Month: May 2008

The Saturday Eudemon

This kind of thing fascinates me: One of South America’s few remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes has been spotted and photographed on the border between Brazil and Peru. I thought you’d have to go to New Guinea, a south Pacific archipelago, or the west side of Detroit to find such a thing.
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That last comment, incidentally, isn’t a racial comment, but rather a reflection on the wasteland that has become Detroit. No doubt some will accuse me of racism. It’s been my experience that people with poor morals love to accuse others of racism. I’ve concluded that it’s their easy way to salve their consciences: “I vigilantly fight racism, which is the worst sin since, well, worst sin ever. Therefore, I must be a good person, despite my personal life.” I could be wrong, but I repeatedly see the phenomenon (personal immorality with intense racial righteousness) crop up.
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Sign me up: Grumpy Clubs sprouting up in England. What do they do? They gather at pubs to drink and deride England’s government and attempts to tear down English culture.
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A plastic surgeon has written a controversial children’s book explaining nose jobs, tummy tucks and breast implants. It’s called My Beautiful Mommy. The editors struggled with the name. Other finalists: My Shallow Mommy. My Artificial Mommy. How My Mommy Sated My Shallow Daddy. How Mommy Found Me a New Daddy. How Mommy Attracts Lots of Boyfriends/Daddies. How Mommy Has Shown Me to Lead My Life in Conformance with the Norms of Degrading and Hormonally-Charged Popular Culture.
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Saturday BYCU: A car crash victim’s life was saved because he’d been out drinking lager . . . the fluid from the four cans he had just downed stopped him dying of shock. Read the rest

Brews You Can Use

Beer Cheaper than Gas.jpg

I figured that was a good way to kick off the BYCU. I won’t be doing much driving this weekend, but some inebriated bike pedaling is a possibility. Drink a few, ride bike to the baseball games. The only problem with that is, I can’t sneak out to my car for a tween-innings swig. I’ll play it by ear.
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First, they ran up the price of food. Now, they’re running up the price of beer: The Environmental News Service reports the flex-fuel vehicles at this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Denver will be running on waste beer from Coors Brewing. It reminds me of a headline earlier this week. I can’t find the story, but the headline said something like, “Vatican official: Fuel at the price of food unjust.” I think that sentiment can safely be applied to beer.
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Great GKC anecdote that fits with today’s theme:

The story is told of GK Chesterton delivering proofs, late, to his editor. The office was deserted, with just one person, from the accounts department, to take delivery of the great man’s work. When Chesterton produced from his bag not only his corrected pages but a bottle of port and a glass, the terrified clerk confessed he was teetotal. ‘Good heavens,’ Chesterton squeaked in dismay. ‘Give me back my proofs!

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Alright, this sounds perfectly juvenile, but I could see myself doing it: Two Belgian beer fans have launched a video game that allows players to slalom down ski slopes or kill aliens while relieving themselves at urinals. Then again, maybe I couldn’t see myself doing it: “The booth is designed for two users at a time.” Call me a hetero, but I simply don’t like my exposed member to be within nine inches of another guy’s.
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The Politics Read the rest

SofC

Am I really going to write another stream of consciousness post just eight days after my first one? I think so. Things are brutal around here. I have eleven days with baseball games out of twelve; every day except Sunday has a game. I had a meeting last night that went far longer than expected, and when I got out, I had a text message saying my wife’s car was broken down, so I went back to the ball field and hung out with her until the tow truck guy came. I got to bed, exhausted, around 10:00, which is about an hour after my normal bed time. I forgot to relieve myself first, though, so I ended up flooding our mattress. Okay, that didn’t really happen, but it might as well have. When it rains, it pours, so to speak. But I don’t think there’s any rain in the forecast. Things are awfully dry for May, especially considering that it has reached 80 only once this year. If this were California, we’d be prepping for an inferno. You ever read Joan Didion’s essay “Fire Season”? Good stuff. I bought her We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live last year and have really enjoyed it. I read her essays and try to figure out what makes them good, then I apply it to my writing. Really shows, huh? I did the same with Mark Steyn and Joseph Epstein essays two years ago and it dawned on me: These guys pack their essays with interesting facts, plus sidelights of humor and insightful commentary. It takes a lot longer to write an essay with lots of facts, but the end-product is much more interesting to the reader. The essays aren’t just some guy telling people what he thinks. But now all … Read the rest

Marriage Quotes

Soccer game, baseball game, Marie in Chicago with oldest daughter. I’m beat. Quotes like these are made for days with no blogging time. Sorry if you’ve seen them already:

“Getting married for sex is like buying a 747 for the free peanuts” – Jeff Foxworthy

“I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.” – Groucho Marx

“The best way to remember your wife’s birthday is to forget it once.” – H.V. Prochnow

“I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she’s having her own way. And second, let her have it.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

“A man’s wife has more power over him than the state has.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God, and I didn’t.”- Unknown

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” – Rodney Dangerfield

“Getting married is a lot like getting into a tub of hot water. After you get used to it, it ain’t so hot.”- Minnie Pearl

