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    BYCU
    July 3, 2020

    Drinking and COVID and the Great Outdoors

    Welcome to the Height of Summer. July 4th Weekend. An event that, I think, cracks the Top 5 on the drinking calendar:

    1. Thanksgiving Eve
    2. New Years Eve
    3. St. Patrick’s Day
    4. Memorial Day
    5. Fourth of July
    6. One’s Birthday
    7. Halloween
    8. Labor Day
    9. Super Bowl Sunday
    10. Mardi Gras

    People can dispute that list. I, for one, don’t drink much on St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Mardi Gras, or Halloween, but I know they’re huge in some people’s drinking calendar, so I included them in that top ten list.

    Me? I’m drinking this weekend. I actually started last night while wrapping up at the office, around 6:30.

    It’s been a COVID brutal week and I hadn’t sipped alcohol for nine days. I needed a drink.

    We came back from vacation last weekend to find my town in COVID disarray. A slew of high profile people I know had come down with COVID; a local physician’s assistant died from it; a local medical office was supposedly administering COVID tests without protective gear (that last one, I have a hard time believing). The town was running scared. Everyone was muttering “F’ing epicenter.”

    And my son’s large indoor Mexican wedding reception loomed two weeks away, with guests dropping off like flies.

    So we regrouped Tuesday night and decided we had to think outside the box.

    Outside the box? We went outside altogether. And moved it to our house, in our backyard. Google searches reveal things like “COVID is an indoor phenomenon“; in one study of 318 infection clusters, only one jumped among people indoors; exercising outside reduces chance of infection by a magnitude of ten; you’re 19 times more likely to catch COVID indoors than out. On top of that, the podcasts are abuzz with claims that UV light kills COVID.

    So, it looks like outside gatherings are pretty safe. Not entirely safe, but pretty safe.

    Sooooooo, I relented. Although it’s not my wedding and not my call, I said the kids could use my backyard. And they’ve put in place a lot of safeguards: no dinner outside of immediate family and the wedding party; individually-wrapped snacks; each guest provided with a “party favor” COVID disinfectant spray bottle; encourage a second “gathering” space away from the main area where people can stay away from the less social distancing group; reduced numbers in hope of keeping 100 or fewer people in each area.

    And our unequivocal blessing to those who still don’t feel comfortable attending.

    It’s going to be a long next eight days.

    I’m glad this weekend is Number 5 on the calendar drinking list.

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    From the Notebooks
    July 2, 2020

    Mesopotamia

    Modern day Iraq. The birthplace of civilization. This is where writing and history began. That’s why it’s significant. The Tigris and Euphrates fertilize the area, making it reasonably fruitful, especially where the Tigris and Euphrates come a lot closer together . . . Which is where the great city of Babylon was. The Tower of Babel was (you guessed it) in Babylon. This is where the very first civilizations emerged. And yes, it is normally the front-runner among scholars who try to figure out where the Garden of Eden would have existed, both due to Genesis referring to streams coming together and, well, this is where the first civilized humans were found. If Neanderthals were suddenly endowed with a soul, thereby turning them from animals into rational creatures, but without jeeps to drive them far, it makes sense we’d find them in the same region a few thousand years later, building cities.

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    From the Notebooks
    July 1, 2020

    Babylon

    The capital of the Empire of Babylonia, which crushed Judah in 589 BC, thereby ending the Promised Kingdom. It’s been hated ever since. Back before there was Nazi Germany, people who disagreed with you might juxtapose you to Babylon. Martin Luther’s famous “The Whore of Babylon,” for instance, to reference the Papacy.

    It’s 40 miles south of Baghdad. Just ruins now, but it was once the greatest city on earth, featuring one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: The Gardens of Babylon. One of its greatest rulers, Hammurabi, gave us the first set of codified laws: Hammurabi’s Code. It was where Alexander the Great proposed to set up his new ecumenical empire in 323 . . . And where he died, in 323 BC, of a hangover, clutching a copy of the Iliad.

    It had pretty much been the queen city of the mideast for 1,000 years at the time the prophet Isaiah said it would become abandoned, deserted, and be “full of howling creatures.” It would be like predicting such a thing about New York City today, times ten, before nuclear weapons and the ending of the Planet of the Apes made such a thing very plausible in our imaginations. In Isaiah’s time, such a prophesy was laughable, but by the time of the Emperor Severus in 199 AD, it had become completely deserted. Less than 200 years later, a Christian told Jerome that he passed through it and it was full of nothing but wild animals. To this day, it’s a wasteland. Nothing but ruins and debris.

