Month: September 2012



Low-impact weekend. A little work at the office, a little gardening, a little football, a lot of reading. Perfect. * * * * * * * No surprise: “Couples who share the housework are more likely to divorce, study finds.” But I wouldn’t be surprised if the study’s conclusions confound cause and effect. It would seem arguable that that couples who adhere to the “traditional” division of labor are also those who naturally find contentment in the married life. * * * * * * * Man, I thought I was a nerd for posting that picture of my gourds. I guess there are entire shows devoted to gourds. A TDE reader tells me, “Weird but cool — the competitive world of growing/crafting gourds. Also, there’s a group of people who make musical instruments out of large gourds, sort of a Grateful Dead thing.” * * * * * * * My son Jack, Sophomore in high school, is out for the season. He has a broken back (hairline fracture in L5 vertebrae). The doctor suspects he’s had it since August or so, yet he was third on the varsity squad in tackles after three games. I’m proud of him, if a little concerned that his pain tolerance is a little too high and his common sense a little low. * * * * * * * Some good Conan: “At a recent concert, Madonna told the audience she would strip naked if President Obama is re-elected. In a related story, President Obama is now trailing in the polls by 97 percent.” And “It’s rumored that in a recent Univision interview, Mitt Romney wore makeup to appeal to Latino voters. I can’t wait to see Romney’s appearance on BET.” … Read the rest


I have about two dozen of these gourds, various sizes. I was bummed out that they weren’t pumpkins, but I’m kind of digging them now.

That’s about all I have today. It’s the football time of year, and Michael (8th grade) had a game last night. A loyal TDE reader, however, sent this to me yesterday. It might be the best (if saddest) pic I’ve seen all year:

Alcohol, discovered by Prohibition agents during a raid on an illegal distillery, pours out of upper windows of three–story storefront in Detroit during Prohibition.

Link. … Read the rest


From the Notebooks

The Nock on Babbitt?

It’s interesting that Sinclair Lewis labeled the repressed character in Babbitt after Irving Babbitt, the Harvard professor from Ohio who emphasized that men must restrain their appetites or America will fall. Lewis’ use of the eponym was meant as an insult to Professor Babbitt. The term “Babbitt” subsequently became synonymous with a narrow-minded sort of smalltown provincialism that is more concerned with how the local high school football team does than with art and higher pursuits.

Nock, for his part, repeatedly knocks “Babbittry,” so much so that I have taken my copy of Babbitt off the shelf and plan to start reading it shortly. He, for instance, says “I am all for frying Babbitt over a slow fire.” In this and other passages, I believe he is referring to the symbol “Babbitt,” rather than Irving himself, but at times, it’s difficult to tell.

If Nock disliked Professor Babbitt, it seems odd. I’m not well-acquainted with Babbitt’s philosophy, and I don’t see myself ever reading his seven volume Democracy and Leadership (such a pursuit is reserved for that day when a private patron decides to subsidize my leisure for the greater good of mankind), but the general tone of his thinking, at least as presented in Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, seems to overlap a lot with Nock’s.

Babbitt, Kirk wrote, believed that preoccupation with things economic would make our culture superficial. He referred to the “great greasy paw” of commercialism, lamenting that it was sullying everything in America. Such a lament is wholly consistent with Nock’s observation that “economism” (the belief or attitude that the material things in life are paramount) was ruining America.

Babbitt also pointed out that it’s a mistake to think that democracy and imperialism are inimical . . … Read the rest


The Campion/Waugh book came yesterday. I was pretty stoked. The days have been long: community bickering, lots of office projects, family issues. It was nice to settle in with this minor masterpiece last night. * * * * * * * Humanae Vitae Exonerated, Episode 3,291,042: Danish sperm donor passes genetic disorder to five children. * * * * * * * Murray Rothbard explodes slanderous myths about libertarianism. I used to believe myths one through four. * * * * * * * Have a smart phone? Get the Discerning Hearts application. I downloaded it this weekend, and it has quickly become one of my favorites. It appears this apostolate started in 2011. I’m awfully impressed with what it has accomplished in just a year. … Read the rest


Great garden pic that I stumbled across yesterday (credit). * * * * * * * Wow, I’ve reduced myself to admiring garden pics. Can the nursing home be far behind? * * * * * * * Great piece by Ross Douthat at the New York Times yesterday. He points out that Washington and its suburbs have gotten remarkably wealthy in the past 15 years. He draws the undeniable parallel to Panem, the capitol city in the Hunger Games’, whose parasitical existence comes at the expense of the rest of the country. Definitely check it out. The title says it all: Washington versus America. Excerpt: “[I]t doesn’t seem like a sign of national health that America’s political capital is suddenly richer than our capitals of manufacturing and technology and finance, or that our leaders are more insulated than ever from the trends buffeting the people they’re supposed to serve.” * * * * * * * I ran across one of my favorite Chesterton passages yesterday (seen here):

The Saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the…world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age. Yet each generation seeks its saint by instinct; and he is not what the people want, but rather what the people need.

It’s from The Dumb Ox. I first read the book during my third year at law school. It was optional reading in my ethics class. I remember reading it in the courtyard of the old convent that housed graduate students like me. Those hours (or … Read the rest