Month: January 2009

Brews You Can Use

Tonight, I drink. It’s my Dad’s anniversary of his discharge from the Marines. I gave him a “dinner and drinks” certificate for Christmas. He’s cashing it in for this most auspicious occasion. I talked to him yesterday, and he wants to go to the drinking club. I haven’t been there yet this year (last trip: afternoon, New Years Eve), and it’s cheap, so I’ve wholeheartedly endorsed his selection.
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Science confirms what men know: Alcohol makes men better in the bedroom (PG or PG-13 link). It’s actually a stupid little article. It focuses solely on e dysfunction. That, of course, is like saying a car performs better because it can start. Just because you don’t have dysfunction doesn’t mean you’re better at the night job. This article doesn’t address any of those basics: the hard-hat/tool belt striptease, the ability to don the Elvis wig, pulling off the pizza man delivery skit, wearing leather boots with gold glitter . . .

Have I said too much?
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I collected beer cans when I was a kid, and I’ve always liked the different kinds of beer bottle logos. When I surf for entries every Friday morning, I’m often tempted to post pictures of neat bottles, but I’m not sure how many share this little joy. No matter, this one really caught my eye, so I’m posting it:

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Does any other product feature such a neat assortment of logos? Pop? No. Dish soap? No. Wine? Maybe. Condoms? Maybe, if you like to see dudes with their shirts off.
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I dislike Budweiser, but they put on some great Superbowl ads. Alas, maybe not this year:

Word is there’s a funny Conan O’Brien spot in the lineup. But Bud, which monopolizes the beer ads during the game, is mainly going to rely

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Thursday Bites

A friend forwarded this latest “end all, be all” of web surfing: allmyfaves.com. It’s a pretty good site. I’ve bookmarked it.
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Ah, crap: Pepsi is now using its TV spots to promote the gay lifestyle. AFA asked Pepsi to remain neutral in the culture war. Pepsi refused. The company said it will continue major financial support of homosexual organizations seeking to legalize homosexual marriage. I drink a lot of Mountain Dew and Pepsi. This one is gonna be tough, it might break my back (get it? break/broke back? hahaaaa!).
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BHO moves up a notch in my book: Larry Flynt denounces him (PG-13 rant). The enemy of Larry Flynt is my friend.
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From the Notebooks

From 2003

I’m also beginning to read the great works of American black writers. I’m not going to say “African-American,” partly out of defiance of political correctness (poor, over-used term that was once such a great source of derision), partly out of ease (economy of words—and typing). I’m reading Frederick Douglass’ Narrative. I’m on chapter 3. The first thing that has struck me? The clarity with which he writes. Makes me wonder: Did he have to write clearer than his white counter-parts in order to get an audience? Probably not, but his writing is friendlier to the reader than many of white counterparts. Other nineteenth century writers (Brownson comes to mind) were considerably more verbose and winding in their paragraphs. After Douglass, I plan to read Washington’s Up from Slavery, Du Bois’ The Souls of Black People, and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. I’m thinking I might write an article, called “Black Chesterton,” or something like that, combining my status (not actual attainment) as a Chesterton expert with my new-found expertise and pointing out pro-family, Distributist, anti-abortion, anti-Hudge … Read the rest

The Wednesday Eudemon

I wasn’t raised in the Detroit area, but I had lived there for two summers. In addition, during my college years in Ann Arbor, I had regularly attended Red Wings hockey games, often taking the Lodge Freeway from I-94 to Joe Louis Arena. Right before I exited for “The Joe,” a large used bookstore loomed up, John King Books, with a block-letter sign promising over 600,000 books.

In 1991, I finally got the opportunity to spend hours wandering the book store’s caverns. On my first trip, I walked away with The Great Books of the Western World, 54 volumes, from Homer to Freud, with Aquinas and Augustine, Darwin and Marx, Dante and Chaucer, and over 60 others. It was a beautiful set, unmarked, only slightly worn. And only $200.00.

When I got home, I dived in. I figured I’d have the set read in about five years, if I skipped the science books by Galen, Copernicus, and others. Sixteen years later, it’s still a beautiful set, unmarred by hardy reading.

It appears I’m not the only one. My old friend Alex Beam (not really a friend, but he subscribed to Gilbert Magazine while I was the editor, and we talked on the phone as part of this article he wrote for the Boston Globe; in terms of cyber-relationships, that’s practically intimacy) has written an interesting book about the history of that set and its shortcomings. Brendan Boyle recounts it at City Journal. Good stuff. Excerpt:

The 54 volumes were hawked door-to-door by frequently unscrupulous salesmen. The Federal Trade Commission twice sanctioned the project for deceptive sales practices (the salesmen’s preferred trick was to pass themselves off as University of Chicago professors). Beam recounts critic Michael Dirda’s memory of one such salesman arriving at his parents’ door: “He

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Tuesday Miscellany

streetsign.jpgI watched Idiocracy with my wife and older children on Saturday. It’s the funniest dark comedy I’ve ever seen. The premise: a young man wakes up 500 years in the future and finds that America has dumbed down beyond belief. All of society engages behaves like the elements of society that we typically associate with the lower classes. The movie’s language is filthy, but for a purpose: in the idiocracy, people use F and S words because they’re too dumb to speak normally; they’re obsessed with sex because it requires no intelligence and appeals to the most animal element. Perhaps the best part of the movie is the background: the middle and upper-classes stopped having children back in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, so the lower classes and their reduced IQs crowded out intelligence. A kind of reverse Social Darwinism.

