Lucky VII. We hope, anyway, thinking we could break that 1,000,000 reader barrier with this issue. It'd be a coup, seeing as readership is less than 500 at this point. Anyway, it's not our place to disprove numerology, only to laugh at it. If we hit the million reader goal with this issue, we'll merely pause to celebrate and wonder what sort of strange Norse god has smiled on us.
Not Even Splitting Logs
We like to keep readers informed of brewing scholarly disputes, especially when a fraudulent position just might win in the pop cultural milieu. You know how it goes: the fraudulent side proposes a theory, gets it published, and next thing you know, your illiberally liberal and rut-riven cutting edge Aunt Irene is spouting it off at the next family gathering. The current stew of mischief is a book by C. A. Tripp (deceased) that repeats the favorite liberal shock claim that Abraham Lincoln was "predominately homosexual." Here's an excerpt from an impressive refutation in The Weekly Standard:
"The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, already an object of derision among specialists, contains a poison pill in an afterword by Michael Burlingame entitled 'A Respectful Dissent.' Recently retired from Connecticut College, Burlingame has a monumental three-volume Lincoln biography in progress with Johns Hopkins University Press. He and Tripp got along well and shared information, if not a thesis.
"'I liked Tripp, but he was careless and sloppy,' Burlingame told me. 'I'm surprised that Free Press accepted my afterword since it says the book is full of baloney.' In particular, Burlingame devastates Tripp's intellectual honesty by noting that he had suppressed many stories of Lincoln's heterosexual interest.
"'Since it is virtually impossible to prove a negative, Dr. Tripp's thesis cannot be rejected outright,' wrote Burlingame. 'But given the paucity of hard evidence adduced by him, and given the abundance of contrary evidence indicating that Lincoln was drawn romantically and sexually to some women, a reasonable conclusion, it seems to me, would be that it is possible but highly unlikely that Abraham Lincoln was 'predominately homosexual.'"
"The present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived." "A man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can anyone take this from him?" Marcus Aurelius
Blast Those Flippin' Libertarian Moralists!
The bedrock principle among most libertarians we meet in the bar is pretty simple: keep the state out of our lives. A number of sub-principles flow from this, but one we repeatedly hear is that the state has no business inculcating virtue in its citizenry. In light of monstrous attempts by the state to promote virtue (the National Endowment for the Arts comes immediately to mind), we've always sympathized. But we've always thought, with the likes of Aquinas, that the state has an important role in promoting virtue, and not just in preventing manifest wrongs. Most notably, we think the state should promote a certain overall framework within which virtue can thrive. This idea is normally derided among bar stool libertarians as hopelessly idealistic and the planting ground of Socialism, Communism, or Vaticanism (see definition below).
Imagine our surprise to read the godfather of American libertarianism, Richard Epstein, conclude his lengthy essay in Varieties of Conservatism (2004): "Sound political institutions can find ways to shield honest and generous persons from the machinations of others, thereby increasing the odds that desirable character traits will prove successful in the grubby business of life." Emphasis added. It's not a direct endorsement of our views, but it supports the idea that the state has at least some sort of role in promoting "desirable character traits."
Ten by Oscar
In our last issue, we cited two funny titles of books by Oscar Levant. Levant was a pianist, composer, radio and TV personality (a regular on the Jack Parr Show), Man About Town (close friend of George Gershwin's and a rebuffer of Judy Garland's affection), and a tremendous wit, as evidenced by these ten great lines:
10. There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.
9. I am no more humble than my talents require.
8. I envy people who drink. At least they have something to blame everything on.
7. Behind the phony tinsel of Hollywood lies the real tinsel.
6. A pun is the lowest form of humor–when you don't think of it first.
5. Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome.
4. I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.
3. When I was young I looked like Al Capone, but I lacked his compassion.
2. When Frank Sinatra, Jr., was kidnapped, I said, "It must have been done by music critics."
1. I'm going to memorize your name and throw my head away.
Pishachi: A female devil or ghost, especially one that dislikes travelers and pregnant women. "The feminist movement has traditionally been filled with pishachi."
Vaticanism: A neologism, meaning "Church control of morality through the state, generally accomplished through nefarious means that only rednecks can discern."