I made my annual trip to Trader Joe’s last weekend to buy “unique” products for client baskets and office presents. I saw for the first time wine in a can: Simpler Wines. I haven’t tried any yet, but the packaging made me thirsty.
Wine in cans still represents only a few percentage points of the market, but sales have exploded in the past few years, from about $2 million in sales in 2012 to nearly $15 million in 2016, according to Business Insider magazine. Last summer, Trader Joe’s offered an inexpensive canned bubbly called Simpler Wines, which sold out as fast as they could restock the shelves.
‘T&Ts are G&Ts for the cool kids,’ said Ben Alcock of Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Filthy Thirteen. ‘It’s very in fashion at the moment, even if it doesn’t have the pull of gin just yet. Now and again we get groups ordering them, and then they seem to fly out, but it seems to need an introduction. I think the Fever-Tree and Patrón pairing is going to do wonders for tequila in general, opening it up to new drinkers who may have been a little intimidated by tequila before – and having a shiny new tonic for people to try is awesome.’
The business conference I attended two weeks ago said the entire Internet is going video: no one reads any more or, if they do, they won’t be shortly. In order to get your content noticed, it must be on video. So, with dread, I bought video-editing software last Sunday and started working on cobbling together something, video-wise, for The Weekly Eudemon. There’s a learning curve, to be sure. My first effort is pasted below or you can click this link. It’s awful, but if you really like something, anything, visual when you listen to a presentation, there’s stuff there. I fully expect to get better at this as time goes on. We’ll see.
I’m really digging my Spotify subscription. Yesterday, I found an entire playlist devoted to Bossa Nova Christmas music. It’s some of the mellowest holiday music you’ll find without being borderline morbid. It relaxes me as fast as a stiff vodka tonic.
Thaddeus Russell makes an interesting argument in this podcast. He argues that Google, Facebook, and Twitter have become, through subsidies funded by taxpayers, huge propaganda arms of the federal government and, therefore, shouldn’t be exempt from First Amendment restrictions. I don’t know if he’s right, but I suspect he’s onto something. The legal test, btw, is a thing called “state actor.” Is the organization or person in question, in effect, a “state actor.”
Great Christmas present idea: Anno Domini 2019: The St. James Calendar of the Christian Year. Marie normally gets me one for Christmas. I consult it at least fifty times during the year. $15.95 is a reasonable price for this unique product. Plus, you’ll be supporting a fine organization . . . and the first one to publish me as a young, aspiring writer back in 1999.
For my homosexual readers and me: Fifteen of the Best Vegan Restaurants in America. The Wynn in Las Vegas, incidentally, offers vegan options in all its restaurants (all of which are superb and receive four-star ratings). Steve Wynn “converted” to veganism awhile back, so I suspect that has something to do with it.
I was stunned/shocked to hear Bishop Morlino died. I only spent one evening with him, but I considered him a friend . . . and a fellow traveler. Needless to say, the Church lost a stalwart who was willing to call things like they are. It’s a terrible blow.
From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds, the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent. In other words, in the space of a generation, sex has gone from something most high-school students have experienced to something most haven’t. (And no, they aren’t having oral sex instead—that rate hasn’t changed much.)
Meanwhile, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate has plummeted to a third of its modern high.
Of course, there are plenty of explanations, including some disturbing ones:
From 1992 to 2014, the share of American men who reported masturbating in a given week doubled, to 54 percent, and the share of women more than tripled, to 26 percent. Easy access to porn is part of the story, of course; in 2014, 43 percent of men said they’d watched porn in the past week.
It might just be part of the dumbing down of western culture.
Black Friday and the Gorillas: Are Black Friday shoppers near descendants of the gorillas? Albert Jay Nock would seem to think so. A sense of superiority is an unsettling trait of many libertarians.
Puritanizing Marijuana: The marijuana industry is booming, but there is a conscious effort to imbue it with the Puritan work ethic and otherwise mainstream it. Thaddeus Russell wouldn’t approve.
Lightning Segments: Eight Mile, a list of Great Men, other snippets.
Poustinia: My experience with the solitary Russian retreat.
Fools for Christ: A very unusual religious calling, but a compelling one in its own way.
