Month: December 2008

Happy New Year

I celebrate the New Year in my regular fashion: Meet at the drinking club with friends and family at 2:30 to watch bowl games and drink beer. Afterward, I go home and meet the glare of my wife, who’s been racked with eleven children (my seven and my brother’s four) all afternoon and now has a somewhat-inebriated husband who’s not much help. It gets the marriage off to a lousy new year start, but we eventually get over it . . . by March, anyway.

Speaking of bowl games, Michael (10) got a book of sports trivia. One section contained a list of over 50 defunct college bowl games. I thought about re-keying the list, but instead, found this partial list and this partial list. My favorite defunct bowl name: “The Gotham Bowl.”
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My New Year Resolution for 2009: Start square-foot gardening. I’m reading about it in this book. The potential results sound impressive. It should slash our vegetable costs during the summer and fall and give my children a healthier diet, but it’s going to be a lot of work to get started: gotta build the boxes (though I think I have found four boxes already, rummaging through my office basement and parents’ basement) and mix the proper compost. I was heartened to see that Bill Bonner (the intelligent pessimist at The Daily Reckoning) mentions gardening three times in his 12/29/2008 post about the bad times coming and how people could help guard against it.
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Is your News Year Resolution to lose weight? Planning on using diet pop? These guys are killjoys:

Just because diet soda is low in

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Tuesday Miscellany

Alright, I’ll vomit now: “The French perfumer Etat Libre d’Orange introduced a product this year called Sécrétions Magnifiques that’s supposed to smell like a mix of blood, sweat and semen,” Herz said. “And the fashion designer Tom Ford has a cologne called Black Orchid that he’s said he intended to smell like a man’s crotch.”
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Believable if not enviable: The Roman Catholic Church says one in six diocesan priests now serving in the United States is from another country.

It’s not all bad. One of my best confessors ever is from Kenya. Speaking of which: The leader of Egypt’s Christian minority has banned his flock from confessing their sins over the telephone after a rise in phoned-in penitence. Man, I’d love to be able to do it by phone. A drive-thru would be pretty cool, too.
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Zmirak takes aim at Kwanzaa. Excerpt:

Friday’s New York Times addressed the question that nags at the back our minds this time each year: Could “over-commercialization spoil Kwanzaa?”

It’s best not to read such a sentence with your mouth full, lest you spend the new few minutes scraping tapenade off your tapestries. Like most people outside the Upper West Side, I can’t keep a straight face while reading about the pseudo-African holiday that the tenured black separatist and FBI informer Maulana (Ron) Karenga pulled out of his orifice. The Times, with constipated politeness, reports that Karenga “developed the concept for the holiday in 1965.” What kind of holiday is “developed” as a “concept”? I’ll tell you what kind: Administrative Assistants’ Day.

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0-16 Monday

Well, my Lions did it: 0-16. Unbelievable. The league is set up for parity, but the Lions have managed to be head-and-shoulders worse than anyone else in history (we can debate whether the 0-14 Buccaneers were worst, but surely we have better things to do . . . don’t we?)

But better times are coming. We got rid of Matt “I’ll continue to live in Pennsylvania and draw millions in salary while killing this team” Millen, and we have two first-round draft picks in 2009. We’ll get a new front office and coaching staff, clean house, come at this thing fresh, right? Nope, the owner (rich octogenarian kid given a franchise to run . . . into the ground) said he thinks he’s going to stay the course. Unbelievable.
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I was out of town last weekend with no access to a computer. Here’s an abbreviated Econ Saturday make-up: Peter Schiff made it into the Wall Street Journal last weekend. And, Fred Thompson conveys my view on things:

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Post-25th Miscellany

People sometimes ask, “What’s it like to prepare Christmas for seven children?” My response: Ask my wife. I just have to pay for it all, which is a huge task of course, but it’s spread over the course of twelve months, whereas my wife’s efforts are concentrated into about five weeks.

But I have a few observations about Christmas in general and Christmas in a large family that people might find interesting (for new readers, I have seven children, ages 15 to 3):

1. I wore my pedometer Christmas Eve after the kids went to bed. I logged in over a mile of walking, just carrying presents up the stairs to put under the tree.

