Month: July 2009

Brews You Can Use

Hopn GatorTribute to the Fallen

Sometimes, bloggers go out of the way to do something great. That’s what this guy did: Twenty beers we can no longer drink. The prose isn’t great, but the sentiment is and so are the pictures. I had quite a few of these beers in my can collection as a kid. As a college student, I drank a lot of the twelfth one: Falstaff.

Sample tribute:

Ballantine is one of the oldest and most well respected beers in America by true beer enthusiasts. Although the brand still exists, it has downgraded all the way to being lumped with malt liquors in 40 oz. bottles. Old man Ballantine would turn in his grave if he saw his name alongside the likes of “Old E”. Although the Pale ale is still in production, the coveted lager has long since passed. The pale isn’t the same either, only the name remains.

Getting Funky with Vodka

Weird Vodka Infusions to Drink Everything from Skittles to scorpions. Odd stuff. … Read the rest

Wednesday Miscellany

Twitter

Tide turning against the Fed? Let’s hope: “[A] new Gallup poll shows that Americans are turning against the Federal Reserve, with just 30 per cent saying the agency is doing a good job. 35 per cent rate the job the Fed is doing as ‘only fair’ and 22 per cent say it is doing a ‘poor’ job. The contrast compared with when the question was last asked in 2003 is clear. Six years ago, just 5 per cent thought the Fed was doing a ‘poor’ job, while 53% thought it was doing a ‘good/excellent’ job.”

Breaking down gender stereotypes at lightning speed: “Theresa Flynt, vice president of marketing for Hustler video, says that women account for 56 percent of business at her company’s video stores. ‘And the female audience is increasing,’ she adds. ‘Women are buying more porn.'” It’s all progress, according to the writer of the article, a libertine who couldn’t surf outside the 1970’s wake if she tried. Aside: This anachronistic Joy-of-Sex palaver is courtesy of Oprah Magazine: a strong testament to vacuity of the world’s most powerful African-American woman.

And at the same time that Oprah celebrates pornography in America, French women are increasingly refusing to go nude on their beaches. Will the topsy-turviness never end?

One of the better lists I’ve seen: 100 Greatest Writers of All Time. Unfortunately, as of this writing, they’ve only posted 100-76.

The most-interesting article I saw last night: Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies banned (politically-incorrect) cartoons. All reproduced at this link. … Read the rest

From the Notebooks

notebooks.jpgI started to write a book a few years ago. The working title: That Politically Incorrect Institution. It was supposed to be a pithy look at Church history and its ways of regularly defying political pigeon-holes. I never finished it, but I cranked out a decent introduction, a first chapter rough draft, and some good notes. This is the first chapter.

Christianity starts with Christ. It makes sense to start our exploration of political incorrectness with him.

Advocates from across the political field have claimed Christ for their side: Communists, Socialists, Liberals, Conservatives, Monarchists. They all can find something in Christ’s life or his words to support their political vision. It isn’t surprising, of course, since every doctrine, no matter how absurd, has at least a kernel or two of truths, and every truth is tied to the One Truth that was Christ.

Christ was crucified for a reason, and it wasn’t because he went with the stream. He assured listeners, after all, that he is the Life, and live—not dead—things swim against the stream.

So where to start with this lively and kicking instigator?

I say: His birth.

Born in a lowly manger with shepherds surounding, but with kings arriving to give him gifts. The poorest and richest came together. Hardly a conventional beginning. He was a man sent to disrupt the status quo. Even a ruthless dolt like King Herod knew it, ordering the slaughter of newborns everywhere, in hopes of catching the infant troublemaker in a web of death.

As a boy (just 12), he amazed the scribes and pharisees with his learning. He wasn’t from the priestly class. Where did he … Read the rest

Monday Musings

Girl serversBoys Will be Boys?

My son has little interest serving at Mass anymore . He’s just turned 13 and wants to be a priest, but whereas he used to love to serve, now he does so reluctantly and only out of duty.

I figured it was an age thing: the teeny-bopper’s sense of cool (even though he, thankfully, doesn’t carry the obsession with coolness that his peers carry). But when he and I went to Mass yesterday morning, it struck me that there were two female altar servers, no boys. It then dawned on me that most of our altar servers seem to be girls now (at least they’re the ones that are showing up).

I started to wonder, “Does the fact that it’s a mixed-gender thing water down the appeal to the boys? Even if the boys aren’t aware of a bias, are they somehow slanted against altar serving by the simple fact that girls are doing it, too?”