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    Miscellany
    June 30, 2020

    Hungary

    How’s Budapest this time of year? I tell ya, the Magyars got it goin’ on. A COVID per-capita rate well below the European average, an ongoing resistance to Muslim immigration, and BLM movements under firm control.

    Funny, but the same three characteristics can also be found in Poland. Though it appears that BLM has made a bit of progress there, it doesn’t brook Muslim invasion and has a COVID rate even lower than Hungary’s.

    Poland and Hungary: Western civilization’s last best hopes. Maybe it’s Hungary’s way of apologizing for the existence of George Soros.

    This is the primary reason I wear a mask: “Murphy cited recent scenes from expanded outdoor bar and restaurants showing packed crowds not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing as a reason from pausing indoor dining indefinitely.” That’s in New Jersey.

    Now, I appreciate a little Thoreauian civil disobedience, but that’s not what’s happening with these lunkheads. They just don’t want to wear masks. And I don’t blame them, but I want to be able to duck into a bar now and then for a drink. They’re just ruining it for everybody.

    I guess I was never aware that there are a large number of “lost albums” out there: studio recordings that never got released and now no one can find. Here’s a list of 14 such albums, a few of which might get “found” and released soon. Excerpt:

    Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, The Dylan/Cash Sessions

    These two icons teamed up in February of 1969 (with Carl Perkins on lead guitar, to boot), spending two days together in the studio recording 15 songs. For a long time, only one of those — a cover of Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” that wound up on his Nashville Skyline album — was officially released, but the rest of the recordings from those sessions were finally unleashed last year as part of Dylan’s bootleg series on The Bootleg Series Vol. 15: Travelin’ Thru, 1967–1969.

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    Malcolm
    June 29, 2020

    Random Today I Learned

    Malcolm X spent his youth in Lansing, Michigan, and he attended Mason High School for a short while. Both Lansing and Mason are less than two hours from me. My high school lost to Mason in the first round of the high school playoffs about seven years ago. Malcolm X’s grandfather was white, making him a “griffe” or a “sambo,” according to Wikipedia. “Sambo” is considered a racial slur, so you didn’t see that Wikipedia reference from me.

    And why am I blogging about Malcolm X? Because I have started reading his autobiography, spurred by that splendid new TV series, The Godfather of Harlem (rated R . . . borderline X, in my opinion . . . you’ve been warned). I’ve also long been interested in black intellectual movements. I’ve read Frederick Douglas, some WEB Dubois and Booker T. Washington, and much of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Black theology’s intellectual ties with Catholic liberation theology interests me, though I’m inclined to believe both are ridiculous, and the idea that radical black movements spurred by Christian beliefs are now being replaced by atheistic black movements disturbs me.

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    Better Drinking Through Science
    June 26, 2020

    Historical Liquor

    This is perhaps the neatest drinking story of 2020: Distiller using molecular science to hack the chemical codes of aged spirits and recreate them.

    They’re bringing back bottles that, today, costs thousands of dollars, if you can even find them, and making them available at retail prices. So, for instance, they can create Old Medford Rum, which was “once America’s most beloved alcoholic beverage, purportedly sipped by Paul Revere on his epic ride in 1775.”

    The distillers refer to themselves as “serious booze nerds,” and they’re right. At times, I wanted to roll my eyes and tell these folks to get a life, that they’re taking their craft way too far, that they sound like the craft beer nerds who took one of the neatest revolutions in brewing history and turned it into a nauseating exercise in snobbery.

    But they’re the ones who now hold lucrative patents, and Silicon Valley money is flowing freely in their direction. We should all be so lacking in a life.

    So, check it out, especially if you’re interested in the art of distilling.

    One word of caution: In my (oh so) humble opinion, the story suffers from what Hemingway called “overwriting.” The prose would be splendid if it weren’t so, well, splendid. Excessive use of adjectives, references to visuals that can’t be visualized but sound neat (“a still whose copper pipes snaked through what appeared to be the Ark of the Covenant”), ornate descriptions that feature the writer more than the description. For some reason, it really jarred me, so if you’re sensitive to narcissistic writing (is there any other?), you’ve been warned. I would note, incidentally, that the writer is widely-published in some of the finest literary publications, plus he has written six books, so take my criticism with the salt grain.

