Category: Essay

How to Find Diversity without Even Trying

Re-thinking our obsession with diversity

Religion is good for you. Religious participation, sociologists tell us, correlates with lower levels of criminality, better health, greater marital stability, and greater well-being.

According to an article awhile back in the Atlantic Monthly, sociologists and economists are studying this phenomenon further and, in the process, have discovered other things. For instance, they’ve discovered that Catholics are likelier to attend Mass if they live in a heavily Catholic neighborhood.

This doesn’t surprise me. When I attended the University of Michigan, I never heard any Catholics discuss Mass, confession, fasting on Fridays during Lent, etc. When I went to the University of Notre Dame, such topics came up all the time. Students discussed what churches have the best (okay, shortest) Mass. They moaned about fasting. Notre Dame back then was 91% Catholic. When almost everyone around you is Catholic, you’re more comfortable being Catholic and acting like one.… Read the rest



Could gnosticism become a hot discussion point, at least in Catholic circles? Al Kresta last week did a segment on the new EWTN documentary, “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” about Saul Alinsky. The producers said that Alinsky was a gnostic.

A gnostic! Wow, I hadn’t heard or read much about gnosticism since the 1990s, when I spent a large amount of time studying it through the works of Eric Voegelin and Norman Cohn’s outstanding, The Pursuit of the Millennium. The reference prompted me to dust off my Voegelin, as well as an aborted book I started to write that focused on gnosticism. I’m greatly enjoying getting acquainted with these old intellectual haunts.

Especially since I think these haunts will explain to me (or re-explain, as it were) what all these disparate leftist trends have in common. I mean, what is the thread that connects, say, open borders, men in women’s restrooms, LGBT marriage, Obamacare, extreme environmental activism, and this hell-bent certitude by the leftists that they know that X, Y, and Z are true, whereas people on the right are ignorant rubes that must be forced along the path to a better world?

The answer, I think, is gnosticism, and because George Soros is the high priest of modern gnosticism, you find his activist money behind the most disruptive causes.

“[T]he aim [of gnosticism] always is destruction of the old world and passage to the new. The instrument of salvation is gnosis itself–knowledge.” Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism.

Expect gnosticism to become a recurring touchstone on TDE from this point forward. … Read the rest


IMG_3150Brews You Can Use

I should’ve called this entry “Miscellaneous Rambling: Day Three.” I had a backlog of BYCU-worthy entries for the past couple of months, but now find myself dry. I’ve had to do something I really don’t like to do: surf the Internet for content. * * * * * * * Believe it or not, the vast bulk of what I post to TDE is stuff I independently find interesting. What I mean is, I read it in a book or stumble across it and like it, without regard to whether it makes good blogging material. I then make a note of it for possible future posting to TDE. * * * * * * * But today? I have to artificially surf for alcohol content. * * * * * * * A random surf for vodka news reveals that there are even more flavors of vodka coming on the market, including cucumber-lime, from Burnett’s. If you’re not acquainted with Burnett’s, it’s a favorite among college kids. Well, at least college kids in Ann Arbor, who drink it by the gallon and refer to it as “Burnasty.” * * * * * * * Some dudes are also now making vodka from sugar beets. I don’t think it’s beet-flavored. It’s just vodka made from beets. * * * * * * * Vodka can be made from pretty much anything. Wheat is the most common, probably followed by corn, at least in the United States. I think potato might be the second most common vodka in Europe. A friend of mine gave me a bottle of the Polish potato vodka “Chopin.” It was excellent. * * * * * * * Of course, I always mix my vodka, so I can’t really appreciate good … Read the rest


BYCU: The Tom Collins

Having grown a bit tired of tonic water, I’ve started experimenting with classic mixed drinks. My first target: The Tom Collins.

I started with the basic recipe: three shots of gin, one shot of lemon juice concentrate, one shot of simple syrup. Shake well. Fill the Collins glass with ice. Pour in the mix, top off with soda water (about 2-3 shots worth). It was pretty good.

I then tried it with lemon juice that I squeezed myself, and it was much better.

I then added a dash of grenadine, and it was fabulous. I highly recommend it. I’m guessing it has half the calories of a gin and tonic (depending, of course, how much tonic water you use and since I typically use about three shots of tonic for every shot of gin, my Tom Collins probably lops off about half the calories).

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Shake the mix. The simple syrup won’t dissolve properly with stirring.
2. Be sure you shake the mix . . . not the mix with the soda water. (I hope the reason is obvious, but if not, you probably shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.)
3. Although I highly recommend New Amsterdam gin, I think you’re probably better off getting a very dry gin. That’s what the classic drink manuals recommend, and I think it’s a little better that way. I’m just using Seagram’s Extra Dry and it’s doing the trick just fine.
4. My Collins glasses are about 16 ounces. That’s a little large, but they seem to be about perfect for this concoction in the amounts mentioned above.
5. I have no opinion about whether you need to use a Collins glass. I used to incline to the view that the … Read the rest



Well, at least he has the decency to admit it, which is more than any leaders in the federal government are wiling to do: Tony Blair apologises for ‘mistakes’ over Iraq War and admits ‘elements of truth’ to view that invasion helped rise of Isis.