Added bonus: The movie is short, about 90 minutes.

A very enjoyable romp. Rent it . . . but make sure no children are within earshot.
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From what I can tell, beer drinking has greatly decreased at the high school level compared to levels during my high school years in the 1980s, but sexual activity has greatly increased. Eight years ago, Tom Wolfe wrote about the teen culture of “hooking up” and oral sex. Those items don’t appear to have decreased (is it possible to put that horned cat back in the bag?), but now it’s gone technological, from racy Facebook pages to the new phenom, “sexting.”

In an unusual legal case arising from the increasingly popular practice known as “sexting,” six Pennsylvania high school students are facing child pornography charges after three teenage girls allegedly took nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and shared them with male classmates via their cell phones.

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Tolerance … Read the rest

Feature Essay: Brownson III

His Influence
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Brownson’s thought is his perceptiveness. Although he concentrated on contemporary American issues, writing what is known as “periodical literature,” the truths and conclusions he pulled from the contemporary scene transcend the era. Perhaps more interestingly, he pointed out looming problems, particularly problems about modern life, decades before others even noticed what was happening.

He was, for instance, the first person to condemn Marxism as a Christian heresy, a position that would be echoed throughout the twentieth century in the writings of Arnold Toynbee, Christopher Dawson, and others. He also adumbrated the church-state teachings of John Courtney Murray that would play a major role in Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, holding that all religions not contra bonos mores, not incompatible with the public peace, are equal before the state and entitled to full protection: a “free church in a free state implies the liberty of false religions no less than the true one, the freedom of error no less than the freedom of truth.”

He also predicted that Catholics and Southerners would find a common interest in opposing the plagues from the North: urban industrialism, big business, and centralized central government. About fifty years later, both the South (through the Agrarian Movement) and the Catholic Church (through distributists like Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton) would wage intellectual battles against those plagues.

He was also concerned about America’s pre-occupation with material progress and its exploitation of natural resources, warning that America was placing a disproportionate amount of effort into building new railroads and canals. Progress, he taught, shouldn’t be equated with material growth, but rather with moral growth, and America was neglecting the latter in favor of the former. It’s a problem that has come to a serious head today as science … Read the rest

Brews You Can Use

Brews  You Can Use.jpgLight drinking news this morning. Couple of reasons: I took my oldest children to Mall Cop last night (my rating: 5, but better than I though it’d be), with the result that I wasn’t able to get a head start on this post last night. I also didn’t run across a single drinking story during the week. It doesn’t help that I’m not in a drinking mood. Things have exploded around the office, and I’m doing everything I can just to keep my head above lite beer water (but in this economy, I ain’t complainin’ . . . I just need to make sure clients pay me for the work). I’ve drank only once (that’s not a typo) this calendar year, which means I’m either turning into a bore and/or a loser. Other people might abstain for good reasons, but none of those reasons are driving my dry spell. I’m just pre-occupied with other things.
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NYT writer recommends a $35 bottle of beer:

[T]he beer comes in a 25.4-ounce bottle, rather than the more typical 12 ounces. More important, it is superb: brown in color yet bright in the mouth, with a bracing, spicy, tart, almost woolly complexity reminiscent of a Belgian lambic.

About the only thing against it is the price.

Aside from that, what makes this beer so unusual? The Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien is one of a growing number of beers that spend some time aging in oak barrels, which may be typical for wine and whiskey but is a rare thing indeed for beer. In a way, the brewers of these barrel-aged beers have reached backward into the future.

Centuries ago, barrels were the only vessels in which to brew and store beers. Most brewers strove to eliminate any flavorings that wood might impart

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Weekly Mini-Review

Some new, some old. Some in progress, some finished. Some repeats, some originals.

In Conversation with God, Francis Fernandez, $129.65. This is a flat-out classic. I bought it on Fr. Corapi’s recommendation. It’s the best meditation and practical spiritual guide I’ve ever read, and I’ve read many. Daily meditations (six or so short-ish pages) crafted around the day’s scripture readings. It’s geared to Catholics, but Orthodox would find most of it (say, 90%) helpful, and Protestants, depending on the denomination, would find the bulk of it (say, 75%) useful (there are a few lessons dedicated to Mary, praying with the saints, the importance of the papacy, but most of the lessons are simply about following Christ in ordinary, daily life). I’ve been reading it off-and-on for a year with great benefit. I suspect I’ll be reading it the rest of my life.

Total Pages of Text: Seven volumes, each of which fit in my pocket. My Progress: Read a chunk from each volume. Current Rating: 10. Index: A- (you wouldn’t expect an index in these types of books, but they have good ones). Bibliography and Footnotes: None.
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On Power, Bertrand de Jouvenel, 1945, $10.80. A modern day political philosophy classic that makes this undeniable point: Power, left to itself, is a one-way ratchet. Indispensable reading as we prepare for an ambitious first 100 days.

It’s a somewhat difficult book, but I plodded through it, putting it down repeatedly to think and make notes, like this one:

[Power] is a thing with a distinct identity and its own interests and pursuits: it’s a living thing that preserves itself, seeks to better itself, seeks to enlarge itself.

It’s an entity, and it doesn’t matter if it was put into existence by Dr. Frankenstein or a million voters. Once it

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