Mardi Gras is here. The New Orleans parade schedule is here. * * * * * * * You’d think some cable channel would televise the parades. Talk about cheap programming for an event many people are curious about. * * * * * * * I went to Youtube, thinking maybe I could find some decent footage. I had to take a shower right afterwards. * * * * * * * This ten-minute travel documentary about today’s Mardi Gras is pretty good and safe, but if I missed any R-rated material, don’t blame me. I only watched about two-thirds of it. * * * * * * * Marie and I have long meant to go to New Orleans, but when Katrina hit, we dropped the discussions. We might have to revisit them. . . but not during Mardi Gras. * * * * * * * Is vegetable gardening a manly pursuit? Not according to my circle, which typically addresses me as “faggot,” “Mrs.” and “nerd” when I bring up gardening. I’ve never taken offense, since ten years ago, I would’ve addressed a male vegetable gardener as “faggot,” “Mrs.” and “nerd.” But hey, according to The Art of Manliness, vegetable gardening is one of 75 manly hobbies. “If you have a job that keeps you cooped up in an office all day with artificial light and stale recycled air, gardening is a great hobby to pursue in order to get some exercise, sunlight, and fresh air. As you watch your garden grow from seeds to plants, you’ll find yourself becoming more in tune with the seasons. When you harvest your small crop, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment . . .”. * * * * * * * Problem is, the list contains some doubtfully manly hobbies, such as ballroom dancing, birding, blogging, drawing, cooking, volunteering, singing, and candle making (wth?). There’s nothing wrong with those hobbies, but I’m not convinced they’re any more manlier than, say, quilting, movie watching, knitting . . . or vegetable gardening. * * * * * * * The vast bulk of the list incidentally, is great and includes hobbies I’d never thought of (e.g., alcohol connoisseur, knife throwing, and parkour).
“Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a claim on, even its ice-compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like food. Get one of your own and have it fitted with racks the thickness of a bottle apart.” Kingsley Amis. Amen to that. We have two refrigerators, and it’s hell looking for limes, lemons, a particular beer, etc. It’s gotten even worse with the advent of my degenerative back disk. Thankfully, Marie is still spry and able to do the stooping.
On Music in bars: “If you dislike what is being played, you use up energy and patience in the attempt to ignore it; if you like it, you will want to listen to it and not to talk or be talked to, not to do what you came to the pub largely to do.” Kingsley Amis. I agree with Amis on this one if the music is loud, but I think music in the background is important in a social setting. It fills in the gaps. I guess if you’re with real old friends, the kind you can sit with and not talk for ten minutes with no awkward feeling, you might not need the background music, but otherwise, mild music in the background is nice.
On the Little Arts: “Serving good drinks, like producing anything worth while, from a poem to a motor-car, is troublesome and expensive.” Yes, rat own. And it makes a huge difference, as the cocktailing world has figured out. The difference between a thoughtful vodka-tonic and sloshing Mountain Dew over cheap vodka is huge . . . and the difference between a well-crafted complex cocktail and a decent vodka-tonic is more than negligible.
On Pure Evil: “A friend of mine, whose mother-in-law gets a little excited after a couple of drinks, goes one better in preparing her third by pouring tonic on ice, wetting a fingertip with gin and passing it round the rim of the glass, but victims of this procedure must be selected with extreme care.” Hoooo. That’s a tough one. Tricking a person into thinking he’s getting alcohol but isn’t. I agree with Amis: Victims must be selected with extreme care. If someone did this to me after just two drinks, there’d be hell to pay. But after three drinks, as the evening is wearing on? It could be an act of charity.
Bar Trivia: “Poe himself had a drink problem; contrary to popular belief, he was not a dipsomaniac, but his system was abnormally intolerant of alcohol, so that just a couple of slugs would lay him on his back, no doubt with a real premature-burial of a hangover to follow.” I’ve ran into this problem twice this year (yes, 2016). I am hellbent to lose twenty pounds, with the result that I am constantly hungry and fatigued. This has twice spun my system out of whack prematurely while drinking . . . and one time gave me the premature-burial of a hangover. Until I stabilize my weight under 170 pounds, I’ve sworn off more than two (okay, maybe three) moderate drinks at a sitting.
Hillary is facing criticism for declaring victory in Iowa prematurely. The final results weren’t actually announced till around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, but she declared victory back in April of last year.