Awhile back, I concluded that, if I’m angry about anything, no matter how just my anger seems, I am, at some level, wrong. I staunchly believe this. Even though I’ve gotten angry occasionally since coming to that conclusion, and I can look back at those recent episodes and think my anger was understandably piqued, I believe 100% in that conclusion: If I’m actually to the point of dwelling on a wrong, replaying something in my mind, raising my heart rate, or doing any of the other many things associated with anger, I am, at some level, wrong.

Our country needs to come to a similar conclusion when it comes to war.… Read the rest


This is a pretty good piece:

It reminds me of this short essay that I wrote about ten years ago:

Last Friday evening, I was supposed to meet my father and a friend at the Hillcrest Lounge shortly after 5:00.

I got there at 5:10 and ordered a drink. The others were delayed, so I sat there for over twenty minutes, looking out the window. Other than Ted Nugent on the jukebox, I didn’t know anyone there. It was just me and my glass.

I normally get antsy in such a situation, but not this time. I was content, which I found peculiar. After a few minutes, I understood the source of my contentment: I was sitting with nothingness.

Nothingness has a revered history. The morning Hilaire Belloc decided to walk the Roman road (the pilgrimage that led to his classic, The Path to Rome) he says he passed his beloved horse “Monster,” who was just standing there “regarding nothingness.” Belloc also wrote a collection of essays called On Nothing. His friend G.K. Chesterton referred to “the most precious, the most-consoling, the most pure and holy, the noble habit of doing nothing at all.” In his modern classic, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs, James Schall devotes an entire chapter to the virtues of wasting time, saying at one point, “We need time-out-of-time, the time that passes without our noticing.”

What’s so special about nothingness? Why do these writers praise it?

I think there are two related reasons.

First, the primary thing missing in nothingness is yourself.

Think about me at the Hillcrest Lounge. Why do I normally get antsy in such situations? It’s … Read the rest


streetsign.jpgThe Art of Goodbye

Like every summer, I had a lot of company in August and early September. And like every summer, I was struck by different visitors’ approaches to leaving. While chewing on this phenomenon during random gardening time, I decided that this is probably one of those “little arts” that no one much considers. So as a public service, I offer these three simple tips:

1. For starters, establish a departure day and time. This is huge and, I think, Fundamental Courtesy 101 for any house guest. This site lists it as the number one rule:

Be Clear About How Long You Will Stay
Make sure you lock down your visiting dates far in advance with your hosts…at their invitation. Don’t ever be vague or hope to stretch out your visit after you arrive. If your BFF says she’ll be busy after Labor Day, book your return ticket to leave a full day before so she has some time to herself.

When I say “establish,” I mean, “communicate it to your host.” If you have a good host, you might be lulled into thinking your host has nothing to do besides spend time with you, but that’s not normally the case. Tell your host when you’re leaving and then leave at that time, or thereabouts (no one will have the clock on you, but if you indicate 1:00, you should be gone by 1:30). Your host often won’t care when you leave and would probably be happy to entertain you for however long (within reason), but that doesn’t mean the host wants it to be an open-ended affair. Plus, if you establish a departure time, it helps your host be a better host. If you’re staying until 7:00 that evening, the host knows she needs to plan … Read the rest



Michigan got a new Liquor Control Commissioner a few years ago. I don’t know him, but he seems to be doing a lot of things right. Although I still dislike dealing with liquor matters because it’s a morass of absurd restrictions created by special interests and a web of what I call “bureaucratic common law” (rules created by state employees that you can’t find in the statute or regulations, but that nonetheless create real problems for clients and give lawyers ulcers), our new Commissioner seems to be doing his best to reduce the red tape. Plus, the Michigan legislature has over the past ten years implemented a few (though not nearly enough) liquor code amendments that are helping a bit.

And regardless of how bad things are in Michigan under the 21st Amendment, we’re better off than Pennsylvania. Since I started my once-a-week blogging about alcohol matters, Pennsylvania’s absurd liquor laws have cropped up on my radar screen more than the laws of all other states combined.

The most recent example: Pennsylvania v. 2,447 Bottles of Wine . It seems a man brought 2,447 bottles of fine wine across the state border. He says he bought it for his private collection. The district attorney said he was selling it without a license. They compromised: He was allowed to keep 1,047 bottles for his collection. The authorities now have the other 1,400 bottles, and they’re preparing to destroy them because that’s what the Prohibition-era law requires.

Wine lovers are in arms. They and some legal scholars are insisting the judge read the Prohibition-era statute in light of current conditions.

I disagree. It’s a shame to see 1,400 bottles of wine destroyed (I weep uncontrollably as I type this), but the Pennsylvania legislature could easily amend the statute. Why doesn’t it? … Read the rest