I then thought of other groups I’ve belonged to that struggled as soon as women were admitted. I’ve seen this dynamic at least three times: a struggling or “flat” men’s group admits women, the women provide a great shot in the arm for awhile, then the organization goes down hill even more and, to the extent it does excel, it’s because the women are doing the heavy lifting while the men’s participation dwindles and dwindles.

Is there something about the presence of women that make men lazy? Maybe, but I suspect it’s something a bit more primordial.

I believe men (boys) are, in a sense, innately chauvinistic. If women (or girls) are admitted, the luster … Read the rest

BYCU

Redneck Stuff

I thought I’d heard every redneck joke under the sun, then last week while I was in Alaska, a friend sent a batch of new ones. Since some of them revolve around drinking, and I’m busier than a Kennedy in a cat house, I’m taking the lazy road today and cutting-and-pasting the lot. I hope you enjoy ’em:

You’re An EXTREME Redneck When…..

1. You let your 14-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table in front of her kids.

2. The Blue Book value of your truck goes up and down depending on how much gas is in it.

3. You’ve been married three times and still have the same in-laws.

4. You think a woman who is out of your league bowls on a different night.

5. You wonder how service stations keep their rest-rooms so clean.

6. Someone in your family died right after saying ‘Hey, guys, watch this’.

7. You think Dom Perignon is a Mafia leader.

8. Your wife’s hairdo was once ruined by a ceiling fan.

9. Your junior prom offered day care.

10. You think the last words of the Star-Spangled Banner are ‘Gentlemen, start your engines’.

11. You lit a match in the bathroom and your house exploded right off its wheels.

12. The Halloween pumpkin on your porch has more teeth than your spouse

13. You have to go outside to get something from the fridge.

14. One of your kids was born on a pool table.

15 You need one more hole punched in your card to get a freebie at the House of Tattoos.

16. You can’t get married to your sweetheart because … Read the rest

Kindness and Twitter

Kind Me

One of the neatest online articles I’ve read all year: Good Times: What’s the use in being kind? A host of benefits, it turns out. I read two highly-interesting asides (“There’s an entire blog devoted to former readers of Jezebel.com who were shouted off the comments for not maintaining their very particular brand of womanhood” and “It creates a warped worldview, as you can see in reading some pro-anorexia Web sites. (Or better yet, don’t. You probably don’t have the stomach for them.)”).

I also found a strong exoneration of Aristotelian thinking about virtue: It’s good to do good; it’s good to be good. Such fundamentals shouldn’t need exoneration, of course, but in a world of pop philosophy dominated by Hobbes (life is brutish), Schopenhauer (everything sucks, except islands of fleeting pleasure), Kant (if it’s a virtue, it must be unpleasant), and Nietzsche (I will, therefore I am), everyone these days seems reared to have such a warped mindset. Maybe that’s changing:

Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor argue that another problem is how we confuse what might give us a cheap hit of pleasure — sex, a bout of righteous anger — with what really does bring us long-term enjoyment and other benefits: kindness. Long relegated to those virtues that seem about as appealing as eating cardboard for the fiber, they argue that being kind creates social bonds, benefits the surrounding world, and, yes, is enjoyable in and of itself. Even believing that humans are hardwired for kindness — and not that competition rules all — could affect everything from simple interactions to national policy on eldercare and the health system.

They write

Read the rest

The Little Arts

Talk is Not Cheap

Ludwig van Beethoven once explained to Johann Goethe that the artist is a great man deserves reverence. To illustrate his point, and to Goethe’s flabbergasted astonishment, Beethoven crossed his arms and rudely walked through a group of gathered nobility.

Beethoven’s impolite walk mirrored his stride through life. He saw himself as one of the great artists, and thus he supposed he deserved everyone’s deepest reverence, and that he stood above the everyday conventions of kindness and politeness.

Beethoven was an extremely difficult man. He tyrannized his family to the point of pushing one member to attempt suicide; many doctors refused him as a patient; he abused servants so fearsomely that few would work for him; no woman would marry him. He was the quintessential lonely artistic genius, and has been called the first modern artist because he gave birth to the modern notion that the great artist must be irritable and self-obsessed.

In fairness to him, it must be admitted that much of his crankiness stemmed from his wretched health—colic, diarrhea, fevers, septic abscesses, and the otosclerosis that gradually took away his hearing. But his cranky specter still hovers over modernity’s mental landscape. Many people, especially the young, think themselves destined for some sort of greatness—in art, business, sports, politics, or whatever. And, following Beethoven’s example, many of them tend to disdain the ordinary things of everyday life, thinking such things must be approached within an eccentric scorn, as though these things were beneath their own looming greatness.

This is distressing. When the mental climate of a physically ill and terribly-unique genius like Beethoven is imitated, then we lose the “little … Read the rest