscow sees union near with Russian Orthodox

The Catholic Archbishop of Moscow has given a remarkably upbeat assessment of relations with the Orthodox Church, saying unity between Catholics and Orthodox could be achieved “within a few months.”

In an interview today in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi said the miracle of reunification “is possible, indeed it has never been so close.” The archbishop added that Catholic-Orthodox reunification, the end of the historic schism that has divided them for a millennium, and spiritual communion between the two churches “could happen soon, also within a few months.”

“Basically we were united for a thousand years,” Archbishop Pezzi said. “Then for another thousand we were divided. Now the path to rapprochement is at its peak, and the third millennium of the Church could begin as a sign of unity.” He said there were “no formal obstacles” but that “everything depends on a real desire for communion.”

On the part of the Catholic Church, he added, “the desire is very much alive.”
Read the rest here.

Lest I be labeled a polemicist, I will confine myself to saying that I am dubious.

Update: Apparently I am behind the curve and this is being much discussed throughout the blogosphere. See The Ochlophobist, Eirenikon and the Young Fogey.

The Best Fix for Pollution: Birth Control?

To heck with carbon dioxide. A new study performed by the London School of Economics suggests that, to fight climate change, governments should focus on another pollutant: us.

As in babies. New people.

Every new life, the report says, is a guarantee of new greenhouse gases, spewed out over decades of driving and electricity use. Seen in that light, we might be our own worst emissions.
Read the rest here.

I would laugh. But I think they were serious.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back Again

Sorry for the down time. This weekend was something of an adventure, and not in the good sense. Anyone who sent me email this weekend I will try to get back to you ASAP.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Congress the President and Civility


As anyone who pays even a modicum of attention to news and current events knows, last night President Obama delivered his much anticipated speech on health care reform to Congress. As speeches go it was pretty good. I hate to admit it, but he is probably the most gifted public speaker to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. since Jack Kennedy. Yet his speech was somewhat overshadowed by the rather surly reception it got from the Republican minority. There were some cat calls and rather vocal hissing during his address. But the scene that will almost certainly be remembered was when Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) loudly shouted "You Lie!" at the President right after Mr. Obama made the (debatable) claim that his health insurance plan would not cover illegal aliens.

Setting aside for the moment the reasonable question of whether the President's statement was in fact accurate, calling the President of the United States a liar on national television during an address to a joint session of Congress was a grave breach in etiquette. There are limits to legitimate expressions of dissent and that was clearly beyond the pale. To the credit of all involved; the leadership of the GOP realized this immediately and spoke with Rep. Wilson after the speech. For his part Congressman Wilson phoned the White House to apologize and followed up with a written apology released to the press.

Of course Congress has a history of "lively" debate and heated exchanges. While I don't think we want to go back to those days, my Godfather pointed out in some recent correspondence that members of Congress back in the day were not as restrained in their passions as they are today. Fisticuffs were not unknown, members in the Senate (especially during the years predating the Civil War) often carried weapons onto the floor of the chamber and dueling was common. Perhaps the most stunning display of hot headedness occurred on May 22nd 1856 when Congressman Preston Brooks (also of South Carolina) attacked Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) on the floor of the Senate and nearly beat him to death with a cane while an accomplice held other Senators at bay with a loaded pistol. Senator Sumner had recently delivered a scalding and highly personal attack on Senator Andrew Butler a near relative of Brooks.

It is quite possible that Republican heckling and Wilson's outburst could have unintended consequences. If the Republicans came across to Americans as behaving badly or disrespecting the President then it might damage their ability to politically challenge Obama on the health care reforms now being debated in Washington. Wilson appears to have already become something of a hero to those on the far right. But it is worth recalling that Preston Brooks also became a hero in the South following his attack on Senator Sumner. He was buried in an avalanche of fan mail with many southerners sending him new walking sticks to replace the one he broke over Sumner’s head.