2. It takes almost three hours to open, not counting the stockings (which they tear into as soon as they wake up). Marie and I buy approximately eight presents for each child, plus the children buy for each other . . . fifteen per person. They also buy for Marie and me, and Marie and I exchange a few presents Christmas morning (though we exchange most presents after the kids go to bed Christmas Eve). My parents also come over. The result is nearly 150 presents. Wasteful Americans or healthy celebration? I can’t decide.

3. We don’t spend as much on the children as other people in our “socio-economic” class. I simply can’t bring myself to drop $500 on a child at Christmas (and drop $2,000 to $4,000, just on children’s gifts). I don’t condemn those who do, not at all. If I had fewer children, maybe I would, too. I sometimes feel bad that my children suffer such “want,” … Read the rest

Brews You Can Use

Light holiday blogging continues. Just this post from Tim J: I don’t want to catch anybody not drinking. A little Belloc exhortation on the evils of abstaining.

“For who can be properly nourished, if indeed he be of human stock, without wine? St. Paul said to someone who had consulted him (without remembering that, unlike St. Luke, he was no physician), ‘Take a little wine for your stomach’s sake.’ But I say, take plenty of it for the sake of your soul and all that appertains to the soul: scholarship; verse; social memory and the continuity of all culture. There may be excess in wine; as there certainly is in spirits and champagne, but in wine one rarely comes across it; for it seems to me that true wine rings a bell and tells you when you have had enough. But there is certainly such a thing as a deficiency of wine; and such a deficiency is one of the most awful ravenous beasts that can fasten upon a living soul…”

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Christmas Eve

“For while all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of her course, thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne.” Book of Wisdom. “[This] passage, brimming with the mystery of the Incarnation, is wonderfully expressive of the infinite stillness that hovered over Christ’s birth. For the greatest things are accomplished in silence–not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in deep clarity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice. . . . The silent forces are the strong forces.” Romano Guardini
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“He rules the world with truth and grace.” —Isaac Watts ++ “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” —Charles Dickens ++ “The Incarnation…illuminates and orders all other phenomena, explains both our laughter and our logic, our fear of the dead and our knowledge that it is somehow good to die, and which at one stroke covers what multitudes of separate theories will hardly cover for us if this is rejected.” —C.S. Lewis ++ “Regarding not the day, let us give God thanks for the gift of His dear Son… If it be possible to honor Christ in the giving of gifts, I cannot see how while the gift, giver and recipient are all in the spirit of the world… [B]ut we have a Christ gift the entire year.” —Charles Spurgeon ++ “Holiday and Holy Day, Christmas is more than a yule log, holly or tree. It is more than natural good cheer and the giving of gifts. Christmas is even more than the feast of … Read the rest

Something for the Eve of Christmas Eve

Advent is a penitential season. It doesn’t get nearly the respect Lent does in this regard, but I try to do something. This year, I resolved to read all the daily entries in Francis Fernandez’ meditation series, In Conversation with God.

It didn’t go well. The book is great, but I’m not. Between sickness and a blitz at the office, I fell five days behind last week. On Saturday, I started reading Tuesday’s entries and caught up by Sunday evening. It has a lot of great stuff. I figured, “Maybe others have struggled this Christmas, too. Maybe a ‘best of’ Frankie F.’ would help get them ready for Our Savior’s birth.” So as I read last weekend, I typed in a few good passages as I came across them:

“Once again we must want a new conversion–that turning towards God just before Christmas.”

“When you love someone, you want to know all about his life and character, so as to become like him. That is why we have to meditate on the life of Jesus, from his birth in a stable right up to his death and resurrection.”

“It was the simplicity of [the shepherds] that would enable them to see the Child who had been announced to them. It enables them to surrender themselves to Him and adore Him. . . . Without humility and purity of heart it is impossible to recognize him, although he may be very close.”

The “Church invites us to pray: Almighty and merciful God, grant that the anxieties of this life may not impede us as we hasten to meet your Son.” (Quoting the Collect of … Read the rest