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    Principle of Subsidiarity
    June 25, 2020

    What COVID Ought to Teach Us

    I’m back from vacation and catching up on COVID matters. I was greeted with news that COVID cases are spiking rapidly in my county, and one of my clients has it and is “not doing well.”

    The developments fueled my curiosity. I had, after all, sworn off all things COVID just a few weeks ago, just as I had done about, oh, 36 times previously.

    Based on what I can discern, the current developments show: (1) Social distancing does appear to work to prevent the spread, as evidenced by the spike in areas where lockdowns ended and young people have shown a greater propensity for ignoring social distancing; (2) The disease is scary but not nearly as deadly as we once thought. The death rate is about .3 percent . . . or three times the seasonal flu rate. (3) Among youth, the fatality rate is less than the overall fatality rate of the seasonal flu and for folks my age, the fatality rate is about double. The CDC estimates that the CFR for COVID-19 falls to 0.05 percent among people younger than 50 and rises to 1.3 percent among people 65 and older. For people in the middle (ages 50–64), the estimated CFR is 0.2 percent. (4) Lockdowns are not effective, at least when compared simply to living in rural areas where there’s naturally more distance between people. The least restrictive states have the lowest infection rates, but those least restrictive states also tend to be the least densely-populated.

    If you put all that into a blender what do you get?

    The heck if I know, but neither does anyone else. It’s pretty apparent that a one-size-fits-all approach to COVID that states implemented in hysteria last March are ill-advised. We need micro-choices. Each region of each state deciding what it needs. Or each county. Or each town . . . or each family.

    COVID might, with some decent publicity, put the principle of subsidiarity back on people’s radar screen as the most sane political principle of all time.

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    Blog Returns Tomorrow
    June 24, 2020

    I just returned from a short vacation. Blogging resumes tomorrow, with a solid BYCU in the wings for Friday.

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    Monday Moanin’
    June 22, 2020

    Miscellany

    I’m not sure it’s terribly compelling, but these days, I eagerly gulp down every ounce of sanity I find: “Muhammad Ali’s only biological son says that his father would be against Black Lives Matter, calling the movement ‘racist’ and the protesters ‘devils.’ . . . Of the BLM movement, Ali Jr., a Muslim like his father, said: “I think it’s racist.”

    Ali spent his retirement about an hour from my house. His local high school played in our athletic conference. I guess you’d occasionally see him in the stands. I never did, but one of my best friends talked to him during an event.

    To wear a mask or not wear a mask? I’m agnostic on the issue. Whenever possible, I let the people around me decide. The only time I resent wearing it is while I’m at Mass and already assiduously distanced more than six feet from everyone, and when I’m merely walking around outside. Otherwise, I keep it on me and don it when asked or when clearly appropriate. It’s a minor inconvenience, and if it lets our society avoid Hitlerian lockdowns, I’m all for it.

    Nassim Taleb appears to agree with me, but on five mathematical, statistical, and logical grounds. “[T]he naive approach is to say if masks reduce the transmission probability to ¼, one would think it would then drop from R0= 5 to R0=1 ¼. Yuuge, but there is better. For one should count both sides. Under our simplification, with p=1/4 we get R0’= p² R0 . The drop in R becomes 93.75%! You divide R by 16! Even with masks working at 50% we get a 75% drop in R0.”

    Entertaining trip down memory lane: Defunct restaurant chains. (Caution! It’s the dreaded slideshow presentation . . . ugh!). Number 12 was my favorite restaurant while growing up: Burger Chef. The description reflected my recollection: “At one time, Burger Chef had over 1,000 locations and rivaled McDonalds. The chain also introduced several fast-food staples to the industry, including kids’ meals with toys. However, they were doomed by bad business practices, and Burger Chef was sold to Hardee’s in 1981.”

    One thing I’ve never been able to figure out: Does Hardees’ hamburgers taste anything like Burger Chef’s? I absolutely loathe Hardee’s. Every time I’ve gotten one of their burgers, I’ve sworn that the meat must’ve gone bad.

    It reminds me of an old joke: Q: Why do White Castle hamburgers have five holes in them? A: It takes five bullets to kill a rat.

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    June 20, 2020

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    Drinking Matters
    June 19, 2020

    Holiday Drinking!

    Juneteenth! The date in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation was formally announced in Texas.

    A day to drink!

    If you don’t drink a beer of color tonight, you’re a racist.

    If you want to try such a beer, and be politically correct 2X, try Modelo Negra. My Mexican friends swear by it.

