Month: February 2009

Brews You Can Use

This might be a 2009 first: Drinking while writing BYCU. I used to do it regularly. Truth revealed: in the early days, BYCU was normally written after a few hours at the drinking club or, at a minimum, a few hours of front porch drinking. After I felt sufficiently steeled, I’d lumber downstairs with my last beer of the evening and crank out the next morning’s post. I haven’t done that lately, and even last night, I merely cracked open a single bottle of Smithwick’s, a most-righteous and rich beer from Ireland. It’s expensive stuff, but packs a pretty good wallop. I first tried it three years after a TDE reader gave me a six-pack of it. Since then, I’ve drunk it off-and-on. I’d rank it in my Top Ten of favorite beers.

Another friend and TDE reader sent me an article about one drinker’s Top Ten beers. Great beginning: “The only New Year’s resolution that I’ve managed to keep is to drink more beer.” I wish I’d thought of that resolution, especially since I’ve only heard of one of his Top Ten, and it’s a beer that I have to sneak for fear of allegations of homosexuality from my virile circle of acquaintances: the Lindemans Framboise. I can’t drink it straight, but two ounces mixed into 20 ounces of a wheat beer? Hoodoggy, it’s excellent. Our local brewpub offers the concoction, and it’s my favorite. (Ten best beers article: Via Lew Rockwell.)

If you want to see a lot of good beer talk, Google “Ten Best Beers.” You’ll get a lot of interesting articles, like this list of top beer names (unfortunately, … Read the rest

The Post-Christian Age?

streetsign.jpgHave we really entered the Post-Christian Age . . . or do few Christians recognize Ash Wednesday that, for all practical purposes, it doesn’t exist anymore, except as a weird-looking symbol on some people’s foreheads?

I have five children that are old enough to participate in organized activities. Four of them had practices scheduled last night, a few had multiple events. My older children had only one Mass time available, and the oldest missed nearly half of it: indoor tennis practice. After an hour of running kids all over the place and adding to my fasting-induced irritable disposition (I know, I know; spare me the lecture), I crashed at 7:00 and decided I’d wake up when society had regained a semblance of Christian tradition . . . or 4:00 a.m., whichever came first.

I like that guy: Archbishop Chaput warned that U.S. Catholics “need to act on their faith and be on guard against ‘a spirit of adulation bordering on servility’ that exists towards the Obama administration.”

Indeed, a spirit of willing thralldom. Does anybody really understand anymore how increased government necessarily decreases freedom, that every dollar spent by government is one less dollar we have the freedom to spend, that government power is generally a one-way ratchet? For a long time, these truths were, I think, sinking into the American people. I think they helped propel the 1994 conservative ascension and Contract with America. But now, just fourteen years after that ascension and ten years after Republicans broke the Contract with America, everyone seems to have forgotten it.

After 9/11, we looked to the federal government to protect us from terrorist … Read the rest

Ash Wednesday Miscellany

Cross.jpgWhen you fast, do not put on gloomy faces, like the hypocrites do. “Today God asks us also for a rather special mortification which we offer up cheerfully . . .” (Francis Fernandez).

Those are hard words, knowing I’ll be cringing by 8:45 a.m. with hunger stabs. I’ll try to keep them in mind. May all of us have a blessed Lent.

Russ Baker wrote to me with regard to yesterday’s post about his new book. He agreed to let me cut-and-paste it here. So, for the record: “Before you draw any conclusions on what you have heard about Family of Secrets, I urge you to read it. Brief radio interviews and reviews from newspaper writers are no substitute for examining the material—and the documentation—yourself. I address the religion issue with details and an inside source. Also, Jeb adopted Catholicism then ran for office from Florida, where that helped him with the Cuban vote. No inconsistency there. For W, evangelical Christianity was the ticket in Texas. Poppy was slow to embrace the advice, and suffered in 1992.”

Due to Octavia’s First Confession last night, I’m pressed for time this morning, so I offer something From the Notebooks.

From 2003:

Sunday morning. Spent Friday evening and all day Saturday in Detroit. My niece, Christina, asked me to be her sponsor in confirmation. A truly shocking pick. In twelve years, it’s the first time anyone in my wife’s family has ever asked me to do anything like that and, of all Marie’s nieces and nephews, Christina always annoyed me the most and my disposition toward her showed it.