Books Mentioned or Related to this Episode
Thaddeus Russell, A Renegade History of the United States
Robert M. Crunden, The Superfluous Men: Conservative Critics of American Culture, 1900-1945
Catherine Doherty, Poustinia
James Billington, Icon and Axe: An Interpretative History of Russian Culture
On top of my travel schedule crippling my podcast efforts, I started trying to learn video-editing. One of the software companies had a half-off Black Friday special that ended yesterday, so I bought the software and started working on it. Whew. It’s a lot of work. I’ll post my nascent effort later this week after it’s finished.
Please support The Daily Eudemon and its podcast by accessing Amazon through the various links you’ll find here or at eudemonpodcast.com. The commissions from Amazon during the holidays pay my independent website hosting costs, which allows me to justify this little hobby to Marie.
The Amazon link in the upper-righthand corner doesn’t appear to be working on all browsers, so I’ll try to remember to provide an obvious Amazon link in every post for the rest of the holiday season. Thanks.
I love the holidays, and I like getting our Christmas tree up so early . . . a week before Advent. I know, I know: “Scheske, you lousy hypocrite. You advise others to observe the liturgical seasons more closely, and then you not only put your tree up way before Christmas Eve, you now are putting it up before Advent even begins!” Guilty as charged, but I had no choice. All seven kids are home this weekend. It’s the only chance we’ll have to do our Christmas Tree Decorating Party. I guess we could have the party, then take the tree down for a few weeks, but that hardly makes sense, so I’ll just have to tough it out and enjoy the decorated tree for an extra week this year.
Welcome to Black Friday, an infamous day that I have long railed against but one that grows on me for three reasons:
1. The cynical side of me recalls Albert Jay Nock’s “revelation” that he shouldn’t be disgusted by the bum on the street any more than he should be disgusted by a dog digging through garbage: neither can help it; it’s just their nature. Nock’s “revelation,” of course, is scarcely Christian . . . charitable, in an odd way, but I believe theologically untenable from a Christian perspective.
What kinship is there between St. Francis and John Calvin; the Earl of Strafford and Thomas Crumwell; Robert E. Lee and Trotsky; Edison and Capone? None except their human form. They of the great list behave like our ideal of the human being; they of the ignominious sub-stratum do not—because they are not. In other words, the just line of demarcation should be drawn, not between Neolithic Man and the anthropoid ape, but between the glorified and triumphant human being and the Neolithic mass which was, is now and ever shall be.
Cram’s position says we shouldn’t be shocked when people don’t behave like human beings because they are not human beings. I think he was trying to be overly paradoxical at the expense of accuracy, but he was basically saying, “If you look at great men like Marcus Aurelius and St. Francis as the exemplars of what is expected of men, you are holding men to an impossible standard, because most men are not great men. They are more like neolithic man.”
To pithisize the position: Plato is a human being. The mass of men are nothing like Plato. Therefore, the mass of men are not human beings.
That, as far as it goes, seems fine to me. Again, I think Cram was emphasizing the paradox at the expense of theological rigorousness, but his emphasize is on the idea that a handful of great men rise above the mob mass and we can’t expect the mob mass to behave the same. If anything, it’s almost like Cram says the great men aren’t really human (demigods?), and the rest of mankind are the real humans.
But Nock seems to push the argument a bit further.
Nock’s position almost seems to say men are born with one of two souls: some with noble souls, some with base souls. But different souls (or “natures”), nonetheless. From Nock’s journals: That between the great man and the mass of men, “there was a difference greater than that which separates, shall we say, the obscene mob of the November Revolution in Russia and the anthropoid apes. They fall into two absolutely different categories.” Robert Crunden, The Mind & Art of Albert Jay Nock, 121.
Nock concluded that we must not judge the people with base souls/natures because they can’t help it. Again, charitable in a way, but dangerously close, it seems, to asserting God creates two different kinds of people. I could be wrong, but when I was hip-deep into Nock’s works, that was one of a handful of areas that troubled me.
So anyway, from that perspective, I shouldn’t be surprised at the Black Friday madness. The mass of people simply can’t help it.
2. My increasing respect for Buddhist mindfulness, which, I think, teaches that the essence of mindfulness is non-judging. Judging agitates, takes energy, distracts from better things. Just let it go. What difference does it make to my pursuits, studies, and efforts if people tear themselves apart on Black Friday? For me to think about them makes me a bigger fool than them.
