Month: February 2012


When I first started taking a hard look at converting to Catholicism, I was most struck by “spiritual development,” the idea that we have a soul that needs to be nourished and strengthened. I was always taught that I had a soul that would survive death, but it was always kind of an “all or nothing” affair: your soul is saved at death or it’s not. In either event, the soul didn’t have relevance in this life.

When I started to read about spiritual development, I was blown away. I was blown away by the corollary idea of virtue and the soul. I was blown away by the concept of humility. I was blown away, period.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve assembled a sizable library of spiritual works. I’m guessing I have 50 or so volumes, and I’ve actually read many of them (at least large chunks of many of them). I consider myself well-read when it comes to things spiritual.

But every so often, something fundamental hits me. And after it hits me, I realize that, despite my efforts, I still have gaping holes in my understanding.

It happened to me Monday evening. I received a review copy of Courage in Chaos, Wisdom from Francis de Sales. I was delighted to receive it, but the problem is, I’ve never shown much interest in de Sales. I started reading his Introduction to the Devout Life years ago, but I couldn’t stomach the phrase “weave a little nose gay,” so I put it down and never picked it up again.

But Courage in Chaos looked like a nifty little book, so I started reading … Read the rest



It’s primary day here in Michigan. Has Romney irritated me enough to prompt me to pull that Santorum lever? I suspect it’ll be a last-second decision. * * * * * * * Gardening Corner: 80 Odd Things You Can Compost. It’s a good list, but be careful with the grain items they mention (e.g., cereal, potato chips, crackers, etc.). I’ve read in other sources that such things cannot be composted. * * * * * * * A loyal TDE reader sent me an eBay auction link for the SWC glass from yesterday. It sold for $5.99, which is a few dollars shy of $3,000. * * * * * * * Is it against the law to drunk horse ride? How about drunk bicycle ride? It depends on your jurisdiction, but in Michigan, neither is unlawful. I was glad to read the bike part. I’ve been known to weave the Schwinn home late at night a few times. * * * * * * * I’m starting a new hobby: photography. I’m specializing in still shots, the kind that can be captured by my iPhone. If I see something that strikes me as though it’d make a neat picture, I’ll shoot it with my phone. It ain’t exactly Dorothea Lange, and the people with $2,000 digital cameras will scoff, but screw ’em. It’s my stupid hobby. This first shot I call “Weekend Morning without a Hangover”:

Read the rest


Monday Miscellany

I stumbled across this glass at a flea market back in the early 1990s, after Arkansas had left the Southwest Conference. I bought it for 25 cents or something like that, thinking it might be a pretty cool collector’s item some day (since it had Arkansas on it). A few years later, the SWC imploded altogether. It features logos of the schools that were in the conference from 1971 to 1991. It’s now worth $3,000.00.

Naw, just kidding. It’s probably not worth more than a few dollars, but if anyone knows anything about such matters, please let me know.


Margaret (a/k/a “Meg” or, my favorite, “Octavia,” connoting “baby number 5”) turns 11 today. So far so good. She’s a sweet little thing. We’ll see what I’m typing five years from now.

Peirce and Popper

Anybody know anything about C.S. Peirce or Karl Popper? I don’t, except I know Popper excoriated Plato and Russell Kirk excoriated Popper. But Nassim Taleb is a fan of theirs, so I decided to buy two books about them.

I know I resolved to limit my reading to a dozen authors (listed here), but I’ve decided that my studies can include those authors who might enhance my enjoyment of The Dozen. The Peirce biography is splendidly-written, incidentally. I haven’t glanced at the Popper book yet.


Marie had never planned on voting for Romney (like I said on Saturday). She was going to vote for Ron Paul, but now that Romney has irritated her with the phone campaign, she might vote for Santorum, so she can vote against Romney. And truth be told, I’m thinking about … Read the rest


The Panacea

What are the three biggest problems confronting the United States today? There are lots of candidates, but I think most people, regardless of moral or political or religious persuasion, would put these three in the top 5: the economy, rogue nations and the atom bomb, terrorism.