After receiving less than 1 percent support in the Iowa caucuses, Martin O’Malley suspended his presidential campaign. In a related story, the New York Jets have announced that they’ve decided to not play in the Super Bowl this weekend.
Experts are saying that the low turnout for Jeb Bush in Iowa means that he spent almost $3,000 per vote. Man, talk about a waste of $6,000.
Brownson said, on a speaking tour on “The Church and the Republic” that every society is exposed to two opposite dangers: absolutism of the state and absolutism of the individual. In order to mediate between the two dangers, and give each, the state and the individual, their due, there must be a third party, and the only party capable of mediating is the Church.
The social critic Lewis Mumford found the space program “anti-human.” Space travel, he argued, requires “the total mobilization of the megamachine, commanding to the point of exhaustion all the resources of the state: it is both a symbol of total control and a means of popularizing it and extending it as an ineffable symbol of progress.” Mumford urged the NASA-bedazzled to look homeward: “No comatose space travel, no millennial hibernation, however interminable, promise even a scintilla of what earthbound man has already accomplished.”
I’m reminded of a stop my family made in Huntsville, Alabama to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. They had a big exhibit that featured all the improvements the space program has brought to America. Every single item was an incidental discovery. I wanted to ask, “Can you show me a single benefit from, you know, actually putting a man on the moon?”
I have little doubt, on the other hand, that satellites have improved things for mankind. I see benefits all the time in my office: new satellite survey techniques have revealed that old surveys are inaccurate, resulting in property line disputes, which result in more legal fees. So that’s cool (wry smile).
I always get a bit of blowback when I say I’m not voting in state and federal elections. Just so I’m clear on this: I have always voted. There is nary a vote–whether local, state, or federal–that I haven’t voted in. I stood in line for over two hours to vote in the 1996 presidential election. I voted in 2012, even though our choices were miserable.
I have always voted.
But now feel like a dupe for doing so.
Because I don’t think it makes a difference: The Washington Party is in control, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans.
That being said, I was at a cocktail party last month and was talking with a guy who pretty much agrees with me on these things (pro-life, has a garden, thinks the economy is a looming trainwreck, etc.). He conceded that it ultimately makes no difference whether a Republican or Democrat wins the presidency: the federal government’s mauling wheels are in full motion and nothing is going to stop them. He did, however, think it makes a short-term difference. Rough quote, “Even though there is no real difference between the parties, it does make a difference in the velocity .”
That, I thought, is a valid distinction. Substantively and long-term? No difference. But in terms of delaying the inevitable triumph of the Techno-DC-Wall Street Triumverate a few more years?
It might make a difference.
Astute readers will notice that the first line of my post on Saturday read, “Would I vote for Trump in the Republican primary?” I said I probably wouldn’t vote at all. That hasn’t changed.
But I don’t see myself sitting out the election in November. If nothing else, the idea of a Hillary White House disgusts me and the prospect of a Sanders Socialist White House fills me with fear. Although there won’t be a palatable choice on the Republican side, I will at least go cast a negative vote against the Democrat side.
Happy February. It’s normally a great feeling to get January under our belt, but this January was so mild, I don’t feel a great sense of relief. My gardening thumb is itching, though. I have microgreens planted in the living room. I should get my first crop in about a week. * * * * * * * Marie introduced me to a nifty show this weekend: Hack My Life. The Lifehacker website introduced me to the Dorco razor and freed me from the overpriced tyranny of the Gillette Fusion, so I gave this show a try. It was pretty good. It moves really fast and is peppered with interesting items. Yes, a lot of the banter is annoying, but if you’re looking for something to watch for 20 minutes while you eat your dinner, it’s not bad. * * * * * * * The Islamization Of America In 2015 (Part 1) and Part 2. Muslims are now 1% of the American population. They can’t be assimilated. “More than half (51%) of Muslims in America believe they should ‘have the choice of being governed according to Sharia.’ Only 39% of those polled said that Muslims in the U.S. should be subject to American courts. Nearly a quarter believed that, ‘It is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed.’ Nearly one-fifth of Muslim respondents said that the use of violence in the U.S. is justified in order to make Sharia the law of the land in this country.” * * * * * * * Let’s not Merkelize ourselves. We need to cork it before it’s too late. Even Bill Clinton gets it: Islamic politics “advocates the world’s greatest double standard: if you come to our country, we won’t let you worship the way you want, we won’t let you say what you want to say… However, we have come to your country, therefore we have the right to do whatever we want to do, including kill you if you make us mad.”
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