“Behind every great man there is a surprised woman.” – Maryon Pearson

“They say love is blind…and marriage is an institution. Well, I’m not ready for an institution for the blind just yet.” – Mae West

“Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn’t they’d be married too.”
– H.L. Mencken

“A man is incomplete until he is married. After that, he is finished.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor

“I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her.” – Rodney Dangerfield

“No married man is genuinely happy if he has to drink worse whisky than he used to drink when he was single.” – H.L. Mencken

“A wedding is just … Read the rest

The Eighth Day Eudemon

“An eighth and eternal day, consecrated by the Resurrection of Christ. . . there we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise.” That’s St. Augustine’s City of God. I found it in a forgotten treasure: The Eighth Day Books catalog.

It’s a forgotten treasure because I got dumped from their mailing list years ago and kind of forgot about them. Quite unfortunate. Their annual catalog isn’t just a catalog: it’s a piece of literature, seriously. I’d pay money for it. $2.95? $4.95? $9.95? I don’t know. I just know it’s the best piece of free mail you’ll ever receive: 170 pages of book reviews, choice quotes from choice authors, literature, history, philosophy, religion . . . wisdom. Think I’m exaggerating? Go to their site and download the pdf version of the catalog. It’s great stuff.

Did you know there’s a History of Walking? It’s written by anthropologist Marvin Harris. You can read about it on page 5. How about a collection of essays by Czeslaw Milosz? Go to page 148, read the synopsis, and see this great line: “[T]he science of life depends on the gradual discovery of fundamental truths.” Did you know von Balthasar called Vladimir Solovyov the greatest philosopher since Aquinas? I didn’t. I learned it on page 125. The same goes for this tidbit: The Pseudo-Dionysius is the most often-cited author in the writings of Aquinas after Aristotle (page 121). I was very surprised to read that the man who wrote the devout Three Stages of the Interior Life had a “pugilistic style in theological debate” and earned the epithet “sacred monster of Thomism” (see page 120). You may have heard of the Optina monastery in Russia, but did you know there’s an Optina Elder Series? Read about it, and glean … Read the rest

Porn Tax?

California considering a porn tax? I found this story at an odd news RSS feed. But is it so odd? I wrote an op-ed rough draft seven years ago, proposing a similar thing. I’ve cut-and-pasted it below, and I’ve bolded the most-salient paragraph. Forgive any awkward sentences or mistakes. It should also be noted that the California legislator is imposing the tax at the level of production, not point of sale, so parts of the op-ed aren’t relevant to the current bill in California. Finally, be aware that my thinking on taxation issues has shifted quite a bit in the past seven years, but I was fortunate to find the old piece in my archives so I’m posting it anyway:

Pornography is not a good thing.

Although one might argue that pornography is a mere mild scourge that results in a few unpleasant things like sex addiction, there is ample evidence that it is a major scourge on our culture that contributes to serious problems like crime (especially sex crimes), disrespect for women, domestic abuse, adultery, and divorce. Empirical evidence shows that municipal areas with sex businesses become centers of crime–prostitution, racketeering, money laundering–and that pornography is a common denominator among convicts. We can debate whether pornography leads to crime or whether pornography merely attracts the criminal element, but either scenario isn’t a ringing endorsement for pornography.

We also know, from common sense, that vice tends to lead to other vices, and that viewing glorification of a vice can lead to acting out that vice. If audio-visual portrayals didn’t influence people in such fashion, all modern advertising would be a complete waste of money. We also know that pornography has become remarkably prevalent on the Internet, with some experts estimating there are 70,000 porn sites [as of 2001], many

Read the rest

The Memorial Day Weekend Eudemon

A good weekend, indeed. Marie took six of the seven way up north to “Bird Camp,” a weekend of bird watching and enjoying the great outdoors. It’s one of her family’s three summer traditions. It’s equally part of the tradition that I avoid it.

It’s a colossal waste of time. At least for me. I won’t judge how another person spends his time and I appreciate the value of spending time with ones family, but for me, walking–actually, “strolling at a pace that assures virtually no exercise”–for hours and hours, then going back to the cabin where 25 people are all in one common room, then eating in a mess hall, then strolling for more hours, and doing this for three straight days and nights, is a frustrating waste of time.

When I climbed in the van to come home the last time I went (about seven years ago), I felt ready to be the subject of a TV talk show: jangled nerves, demoralized, wiped out but facing Tuesday at the office, five-hour holiday-weekend road jam drive ahead of me, not talking to my wife but congratulating myself for not beating her like a rabid dog (I may have called her a rabid dog, but I didn’t beat her), honestly concerned that I was losing my mind. It was brutal.

Thing is, my wife doesn’t like it either, and she hadn’t gone in five years. She went this year for a variety of reasons, including nostalgia. She called me on her cellphone last night and jokingly cursed me for sitting in our comfortable home. She said it was freezing up there but she was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I didn’t even know those two things–near frost and mosquitoes–could exist together, but apparently they can. I told her that it … Read the rest