Don Beland is converting his five-bedroom suburban home in Holly Springs, N.C., into a farm—indoors. WSJ Subscription-Required Link. Of course, Don Beland has a supportive wife, which is something that, ahem, not all of us have. I feel fortunate to have enough grow lamp space to start about 100 plugs in my house (I also have a grow station in the basement of my law office, where I can start about 250 plugs).
The article is pretty interesting. It describes various home-based indoor grow operations and the impressive extent to which some guys have taken it. Even I think some of it goes too far, as evidenced by this: “Mr. Beecroft has converted a living room bar into a seed-starting operation.” Unless he’s using it to grow cocktail garnishments, that’s kinda disturbing.
Is your week going well? Let’s see if we can change that: “Underwater supervolcano could erupt without warning and kill 100 million people.” Link. Fortunately for us, the volcano is located off the coast of Japan, so, other than a potential worldwide volcanic winter, its direct impact won’t be felt in the United States. And heck, it might even free us from the terrible NBC Olympics coverage.
I’ve more or less followed the Fulton Bones controversy over the past few years. As I understand it, everybody agreed the body would stay in NYC, but then NYC continued to ignore the cause: just did nothing for many, many years despite pleas from the family, until, finally, Fulton’s nearest relative got fed up and started the process from the Peoria Diocese. Now that all the work is done, the NY Diocese says the bones ought to stay there. New York is nothing if not dishonorable.
Welcome to Clean Monday. It’s the Greek Orthodox Church’s Ash Wednesday. So if you already botched your Lenten vows, you can kinda start over today.
One was stupid, one was vapid, one was heretical: my experiences with retreats. I vowed never to do another, but alas, I have the resolve of a Kennedy in a brothel three-year-old in a candy shop, so I’m going to another one. This one, I’m assured, will be different. It’s a Cursillo. Three days. I can’t have my phone or my car. Fortunately, it’s being held only five miles from my house . . . and just a mile from a bar where I know the manager. If it’s no good, I’ll have my LPT (Leather Personnel Transport) take me to the nearest pay phone and call for help.
To be honest, I’m far more optimistic than that. If the retreat, however, starts out with a day dedicated to instructing me on the ABCs of Catholicism, I’m going to bolt. The devil knows scripture, this I know from personal experience. I’m interested in application.
The polar vortex has split. I don’t know what that means, but I understand the result: warmer temperatures for me. “[T]he vortex over western Canada could bring spring-like conditions for the Eastern U.S. in the second half of February through early March. Temperatures for the next few weeks could be 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit above average for this time of year. Highs in the 70s Fahrenheit are possible from Washington, D.C. to New York City.” Link.
Common sense slowly makes its way back: “The Department of Education has decided it will not investigate or interfere if transgender students complain they are barred from bathrooms that match their chosen gender . . . On Thursday, Buzzfeed asked Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, if restroom complaints from transgender students are not covered by a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX. Hill answered, ‘Yes, that’s what the law says,” adding on Friday, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.'” Link.
Of course, as soon as we get another demogogue in the White House, the policy will switch, which is why we simply need to shrink the federal government. If the federal government didn’t have so much power, neither side would be able to wield it.
It reminds me of Frank Chodorov, who opposed the Red Scare witch hunts. Someone said, what would you do about Communists in high government offices? Chodorov said, “Eliminate the high government offices.”
The Democrats created the Mexican immigration problem with their 1965 Immigration Act and by revoking (greatly restricting) the work visa program in the 1990s to make the unions happy, and now they won’t give relief to the Dreamers because they don’t want Trump to get his wall. Absolutely no shame. Unbelievable. * * * * * * * And don’t say “They resist the wall because it’s too expensive.” Please. The left has never, ever cared two cents about costs, whether it’s the New Deal, LBJ’s guns and butter, or Obamacare. No cost is too much. * * * * * * * From Reddit’s Today I Learned: “TIL a man was fined $48,000 by the FCC for using a cell phone jammer everyday on his commute, because he didn’t like motorists around him on their phones.” Link. That was kind of a jerk thing to do, but one I sympathize with. * * * * * * * If I were in charge, I could’ve sleuthed out the Nikolas Cruz threat way ahead of the catastrophe. I would’ve looked at him for half a second and said, “Yup, this guy is whacked in the head.” I mean, just look at him. * * * * * * * It’s not often I see a Ry Cooder tribute. * * * * * * * 11 strange habits of these eleven geniuses. Tesla would “curl his toes 100 times per foot every evening before going to bed because he thought the practice boosted his brain cells.” * * * * * * * Curious about the Jordan Peterson phenom? Here’s a primer. He’s highly recommended.
I never even knew there was such a thing, outside of the pages of Modern Drunkard Magazine, but there is . . . and he wrote during the first half of the twentieth century, helping to bring to the public mind classic drinks like the Mojito and Gin and Tonic.
It’s not such a stretch to compare Baker to the celebrated Victorian explorers Dr. David Livingstone and Sir Richard Burton. While they boldly set out in search of riverheads, lost cities and fresh sources of malaria, Baker crisscrossed the globe tracking down legendary cocktails to their sources, bringing to light new tipples, and contracting, again and again, what he liked to call “lethal morning-after disease.” He lurched down the bustling back streets of exotic locales in road-wrinkled white linen suits, sniffing out hidden bars; he expertly bluffed his way into private clubs and gilded mansions, interrogating barmen and bigshots alike, all in a near-fanatical bid to catalog worthy cocktails and codify the rules of drinking.
The article impressed me enough to prompt me to his Wikipedia entry and to purchase his collection of drinking essays, Jigger, Beaker and Glass: Drinking Around the World.
I’m really looking forward to getting to know this pioneer.
