Month: March 2007

Not-so-Blue Danube

Sad stuff:

When Johann Strauss gazed upon Europe’s grandest waterway 140 years ago, it inspired him to compose the Blue Danube Waltz, went on to become an unofficial anthem of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Today, the river that flows beneath the bridges of the Hungarian capital is anything but blue. Befouled with sewage, fertilizers, and industrial waste, the opaque, brown Danube has become a drainage canal for half a continent, so poisonous that it has devastated life in the Black Sea, which lies at the end of the 1,800-mile long river.

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Look Homeward, America

Caleb Stegall has written a great review of the book. I should have posted this link sooner. Excerpt:

In Look Homeward, America, Bill Kauffman offers a detailed and often idiosyncratic look at the “real split” underlying American society and politics. To paraphrase Gore Vidal, one of Kauffman’s unlikely heroes, that real split lies between those who love the old American republic and those progressive dreamers who would sell their patrimony for a bowl-full of the centralized, mechanized American Empire. Be forewarned: this is not a book for those seeking confirmation of their already accepted political stereotypes. Rather, Look Homeward, America is Kauffman’s quest through American history and its living landscape to find those he lovingly calls “reactionary radicals and front-porch anarchists.”

The result is, by design, impossible to categorize. Kauffman’s collection of throwbacks and throwaways, retreads and retrofits, hillbillies and hell-raisers, poet politicians and insubordinate patriots is a stinging rebuke to political categorizers, taxonomers of the soul, and those who reduce humanity to the talking heads and soundbitten ghosts of American punditry.

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The Weekend Eudemon

Outdoor reading, Knights of Columbus fish fry, drinking club yesterday. Wife and kids gone for the weekend, Final Four games, and more outdoor reading today. It’s a good weekend. Call me a nerd, but I was so excited about my free day that I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Of course, I had also fallen asleep on the couch at 8:30 last night while watching the Pistons game (a throwback to my pre-children days), so I’m not skimping too much on my sleep.

Dale Price has had a few good posts in the past 24 hours:

*These duncical t-shirts from the NIT champions:

West Virginia.jpg

It’s obviously a typo, and we all make typos. But on a t-shirt to be displayed nationwide on TV? Maybe the screener did it on purpose so he can sell them on eBay as collector’s items.

*A new blog dedicated to Catholic dads.

*He also provided a link to my former stomping grounds: The Detroit River webcam. This link goes to Dale’s site, not to the webcam. I tried to download the webcam and it shut down all my Mozilla Firefox windows, so I don’t trust it now.

What do cheerleaders and soccer players have in common? They both lobby hard to make people believe they’re engaged in sports.** But the cheerleaders appear to be taking their bid too far:

Emergency room visits for cheerleading injuries nationwide have more than doubled since the early 1990s, and the rate of life-threatening injuries has startled researchers. Of 104 catastrophic injuries sustained by female high school and college athletes from 1982 to 2005 — head and spinal trauma that occasionally led to death — more than half resulted from cheerleading, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. All sports

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The New Computer Eudemon

I bought my first new computer in over three years. The Tech Guy installed it yesterday. It’s pretty nice: 19″ flat screen monitor, soft-touch keyboard, Windows Vista, most-current versions of all the standard software. I think I’m one of the first persons in my town to have Vista and the updated MS software products. The Tech Guy, who has a busy practice, said, “You’re my guinea pig.”

Warning: Vista looks cool; Vista looks different. It definitely has some neat features, but it’ll be a week or two before I Fonz it (thumbs up or thumbs down). It took the Tech Guy and me two minutes to figure out how to open a document in Word. Thumbs down. When I shrink screens, I can put my cursor over it and it’ll bring up a mini-screen to show me what’s on it (so I don’t have to leave my current screen–thumbs up). I’ll try to remember to give you an update, but if I don’t, it means I forgot and that means Vista is working well.

No comments on this blog yet. I had hoped that they’d be activated last night, but we’re not there yet. When the feature is activated, post a (civilized and intelligent) message or two so I know it’s working. I’m hoping to have fairly-active comboxes, though I think my style of blogging doesn’t lend itself to a lot of comments. I group topics in one post, hence people may not feel like pinpointing what part of the post is funny, idiotic, infuriating, etc. Based on other blogs that are about my size (I bring in 300-400 visitors a day, about 3,000 different users per month), I should get about five to ten comments on the various posts.… Read the rest

Friday

Interesting post over at Ignatius Insight about the attempts of one man to bring new age-type practices under the roof of the Catholic Church. Excerpt:

Born in 1900 in Russia, Valentin Tomberg was for many years an enthusiastic student of Anthroposophy, the science of the spirit founded by Rudolf Steiner. In 1945, however, he converted to Roman Catholicism and completely turned his back on the former phase of his life. By the time of his death in 1973 he had written two major works, Meditations on the Tarot and Covenant of the Heart, in which he presents much esoteric knowledge, but now under the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church. . . .