In the North the reaction was quite different. Sumner was a not terribly popular radical abolitionist whose often incendiary rhetoric alienated many more moderate political figures in the North. The North itself was by no means abolitionist in its sentiment up to this point. Indeed most Northerners, if not actually sympathetic to the South, were at least largely indifferent and felt that Southern "domestic customs and institutions" were no business of theirs.

But the beating of Sumner on the Senate floor changed that. In an instant it galvanized the North and infuriated public opinion. There was universal condemnation of Brooks and overnight the South became a caricature for political backwardness and violent repression of free speech. Southerners were vilified as near barbarians. Northern public opinion had permanently turned against the South and this would have profound consequences for the future. Most historians credit the incident with helping to propel the Republican Party (hitherto a small abolitionist party) to national political prominence.

Obviously it would be grossly unfair to put Joe Wilson's rudeness in the same category as the savage beating inflicted on a United States Senator a century and half ago. But it is worth noting that in politics public opinion can be swayed by sentiment as easily as by facts. This is a lesson those opposed to the political agenda of the president need to keep in mind. President Obama is not above criticism and we must refute any effort to put him on some sort of dais. But we must also be careful to recall that he is not simply a prime minister such as exists in Great Britain who can be challenged on the floor of the House of Commons (though even there Wilson's outburst would have been out of bounds). He is also our head of state.

Like it or not, the Founders chose not to establish a monarchical head of state and instead combined the office with the head of the government. There is an old saying in the military that we salute the rank, never the man. Where the president is concerned I think this rule should be observed as far as possible. Barrack Obama is a political person with a political agenda. That makes him a fair target for criticism. But as the head of state he is also the ceremonial head of the nation. And yes that does mean that sometimes we need to bite our tongue and save the attacks for the right venue.

It now remains to be seen if this unfortunate incident has legs or if it will be quickly forgotten by the public. I think we may count on the Democrats to do all they can to make political hay of it. Republicans, if they wish to be successful, need to stay on message and avoid making our political battles personal.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Russia's Patriarch Increasingly Becoming Major Force In Politics

When Patriarch Kirill visited Russia's largest shipyard in late August, he was greeted with full military honors.

As a brass band played at the Northern Shipyard in Severodvisnk, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church strolled past a row of sailors in dress uniform, boarded a nuclear submarine, and presented the crew with an icon of the Mother of God.

He later said Russia's defense capabilities need to be bolstered by Orthodox Christian values.

"You should not be ashamed of going to church and teaching the Orthodox faith to your children," the patriarch told the Severodvinsk workers. "Then we shall have something to defend with our missiles."
Read the rest here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pope Benedict points to St. Augustine as source of unity with Orthodox

Rome, Italy, Sep 4, 2009 / 10:08 am (CNA).- In a letter he sent Thursday to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI has underscored that the teachings of St. Augustine are a path seeking unity with the Orthodox.

The message from the Pope was sent to Cardinal Kasper as the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium gathered in Rome. The meeting was organized by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Aristotle Orthodox Theological Faculty of Thessalonica.

In his message, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for “this initiative of fraternal encounter and exchange on the common aspects of spirituality, which is beneficial for a closer relationship between Catholics and Orthodox.”

After noting that the location of the meeting in Rome provides a “strong stimulus to advance toward full communion and above all, the memory of the Apostles Peter and Paul,” Pope Benedict XVI explained that the meeting’s theme, “St. Augustine in the Western and Eastern Tradition,” is "most interesting for reflecting further on Christian theology and spirituality in the West and in the East, and on its development.”
Read the rest here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

There is an alarming whiff of extremism in the air

I can count on one hand with fingers left over the number of times I have agreed with something that Frank Rich has written. But as the old saying goes... "even a stopped clock is right twice a day." I have been concerned for sometime about the increasing visibility of the lunatic fringe and their apparent obsession with guns and revolution. As I stated in a previous post on a similar theme, it is time for respectable and mainstream conservatives to make it clear that these wing nuts do not represent us.
“IT is time to water the tree of liberty” said the sign carried by a gun-toting protester milling outside President Obama’s town-hall meeting in New Hampshire two weeks ago. The Thomas Jefferson quote that inspired this message, of course, said nothing about water: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” That’s the beauty of a gun — you don’t have to spell out the “blood.”

