The Traditional DE Blog (est. 2004)

September 24, 2021

BYCU: I Spent Wednesday Evening with a Bottle of Gin and a Pile of Old Magazines, Wasting Time on a Stupid Task.


September 23, 2021

The Kiplinger Letter

I think we can agree on one thing: all information is suspect. No source can be trusted.

So where does one turn?

I have a ton of opinions about that, some of them even consistent with one another, but I think the folks at Kiplinger might be an answer. I’ve been reading their short letters for decades. If they bring a bias, it escapes me. I really think they just try to report things as honestly as they can, with a sure eye on the pulse in Washington (which is increasingly the only pulse that matters anymore as it crushes and suffocates the smaller semi-public and public spaces).

I’m going to start mentioning random bites here occasionally. It won’t be a regular thing, but when you see the headline “Kiplinger,” you know I’m simply lifting something from one of their newsletters. So, you might see:

Kiplinger

Since 1983, the share of U.S. workers in unions has fallen from 20% to 11%.

Or

Kiplinger

Texas’s crackdown on social media will likely be thwarted by the courts, with lawsuits funded by social media companies.

Or

Kiplinger

Football gambling is poised to soar this year. 45 million Americans plan to place legal or illegal bets on … Read the rest

I Spent Wednesday Evening with a Bottle of Gin and a Pile of Old Magazines, Wasting Time on a Stupid Task

It was delightful

Wednesday.

I used to think “hump day” referred to getting over the middle of the week, but as I get older, I realize it’s a past-tense thing, referring to what the workweek does to you after just three days of it.

I find myself in an odd position this evening: alone. The wife and kids are out with friends. The weather is delightfully cold and rainy, the kind of depressing rain that kills every ambition, especially those pertaining to outdoor activities. It’s the kind of rain that’s good for nothing but sleeping, meditating, reading, and drinking gin while poring over past issues of Modern Drunkard Magazine.

This is what I’m doing, while pounding out this weekly drinking column.

I have a 20-pack in front of me, back issues of MDM, ranging from December 2002 to issue number 63.

I drain my first G&T and resolve to get to the bottom of something: when did MDM stop giving calendar dates to their issues? The latest date in my 20-pack is “June 2006” and it’s No. 9 of Vol. 5. MDM was publishing six times a year back then, so that means June 2006 = #39 (Einstein-level math here). The earliest number in my 20-pack is #54. If MDM kept on the 6-per-year pace, that means the dates were eliminated between August 2006 (with #40) and December 2009 (with #54), but that’s … Read the rest

Re-Proving Catholicism One Slow Step at a Time

A new book hits a theme that has laced TDE for the past 17 years: postmodern society is discovering through science and statistics that the Catholic Church is right.

The book is How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion and my opening sentence above greatly exaggerates.

But the book, according to this article at Wired by the author, is a weigh station on what I think will be the ultimate conclusion: Catholicism works because Catholicism is true. If scientific conclusions are true and Catholicism is true, they must eventually meet up and can’t oppose one another (this was the debate Aquinas won against Siger de Brabant).

This book appears to show the process of uniting science to Catholicism is well underway, albeit at a young age of development. It looks at the scientific validation of all types of religious practices, so I’d say we’re in the “Ecumenic Stage” of the Catholic-Science courtship, roughly analogous to the kindergarten stage of human development.

Based on the article, the author focuses on all the ways religious practices help our health. I doubt he takes the next step: they help us because they correspond to truth. If they didn’t correspond to truth, they wouldn’t help us.

Regularly taking part in religious practices lessens anxiety and depression, increases physical health, and even reduces the risk of early death. These benefits don’t come simply from general social

Read the rest

Collectors, Hoarders, and the Childless

A beer coaster from my collection

I don’t collect things anymore. I don’t know when I stopped, but in my youth, I would start more collections than a wino starts bottles.

Baseball cards, beer cans, football pennants, foreign currency, coins, postcards, seashells, marbles, even rocks (those polished stones featured in souvenir shops).

Even as an adult, I started collections: sporting event tickets, hockey cards, paraphernalia from every professional sports venue in Michigan that I personally visited, souvenir beer mugs, bookmarks, drink coasters that feature famous beers, the left pinky toe from every prostitute I banged (I spent a ton on formaldehyde).

But at some point, it stopped.

I think it stopped when my final collection—children—started to grow, but I don’t know when exactly, and it was never a conscious decision. I just stopped. 

Or maybe I morphed . . . transitioned from collecting to hoarding. I started buying lots of things but not different kinds of the same thing. I accumulated volumes, but not variety within the volumes. I bought things I could use, not things to look at it.

Beer cans out; a jar of dimes in. Postcards out; books in. Rocks gone; gardening implements in.

I suppose the two actions, collecting and hoarding, aren’t terribly different. Both cost a lot of money. Both provide a scant monetary return. Both will get tossed into the dumpster when I die. Both impart a degree of … Read the rest

This Little Publication is Still in Business

The magazine is an absolute work of art.

It’s absurd, funny, noir, colorful . . .  But it’s first and foremost a work of art. It’s the kind of thing I wish I could turn this blog into: a ridiculous little product that is done so well, people would have to read it.

Or not. Being only concerned with art, I wouldn’t care. I’d just be intent on creating the best work possible. It’s kind of how I approach my garden. It’s a stupid little thing, but I want it to be a work of art, in grandiose obedience to Chesterton’s observation that the gardener who plants red potatoes and blue potatoes in separate rows creates art.