What is the mystery behind Tomberg’s life, and why did he arrive at such a dramatic change in his thinking? In this forcefully argued and uncompromising book, intended for serious students of Anthroposophy, Prokofieff suggests that behind the work of Valentin Tomberg lies a clear resolve to unite ‘esoteric and exoteric Christianity’. In Tomberg’s terms, and those who follow his example today, this means bringing modern esoteric Christianity (Anthroposophy) under the hierarchical and dogmatic structure of the Roman Catholic Church. Furthermore, as Prokofieff demonstrates through his meticulous research, this is the goal of Jesuitism today, that nothing Christian should exist outside the Catholic Church.

The key question, of course, is whether the Tarot is a Christian thing at all. I would’ve (rather strongly) assumed it wasn’t, but Balthasar apparently gave it at least a little more credence, so I should, too.

I don’t post many Letterman Top 10 lists, but this one made me snicker, especially number 10:

Top Ten Signs You’re Watching Too Much “American Idol”

10. At confession, you say, “Forgive me, dawg, for I have sinned”
9. Each week, you vote one of

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Sexualizing Girls

It’s not a good thing. Article at The Register (subscription might be required). Excerpt:

The American Psychological Association’s report concluded that sexualization was damaging to all women, but particularly to younger girls who are still forming a sense of self. Negative effects include increased risks of depression, eating disorders and low self-esteem. It also discussed the negative impact the sexualization of girls can have on society as a whole as it affects other groups, including men and boys.

One of the biggest catch-phrases that sends me through the roof is, “They have to grow up some time.” Sure they do, but at age 11? I hear parents use it all the time to justify everything from allowing kids to go to R-Rated movies to subjecting their kids to a brutal public school environment where sixth graders show up pregnant. Some say, “You don’t do them any favors by sheltering them.” I disagree. That’s precisely what parents do and only a moron doesn’t realize it. The parent shelters and then gradually un-shelters: by allowing them to go into the backyard by themselves, then to a neighbors’, then to school, then to the movies, etc. Hopefully, by age 18, they’re 98% un-sheltered and only need you for financial support and occasional retreats from life’s reality. No matter what, you don’t throw them into sexually-hostile environments in tight shorts and say, “You’re 13 now. Grow up.”… Read the rest

The Quick-Hitting Eudemon

Significant (Nestorian) Christian presence in China by 700 AD? Interesting stuff in the current issue of Touchstone.

Hats off to these renegades: Just as speakeasies arose in the 1920s, smoke-easies are beginning to crop up in this new age of prohibition.

“Show me those pics of Grandpa and the Bondaged Women, again.” Browsing the internet has overtaken DIY and gardening to become the favourite pastime of older people, according to a survey.

[P]roducts of the cannabis plant have been grouped by rabbis within a family of foods such as peas, beans and lentils that is off-limits to Jews of European descent during Passover. I don’t know much about Judaism, but is this cleanliness a renunciation thing? It kind of reminds me of Jack Kerouac’s one-time pledge to give up all sexual activity except onanism.

In a few years, this riddle could become commonplace: What do pandas and Hollywood have in common? Entrepreneurial Chinese are looking for ways to make a profit from the 20kg of excrement produced each day by a single adult male. (They’re trying to convert it into high-quality paper.)

A North Dakota woman has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault and criminal trespass after biting her boyfriend [in his privates] while he slept.” I try to keep this site relatively urbane, so you’ll have to come up with your own “Dream Turned to Nightmare” jokes.

Reminder: I’m looking for hip (edgy, unconventional blogs).

Notice: I hope to allow comments on my blog again soon. It’s been nearly two years. We’ll see if the spam can be prevented this time around. I’m a little nervous, yes. A few months ago, an old frat brother discovered I had a blog and dang-near drooled on himself, thinking he’d troll out in my comments section … Read the rest

Riding the Hell Express

Man steals statue of Virgin Mary from cemetery, paints it to look like a clown, and poses with it for Myspace page.

Stories like these always remind me of Eddie Murphy’s routine about Mehmet Ali Agca riding the Hell Express: “And they shot the Pope. I mean, who would shoot the Pope? What’s your intention in shooting the Pope unless you’re saying, ‘Look, I want to go to hell and I don’t want to stand in line?’ I mean, whoever shot the Pope, they’ll say to him, ‘You shot the Pope? Get in the express line, [expletive].'” … Read the rest