    Of course, they also swear by Justice Roberts.

    Then again, my gay friends would also swear by Justice Roberts, if I had any gay friends.

    While drinking a few vodkas tonight, I’ll have to ponder: Does my dearth of gay friends make me a homophobe? Maybe it does. Just as my wealth of Mexican friends, clients, and acquaintances makes me non-racist.

    I think I felt TDE readers’ uncomfortable squirm all the way here in Michigan. You see, “racism” is no longer about one-on-one contact, caring, and affection. It’s about ideas. How you think is more important than how you act. You could be Mother Teresa, but if you don’t think correctly, you’re a racist against Calcuttans.

    It’s been that way from the dawn of ideology. Rousseau preached about the goodness of man, then left his wife and five children in wretched poverty. Dickens parodied the type in Mrs. Jellby, as did Dostoyevsky in The Demons with the character Alexei Kirilov (see quote in postscript). Socialism is freakin’ filled with preachers who were hellbent on not doing good. Perhaps most noticeably, Lenin preached the earthly paradise, then started the Gulag.

    Ah, it’s not a good state of affairs, that’s for sure. The ideologues are winning, big-time. Which is all the more reason to drink. We have only a short time in this vale of tears. Enjoy it before the valley gets too deep and the tears turn into a torrent, as has happened every time ideologues have seized control.

    _______________________________________

    Mr. Kirilov simply collects observations; he does not touch upon the essence of the matter or, as we might say, the moral aspect of it. Indeed, he denies there is any such thing as morality and he advocates the latest principle—total destruction in the name of the ultimate good. Mr. Kirilov has already demanded that more than one hundred heads roll so that reason may be introduced in Europe, and that considerably exceeds the figure proposed at the last peace conference. In that sense, Alexei Kirilov is ahead of everyone.

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    Miscellany
    June 17, 2020

    Rambling

    Here’s your big chance to be first: I’ve launched a site at Patreon. Yeah, I’m not sure how it works either. I literally launched it fifteen minutes ago and am still learning. But hey, I’ve never monetized TDE in over 15 years of blogging, so I figured I’d give it a try.

    The “zero patrons” reference might be embarrassing after a few months.

    But I could use more humility.

    It will, incidentally, simulcast TDE posts, in case you’re wondering what the content will be.

    The websites are lit up COVID resurgence links. I’ve clicked on a few. One thing is noticeably missing: a resurgence in deaths. COVID cases might be increasing, but I see no evidence that the thing is deadly. Or ever has been, for the matter, unless you have a risk condition. I’m staying the course: conservative social distancing (which is my ilk anyway), keeping focus on positive things like booze.

    The best Tweet of the morning comes from Iowa Hawk:

    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Twitter, starving hysterical naked,
    dragging themselves through the mentions at dawn looking for an angry fix,
    blue checked hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night

    (Parody of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, btw.)

    By coincidence, I ran across a copy of Leif Carter’s classic Reason in Law yesterday. It was in a pile of things to be thrown away. I decided to read the section devoted to statutory interpretation and “plain meaning.” He shredded the concept, pointing out that nobody knows what “plain meaning” means. I felt fairly vindicated (see yesterday’s post). Individual words in sentences must be given their plain meaning when possible, but to use the “plain meaning” to impute an intent plainly not intended, it’s an outrage. I’m still shaking my head at Gorsuch’s disingenuity.

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    Enter Amazon here, buy something, and get me a kickback.


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    St. Blog’s Parish Directory
    St. James Journal
    St. Peter Canisius Apostolate
    Standing on My Head
    Stella Maris
    Stony Creek Digest
    Streams of Mercy
    Stupid Scholar
    Suicide of the West
    Summa Minutiae
    Taki
    The American Conservative
    The Blue Boar
    The Cafeteria is Closed
    The Crescat
    The Curt Jester
    The Dawn Patrol
    The Drunken Dollar
    The Impractical Christian
    The Inn at the End of the World
    The Michiana Blawg
    The Muniment Room
    The Radical Academy
    The Reticulator
    The Saint Wannabe
    The Scratching Post
    The Snoring Scholar
    The Summa Mamas
    The Waffling Anglican
    The Western Confucian
    Things and Stuff
    Thursday Night Gumbo
    Uncovering Orthodoxy
    Victor Lams
    Video Meliora
    Vita Mea
    Vox Nova
    What's Wrong with the World
    With Both Hands
    Within the Garden
    Without Having Seen
    World Wide Words

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