This piece brought together a lot of 2018 strands for me: “Debunking the Caricature of Jack Kerouac the Nihilist.” The piece basically affirms what I taught last month at my Theology on Tap presentation: Jack Kerouac, godfather of the 1960s, was a spiritual writer and serious Catholic. According to the article, Kerouac was a Buddhist for only three years (something I didn’t know, even though I’ve read a lot about Kerouac).
Excerpt: “Underlying all of this as Kerouac’s spiritual bedrock was his Catholic upbringing in Lowell, Massachusetts among working-class French Canadian immigrants. Kerouac described himself as a ‘strange solitary Catholic mystic’ whose ecstatic vision of life was the direct result of an eschatology of the end of time. What he longed for was contact with the heavenly eternity overlaying and occasionally penetrating our anodyne perceptions of time. ‘Life is a dream already over,’ he said.”
The article is a book review of a new book by Robert Inchausti, Hard to be a Saint in the City: The Spiritual Vision of the Beats. Weirdly, Inchausti’s Subversive Orthodoxy caught my eye on my bookshelf last weekend. I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, I forgot I had that book. I should give it another look.” I had forgotten, despite my underlining, that he dedicated a small section of the book to Kerouac.
Based on my margin notes, I appear to have read most of the book (I’m guessing I jumped around a bit), but I can’t say it left an impression on me.
But what I found most bizarre about the article: It was published in The American Conservative and it was written by Scott Beauchamp, who has a book coming out soon from the Marxist publishing house, Zero Books. Zero Books is run by Doug Lain, the man I called “the good Marxist” in this December 2017 post. So, the good Marxist is publishing a book by a frequent TAC contributor . . . albeit a writer who publishes in a lot of venues and a writer who is well-versed in literature and the Beatniks in general. I can’t say I know enough about Beauchamp yet, but I know enough to start following his Twitter feed, which reveals that he has an interest in Catholic and literary things.
Or to Valentine’s Day, if that suits your disposition better.
This Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day confluence, incidentally, is great for husbands married to Catholic wives. What Catholic woman wants a lavish dinner and flowers on Valentine’s Day? And what devout Catholic woman even says anything about getting denied such pleasures on the first day of the penitential season?
Lent neareth. Remember to eat and drink a lot tonight so tomorrow is even harder.
My next Theology on Tap lecture is entitled “Zen Lent.” It’s an extension on my Kerouac lecture. Kerouac was a Buddhist, I guess, or at least practiced Zen . . . or maybe kind of thought of himself as a Hinayana Buddhist. I’m not really sure, quite frankly, and I don’t think he was, but we got on the topic last month and three different people asked if I could talk about Zen this month. Because it’s Lent, I’m combining the two. It’s going to be a lecture about Zen, with a Lenten kicker at the end.
And what is the Lenten kicker? Precisely this: I think Zen might explain why so many of us enter Lent with great intentions and come out of Lent miserable failures. More importantly, I think it might provide a solution. I’m tempted to say that I’m positive it provides a solution, but since I haven’t empirically proven it to myself, I don’t want to speak definitively. I don’t want to be like those overweight people who give other people dieting advice.
That Zen history pictured above is a classic, btw, written by a Jesuit. A good Jesuit or a bad one, I can’t say, but a Jesuit. I’ve read large chunks of the book and, based on what I’ve read, it’s very good. I also have the second volume in the series. It’s one of those reading projects I’d love to take and just absorb myself in it at my leisure, like Henry Ryecroft receiving that small annuity and retiring to his cottage to spend time with his books (only to find out shortly thereafter that he’s dying).
That Gissing novel is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read . . . or at least, so I thought when I was in my thirties. I’m going to start reading it again to see what I think 15 years later.
Other reading “projects” I’d like to take on: Dostoyevsky’s Writer’s Diary, the works of Maximos the Confessor (with an eye toward love and the Stoic-like detachment it fosters), von Balthasar in general, and the works of Josef Pieper.
Housekeeping matter: Yesterday, I used the word “isolationist” to describe people opposed to empire building. That’s the wrong word. The correct word is “non-interventionist”: people who oppose American military intervention but are in favor of international trade.
It’s almost time to start seeds indoors. If you’re ordering seeds online, please order them from Max’s site: MAXimumgreens.com. The seeds we order are drop-shipped from one of the most reputable sellers in the market. Our pricing, including shipping charges, is intentionally kept identical so you’re no worse off ordering from Max. Also: If there are any seeds or gardening tools or fertilizer you want but don’t see at our site, email us and we’ll find it. email@example.com. Thanks!
NBC apologizes for “ignorant” comment during opening ceremony. The commentator said that the Koreans respect Japan for its “cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.” Link. When I heard the comment Friday night, I was like, “Hmmmm, that kinda surprises me, but I haven’t talked with many Koreans lately, so maybe they’re over it.” Apparently not.
I don’t think it can reasonably be doubted that WWII is the great American moment that wasn’t great at all. I guess I’d say we were half great (or one-quarter great). We stopped two aggressive, bastard, regimes (Germany and Japan), but capitulated to two far more aggressive and larger regimes (USSR and China). We stopped two regimes that were willing to kill ten million civilians in pursuit of their ideology and capitulated to two regimes that were willing to kill 100 million civilians. You can call that “great” if you want to, but it’s a stretch. I have no doubt that there was only so much America could do and we deserve credit for trying and at least stopping the lesser threats, but to act like we saved the world, that’s absurd.
And for our success in WWII, we paid the ultimate price as a nation: We permanently lost our isolationist blood, transforming us from a prosperous country hopelessly torn between isolationists and empire builders into a country devoted wholeheartedly to empire building (but, of course, denying it). Read the rest of this entry »
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