“Morley, the son of distinguished Quaker stock (though he adopted his mother’s Episcopalianism), had won a Pulitzer Prize for his Washington Post editorials. He stepped down after seven years (1933–40) as the Post’s editor because he understood what the forewinds of war portended: ‘newspaper writing in wartime can come close to intellectual prostitution.'”
Whew. Another whirlwind weekend. Every day is a flat-out sprint, with an occasional breather for Mass or gin. I’m grateful for those two breathers, but awfully tired of sprinting.
The site now has a professionally-installed sprinkler system. It’s just a beginner’s model, but it’s set to water for 30 minutes, three times a day. Just in time for this week’s heat wave.
My second son, Jack, turned 21 this weekend and lived to talk about it. He congregated in Ann Arbor with my oldest son, two cousins, and a handful of friends. Ann Arbor has really started leaning toward neo-Prohibitionism: two bars (both rather staid and not remotely busy) wouldn’t let his under-21 friends in, and one store wouldn’t sell his 19-year-old friend a cigar. Criminy.
Of course, school isn’t out in Michigan public schools yet. I believe the public schools are continuing their push for year-round schooling by gradually shrinking the summer vacation schedule.
The reason? The breakdown of the urban family has resulted in home conditions that cause kids’ learning to atrophy greatly during the summer. So all other areas of the state must cripple their summer to help them. Fortunately, we have a large agricultural sector that resists the change, for economic reasons.
I resist the change, for kid reasons: summer is great if you’re a kid. Don’t ruin it because it doesn’t fit your ideological perspective (to wit, that the government should be responsible for raising your kids).
I’ve always taught my kids: Summer is the time of year when you can make great strides. You have oodles of free time. Pick a discipline to pursue, pick a sport, pick something/anything. I can’t say my advice has been adhered to, but it has helped a little bit here and there.
My youngest son told me earlier this week that beer commercials aren’t allowed to show people drinking. I thought about it and thought, “Heck, he might be right. I don’t ever recall seeing someone take a wig on an advertisement. Fricking neo-prohibitionist Fascists.”
But it’s apparently not that simple. According to this article, it’s more of a self-regulatory thing between the beer companies and the networks. So, I can put the libertarian hair on the back of my neck down.
Or can I? The private entities self-regulate themselves because they fear that they could trigger regulation if they don’t: “the brewers have no desire to stir things up and risk stirring a cry for a new law.”
So, they’re afraid of showing a man taking a drink of beer, but they don’t hesitate to show scantily-clad women prancing around on a beach. The perverseness never ceases to astound me. We encourage teenagers to have sex, but tell them they can’t have a beer until they’re 21. It’s so upside-down, I can only shake my head.
Whew. I’ve been busting it: Marie is in NYC for the week with Michael’s senior leadership class, leaving me with a ton of work at the office, kid duties at home, and (of course) getting the urban produce operation running. Jack stepped up and helped me a lot this week, allowing me to get 13 beds formed (about 3′ x 60′ feet each), plus two started. Three are planted with greens, two are planted with 21 tomato “volunteer” transplants. I also had nine bales of straw delivered today and started lining the beds with it. It’s actually beginning to look nice.
Anyway, I’m too whipped to blog (I’m typing this while enjoying an adult beverage and game 3 of the NBA Championship). I am, therefore, merely going to share this email to my eldest son about tithing. If history is any indication, many of you are going to hate me for this, but I guess I’m too tired to care:
Christians argue about this, but I feel strongly that you tithe only on your taxable income.
On the flipside, when you start having taxable income when you retire and pull on the 401k, you will have to tithe on that. Likewise, if you get a tax refund next year, you tithe on that, too.
That’s how I organize my tithing and I believe it is the most logical.
I remember discussing this once with a good Catholic who said he could find no justification for tithing on only net/taxable income. I said, “Well, your employer provides you with great health insurance and a retirement plan. Are you tithing on the value of those?” He shrugged and shook his head and said, “I don’t get all technical about it.”
I just chuckled, “Damn right you don’t, except when it works in your favor” (I didn’t say that, but I did chuckle).
Theologically, you give to God your first fruits because it’s by His grace that you can earn. But the exact same applies to the taxation scheme you labor under: It’s by His grace (or lack thereof) that you pay the amount of taxes you do.
There’s also the reductio ad absurdum argument: If you have a 91% marginal rate, you literally couldn’t tithe on your gross.
Throughout this hectic spring, I have been squirrelling away occasional minutes to type notes for my “History of the Catholic Church in 30 Minutes” presentation this September. One of my goals that has developed is to give my listeners a sense of historical perspective. I always begged my kids to develop a basic historic framework in world history (Moses, then Christ, then Mohammed; Greeks, then Romans, then Dark Ages) and U.S. history (1776, Civil War, New Deal, Vietnam). Without it, you’re an idiot when it comes to anything that has a history.
It dawned on me as I work on this lecture that I have always used historical reference points: people and events that I can place firmly on a timeline. Everything else then flows around them.
For some reason, for instance, I’ve know most of my adult life that Thomas Aquinas lived from 1225-1274. This fact immediately helps me get my bearings when I hear something about the Middle Ages: Black Death, after STA. Dominic, obviously before STA . . . and with Dominic, Francis. And with these mendicants, the end of the Dark Ages . . . it was the rising wealth of the Europe that led to these poverty-driven responses.
I think anyone who knows anything about history does something like this already, but regardless, if you’re trying to cultivate a sense of history, or if you’re working with your kids on it, you might want to make this approach explicit.
Here’s my list that I made explicit last week:
587 BC: Babylonian Exile
399 BC: Death of Socrates
33: Death of Jesus Christ
476: “Fall” of Rome
621: Rise of Islam
800: Coronation of Charlemagne
1225-1274: Thomas Aquinas
1453: Fall of Constantinople
Michael graduated and had his last track meet on Saturday. Meg had her last soccer game last week. Max (partner in Maximum Greens, LLC) gets out of school this week and can take over more responsibilities. I think the carnage of everyday living is coming to a close. I still have a rough June ahead of me at the office, but the craziness should subside everywhere else.
One thing that has become painfully apparent in these past two months of busy-ness: it makes blogging hard: reading stimulates thought, thought stimulates the muse, the muse makes blogging easy. With no time to sit back and read, it’s like my thoughts deaden. Worse than that, nothing seems to interest me, except the things that occupy my attention, almost like my entire thought world is turned inward, blocking out stimulus. I’m not whining about it and I’m not too concerned. I’m confident it will come back easily enough (the few moments that opened up to me Saturday evening after spending the entire day at Michael’s state track meet gave me reading time . . . and the thoughts that come with it). It’s just an interesting observation. Interesting to me, anyway. I’m not sure if y’all have experienced a similar thing.
Saw yesterday: “Self-deprecating humor is great, until others join in.”
Well, I haven’t ran into this problem yet, thankfully: “It is the simplest, most basic aspect of life: you need food, so you grow some vegetables. If you have extra you sell them on a street corner to your neighbors, and if you live in California you get arrested for it. Licensing is when the government takes a right from you, and sells it back. This California man failed to purchase his rights back from the state.” Link.
Steyn on the London Bridge attack. His most prescient observation: “The cynical strategy of British and Continental leaders is to get their citizens used to this.” Exactly. They won’t do the only thing that can stop it: halt immigration and aggressively start deporting anyone who poses a risk. So they will just get their citizens used to it, like you get used to traffic jams, or like we’d get used to the Black Plague returning, or like people get used to anything unpleasant if it can’t be avoided.
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