Fortunately, someone has finally come up with a solution to all three: Construction of an imperial death star. The cost would be approximately $852 quadrillion. It would entail government spending on a huge scale, and such spending, the Krugneysians assure us, helps the economy. Rogue nations wouldn’t dare trifle with us, and if it’s accurate enough, we could use it to target small regions known to harbor terrorists. It would also assure that our empire would never fall, so we wouldn’t end up like those silly Romans over 1,500 years ago.

The details are here. It’s the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.

Damn it, Mitt!

Well, if you woke up early enough this morning, you would’ve seen some pretty colorful prose about Mitt Romney. The SoB campaign called my house three times yesterday with campaign ads (and ten or more times over the past week). After some binge drinking (five drinks), I went to my computer and unleashed a barrage at the Romney campaign’s complete lack of propriety. I woke up this morning, sober and groggy, and concluded my prose wasn’t appropriate–not as inappropriate as the Romney campaign’s phone tactics, but still inappropriate, so I deleted it.

The bottom line is, I genuinely question the judgment and prudence of a man who would approve such an inconsiderate campaign tactic. Two weeks ago, I … Read the rest


TDE doesn’t get many opportunities to post “honey shots,” so when I saw this one, I jumped at the chance. A little sex appeal might drive more viewers to these otherwise-stolid cybershores. I’d never heard of Zymurgy (and don’t know what the word means), but if you’re into home brewing, you’ll probably enjoy their site.

That’s a Binge?

I’ve been hearing a lot about “binge” drinking lately. On Fox this week, they said “binge drinking” for a guy is 5-6 drinks (for a woman, 4-5 drinks). Six drinks is a binge? Criminy, that’s one bottle of wine. If I can’t drink a bottle of wine without being considered on a binge, I might as well not get out of bed on Fridays.

But if you put any credence into the binge concept anymore, you’ll like this cool map: Binge drinking in the United States. The northern states are crushing their southern brethren, incidentally. … Read the rest


streetsign.jpgColons, Tebow, and Other

Gosh, I hope so: “Colonoscopy Lowers Rate of Cancer Deaths, Study Finds.” I’d hate to think I’ve been doing ’em for kicks. * * * * * * * I’ll admit it: I’m not a big Tebow fan. I didn’t comment on all the uproar toward the end of the NFL season for the simple reason that I didn’t care enough about it to comment. But a TDE reader sends along this story that quotes liberally from the Catholic Brady Quinn. At one point, I fear Quinn was channeling my spirit: “The former Notre Dame star also questions how Tebow prays: ‘If you look at it as a whole, there’s a lot of things that just don’t seem very humble to me. When I get that opportunity, I’ll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?'” Amen. I’m not comfortable with the grandstand praying . . . or witnessing. Whatever you call it, you’re calling attention to yourself at some level. * * * * * * * The Dow broke 13,000 this week. You diggin’ it? You shouldn’t. The Dow is falling against that one commodity we all like: Oil. But hey, we got the extra 2 cents per dollar in paycheck. Last year, the payroll tax cut covered about 85% of the median family’s rising cost of gasoline, so they only took a small punch to the gut.

Some good late night:

“Oil prices jumped to well over $100 a barrel, and analysts say it’s due to tension in the … Read the rest

Ash Wednesday


Welcome to Lent 2012. I enter the season with high expectations, more so than usual. I can’t identify the source of my optimism, but maybe the letters of Seneca are wearing on me well. Then again, Seneca counseled against hope, though, in his letter on groundless fears (Number 13, I think; maybe number 12) he permits hope if a person needs it to act as a counterpoise to fear.

None of that is really relevant, though. The time to repent is at hand, and we all have plenty to repent. Forty days ain’t enough time for all the work I have to do, but it’ll give me (yet another) start.

May all TDE readers have a blessed Lent. With a dose of grace, I hope TDE will be a help in this regard and not a hindrance. We’ll see. … Read the rest