That being said, Christina stopped annoying me … Read the rest

Looting Bush

I listened to a fascinating podcast at Lew Rockwell yesterday: Russ Baker on The Looting Bush Family. Baker has written a polemic against the Bushes. The book’s basic premise: the Bush family has been exercising undue influence behind the scenes of government since the early 1960s. What I found particularly fascinating: arguments that Prescott Bush was a part of a Wall Street establishment that controlled Richard Nixon and exercised (still exercises) immense control over Washington, DC. It’s an argument that resonates with my observations last Saturday.

Unfortunately, the whole theory seems to smack of mass conspiracy (almost Matrix-like), which means it’s the type of thing that will never be proven or debunked. Consequently, it’ll just be ignored. Even though I, for instance, find the topic fascinating, I probably won’t follow it up with further reading. My reason: The two sides of the argument are so far apart, I’ll never have any idea who is telling the truth (see, for example, this brutal book review of Baker’s book at the LA Times). What’s the use?

I also struggle a bit with a few things I heard on the podcast, like arguments that the Bush family adopted religion, especially the evangelical version, just to get elected. It doesn’t jive with H’s soft Episcopalianism, and definitely doesn’t mesh with Jeb’s conversion to Catholicism.

Another question: if the Bush family was so powerful, couldn’t they have stopped the punishing attacks from the entertainment industry that wracked W these past eight years?

Still, it’s interesting stuff . . . at least in the way that Ripley’s Believe It or Not is interesting. Listen to the podcast … Read the rest

The Sign of the Coward

“A brave man is also patient.” Thomas Aquinas.

Those two chairs—bravery and patience—don’t go together in most people’s intellectual living room, but if you consider them for a few minutes, you see they match. What prompts impatience? The fear of loss: loss of time, loss of opportunity. And fear, of course, is the hallmark of the coward.

When stagnating behind a fumbling shopper at checkout, one thought runs through my head: “I have other things to get done!” It’s a perfect snapshot of impatience and the latent life of fear that underlies it.

More than one person has observed that America has become a very impatient place. Material poverty has been practically eliminated, but time poverty is rampant. Charitable organizations can find money (up until October 2008 at least), but they can’t find volunteers. Fast food joints aren’t fast enough. Op-eds have been slashed from the standard 900 words to the standard 600 words. Everyone’s in a rush.

It makes me wonder: From whence this impatience? Aquinas may have offered this observation: “Inordinate fear is included in every sin; the miser fears the loss of money, the intemperate man the loss of pleasure.”

I’d offer the flip-side observation: As sin increases, so does fear.

And as fear increases, so does impatience.

Consider America. We’ve become a highly sinful place. I’m not going to Cotton Mather all over you, but just pick up the current Sports Illustrated if you doubt me. Look at abortion, the drug use, the violence. Pick your favorite sin. We not only have it, we often celebrate it. My circle of male friends claim they can’t even fathom how anyone could think … Read the rest

Brews You Can Use

Now Get me a beer.jpg
A real lady’s man, there. Men will say just about anything to get a beer. Let’s see, there’s also “I’ll give you a thousand bucks if you get me a beer,” and “I’ll stop making fun of your father’s erotic tendencies if you get me a beer.” But sweet talking is probably the best way. Some of you might remember the famous Carling ad to the right. I don’t remember it, but I’ve ran across it many times on the Internet. That must be the reason you don’t hear of any babies named “Mabel” anymore. It has nothing to do with the possibility that the name sucks.

The Black Label ad got me thinking about old beer ads. I searched for some of the best. This is the first one to catch my attention, but I don’t like it. Recommended by physicians? Chesterton pointed out that drinking alcohol for the health of it is a sure way to drink the hell of it. As soon as you start drinking because you need it, you’re gonna need it a lot. Drink because you don’t need it, and then you’ll be healthier than all the fitness nuts in the world.

I couldn’t, incidentally, find the exact Chesterton quote (I suspect it’s in the “Omar and the Sacred Vine” chapter in Heretics, but I didn’t want to get out of my chair to check), but I did find this related GKC quote: “Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.”

This site has a great assortment of beer ad posters. It’s hard to choose my favorite among the 80 or so, but I’m … Read the rest