The protester was a nut. America has never had a shortage of them. But what’s Tom Coburn’s excuse? Coburn is a Republican senator from Oklahoma, where 168 people were murdered by right-wing psychopaths who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Their leader, Timothy McVeigh, had the Jefferson quote on his T-shirt when he committed this act of mass murder. Yet last Sunday, when asked by David Gregory on “Meet the Press” if he was troubled by current threats of “violence against the government,” Coburn blamed not the nuts but the government.

“Well, I’m troubled any time when we stop having confidence in our government,” the senator said, “but we’ve earned it.”

Coburn is nothing if not consistent. In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, he was part of a House contingent that helped delay and soften an antiterrorism bill. This cohort even tried to strip out a provision blocking domestic fund-raising by foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas. Why? The far right, in league with the National Rifle Association, was angry at the federal government for aggressively policing America’s self-appointed militias. In a 1996 floor speech, Coburn conceded that “terrorism obviously poses a serious threat,” but then went on to explain that the nation had worse threats to worry about: “There is a far greater fear that is present in this country, and that is fear of our own government.” As his remarks on “Meet the Press” last week demonstrated, the subsequent intervention of 9/11 has not changed his worldview.

I have been writing about the simmering undertone of violence in our politics since October, when Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential candidate of a major political party, said nothing to condemn Obama haters shrieking “Treason!,” “Terrorist!” and “Off with his head!” at her rallies. As vacation beckons, I’d like to drop the subject, but the atmosphere keeps getting darker.

Coburn’s implicit rationalization for far-right fanatics bearing arms at presidential events — the government makes them do it! — cannot stand. He’s not a radio or Fox News bloviator paid a fortune to be outrageous; he’s a card-carrying member of the United States Senate. On Monday — the day after he gave a pass to those threatening violence — a dozen provocateurs with guns, at least two of them bearing assault weapons, showed up for Obama’s V.F.W. speech in Phoenix. Within hours, another member of Congress — Phil Gingrey of Georgia — was telling Chris Matthews on MSNBC that as long as brandishing guns is legal, he, too, saw no reason to discourage Americans from showing up armed at public meetings.
Read the rest here.

China Urges Citizens to Buy Gold and Silver

Things that make you go hmmmm...
People in North America and Europe are used to seeing plenty of advertisements for gold and silver – from opportunists urging people to get rid of their “useless” gold and silver for cash! Clearly this is a bullish indicator for the market, as these companies wouldn't be spending large amounts of advertising dollars to hype “scrap” sales, and then even more money buying the metals if they didn't see the opportunity for big profits.

It turns out that there is also “advertising” for gold and silver in China, too. The big difference here is that it is China's government which is advertising the “opportunities” in gold and silver and it is urging the Chinese people to buy gold and silver.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Rare Color Photographs of Czarist Russia

The Library of Congress has a display of photographs taken by the royal photographer of Czar St. Nicholas II online. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was given special funding and transportation by the Czar, including a private train, with the commission to create a photographic record of his vast empire. Prokudin-Gorskii used a self developed method to create color photographs at a time when that kind of technology was almost non-existent. The result is a magnificent collection of color pictures of the Russian Empire dating to the first decade of the previous century through roughly 1915. A small sampling of the photographs are below. Click on the pictures to view them in full size.

Church of the Nativity of the Virgin of the Trinity-Ipat'ev Monastery (early 14th century) near Kostroma on the Volga. The church was demolished by the Communists. This is believed to be the only color photograph of the church in existence.

A Sunni Muslim Dagestani in traditional attire.

A. P. Kalganov poses with his son and granddaughter for a portrait in the industrial town of Zlatoust in the Ural Mountains region of Russia.

Pinkhus Karlinskii (84), the supervisor of the Chernigov floodgate, stands by a ferry dock along the Mariinskii Canal system in the northern part of European Russia.

The Village of Kolchedan (1912) in the Ural Mountains near Ekaterinburg.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009