3. And finally: They’re just having fun. It’s not fun I appreciate, but there are all sorts of “fun” things I don’t appreciate: golf, bird watching, fishing, hunting. It doesn’t matter. Few people like blogging, reading Albert Jay Nock’s journals, and gardening. Different strokes. Are my strokes more noble? Well, I’m not sure. Let me ask Ralph Adams Cram and Albert Jay Nock . . .
“Thanksgiving Day originated in New England when the Puritans realized they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.” Mark Twain
“Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.” Samuel Johnson
“Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks.” Shakespeare, Hamlet
“Gratitude is characteristic only of the humble. The egotistic are so impressed by their own importance that they take everything given them as if it were their due. They have no room in their hearts for recollection of the undeserved favors they received.” Fulton Sheen
“Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton
“Giving thank is not weakness but strength, for it involves self-repression.” Fulton Sheen
“How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child’s personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.” Sir John Templeton
“Gratitude is a species of justice.” Samuel Johnson
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart
“When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.” St. Jerome
Brews You Can Use: Special Black Wednesday Edition
Black Wednesday arriveth. The biggest bar night of the year. The Top 10 Reasons Black Wednesday is The Drinking Night:
10. College kids return home.
9. Elementary school kids have only a half day.
8. Four days to recover from the hangover.
7. Four days to recover from a hangover sounds great at 10:30.
6. Lots of Detroit Lion fans drowning their shame.
5. Lots of non-Lions fans celebrating that they’re not Lions fans.
4. Thanksgiving Dinners feature family hodgepodges that are dreaded, which cause drinkers to figure, “This is the best part of the four-day weekend. I might as well make it good.”
3. People are just really, really, really thankful.
2. Old friends + good family = lots of booze.
1. Momentum: Black Wednesday has become a tradition, with an expectation of ample lubrication. The momentum builds on itself.
The names for Thanksgiving Eve keep accumulating. I’ve now seen it referred to as “The Biggest Bar Night of the Year,” “Black Wednesday,” “Blackout Wednesday,” “Drinksgiving,” “Wacky Wednesday,” and “Awkward Wednesday.” I’m not sure I understand that last name, but there you have it . . . according to Wikipedia, which now sports a Black Wednesday entry. It’s a short and kind of interesting entry, albeit apparently written by someone who hasn’t exactly mastered English prose.
Why does social media make so many people feel bad? The study didn’t analyze this, but Hunt offers two explanations. The first is “downward social comparison.” You read your friends’ timelines. They’re deliberately putting on a show to make their lives look wonderful. The result: “You’re more likely to think your life sucks in comparison,” says Hunt. The second reason: FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out.
Yup. The only thing more dishonest than Facebook is Snapchat. Maybe Instagram. Maybe it’s a three-way tie, but the bottom line is, people posting their good times on FB are almost always lying . . . or exaggerating. I remember seeing a post about a gathering at the drinking club, and I was feeling a bit bummed out that I didn’t attend. When I talked with one of the attendees (who was pictured smiling), he said, “Oh man, it was lame. Terrible.” But in the picture, everyone was smiling and looked like they were having a great time.
Lies, damned lies, and statistics Facebook.
So take comfort, ye FB afflicted: Everyone else’s lives suck, too!
Shew. Long week . . . and now jet lag. They say it takes one day for every time zone difference to recover. Las Vegas is three hours behind us, so it sounds like I won’t recover until Tuesday. I’ll be recovered just in time for Black Wednesday. Out of the drink and into the well.
The new podcast is up. I had to rip off 25 minutes of monologue on a heavy jet lag yesterday, but I think it came out fairly well. It’s all about Las Vegas and the marijuana industry:
I spent the week in Las Vegas, attending the annual Marijuana Business Conference (“MJ Biz Con”). Consequently, I didn’t have any time to put together a normal podcast, but I accumulated a lot of interesting discussion subject matter. This episode breaks down, from a Catholic perspective, Vegas and the blooming marijuana industry.
If you use an iPhone, please subscribe to the podcast (making sure to use the new feed . . . you’ll see the logo with wording on it . . . see below), leave a rating, and a review. I’d really appreciate it.
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