Incidentally, I’m talking about Modern Drunkard Magazine.

I’ve long maintained that its editor and main writer, Frank Kelly Rich, is one of the most talented and funniest writers alive. The dude slays me. He’s simply ridiculous and brilliant at the same time.

He has also put a lot of time into drinking facts. Man. He and his other writers come well-researched, lacing every article with all sorts of interesting drinking lore. I’m guessing a lot of it is even true.


This was all prompted by my pleasant surprise last Saturday: the recent issue of MDM arrived. Marie bought me a year/six-issue subscription about three years ago. I never got my six issues. I just figured the mailroom … Read the rest

Doomers May Have One Point: Food Production

Every inch of me resists the doom-and-gloomers.

I think it’s because I get the sense that this syllogism drives them: doomers are serious. Serious people should rule. Therefore, doomers should rule.

At the very least, doomers think they should tell other people what to do. Doomers, after all, are weighty people, highly thoughtful and considered in things that matter, so they’re in a position to tell the rest of us what to do. Like, “Wear a mask!” while you’re walking outside and the UV light is killing the aerosol COVID (though not the droplets, I suppose).

“The urge to save humanity,” noted H.L. Mencken, “is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

But I walk with the doomers in one area: farming and agriculture.

The doomers say modern farming techniques kill the soil, lead to obesity, give us diabetes and cancer, and render us poor stewards of creation. Though they haven’t yet made the connection that modern farming techniques give us poor food, which leads to poor health, which then makes us more susceptible to COVID (that would hurt the vaccine narrative), I tend to agree with them.

The difference between them and me?

I take my beliefs into my garden and wage my war there. Albert Jay Nock counseled his readers to improve society by improving just one person. Likewise, I’m trying to improve food by improving one plot of … Read the rest

The Weekly Eccentric: Why Do Dudes in Vegas Look Like That?

Exploring the Vegas Bod

When you think “Vegas body,” you probably think “sultry,” “skanky,” “sensual,” or “slinky”: what the showgirl looks like off-hours, like when a high school friend and I went to the Windsor Ballet 35 years ago and I swore that that woman walking in the mall the next day was one of the dancers.

But when I hear “Vegas body,” I don’t think “sultry” or any of the other sexy words.

Heck, I don’t even think of women.

I think of dudes. The same dude I see all over the place when I’m in Vegas: chest, shoulders, and arms that are better developed than usual, coupled with a gut bigger than usual. All accentuated by a shirt that’s at least one size too small.

I told my wife last April while we were there, “It’s really remarkable. Every guy, from behind, looks like he’s in good shape, then you see him from the front (or, heaven forbid, the side) and you’re like, ‘Geesh, dude, maybe spend less time on bicep curls and more on ab crunches.”


But why? Why all these middle-aged guys with big deltoids and bigger guts, both of which they seem pleased to accent with a tight shirt?

I think it may be related to the different definitions of “sin.”

The Russian mystic Theophan the Recluse said sin could refer to (i) the guilty deed, (ii) a passion, or … Read the rest

House of Elrond: “Lindir is Out”

“We have no room in our house for such invidious statements”

The Eriador Eccentric

Fourth Age 221

RIVENDELL—A random exchange with the legendary Bilbo Baggins has cost Lindir his position in the House of Elrond.

At issue is a half-joking exchange between the hobbit and the elf on October 24, 3018 during a party.

“Approximately 230 years ago,” said a spokeself for the House of Elrond, “Lindir and other elves who had been drinking criticized a poem that Bilbo had composed with the help of Lord Aragorn. In the ensuing argument, Lindir told Bilbo that all mortals look the same.”

Others say that the statement was actually much worse.

“What he said exactly,” said one elf who was there that evening, “is that hobbits and men all look alike to elves, that they’re all like sheep, and that elves have more important things to consider.”

Regardless of the actual content, the statement has resulted in Lindir’s ouster.

“We have no room in our house for such invidious statements,” said a Rivendell spokeself.

Lindir declined comment, saying only, “Things haven’t been the same since Elrond departed from the Grey Havens.”

Photo by Nick Fewings on UnsplashRead the rest

How Does the Government Curb Free Speech without Being the Government That Decides What Gets Curbed?

“|W]e’ve reached the blue-state version of the End of History, where all important truths are agreed upon, and there’s no longer need to indulge empty gestures to pluralism like the ‘marketplace of ideas.’”

NPR is now pushing for free speech restrictions. Matt Taibbi breaks it down: straw men arguments, name-calling, disingenuous analysis.

“The guests for NPR’s just-released On The Media episode about the dangers of free speech included Andrew Marantz, author of an article called, “Free Speech is Killing Us”; P.E. Moskowitz, author of “The Case Against Free Speech”; Susan Benesch, director of the “Dangerous Speech Project”; and Berkeley professor John Powell, whose contribution was to rip John Stuart Mill’s defense of free speech in On Liberty as “wrong.”

“That’s about right for NPR, which for years now has regularly congratulated itself for being a beacon of diversity while expunging every conceivable alternative point of view.

“The essence of arguments made by all of NPR’s guests is that the modern conception of speech rights is based upon John Stuart Mill’s outdated conception of harm, which they summarized as saying, “My freedom to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose.”

“Because, they say, we now know that people can be harmed by something other than physical violence, Mill (whose thoughts NPR overlaid with harpsichord music, so we could be reminded how antiquated they are) was wrong, and we have to recalibrate our understanding of … Read the rest