Month: January 2013



If you’re interested in economics and agriculture, you might enjoy this EconTalk podcast: Lisa Turner on Organic Farming. For a variety of reasons, I expected the podcast to be an attack on the organic farming/gardening movement, but it wasn’t. Not at all. The show’s host is genuinely curious about the whole thing. * * * * * * * I guess CBS declined to run a Super Bowl ad by a SodaStream because it was too harsh on Pepsi and Coke. You can see the ad here. It’s not harsh at all. In fact, it’s kind of lame. I smell a rat, maybe a PR-marketing deal between SodaStream and CBS (“If we ban the commercial, you’ll get even more publicity”). * * * * * * * You can now put your head on a PEZ dispenser. What more could a person want out of life? * * * * * * * Mark Shea provided an update of sorts on Fr. Corapi (the update: “There’s not much to update”). I liked his concluding lines: “In America, however, Catholicism drinks deep of the cult of celebrity and confuses that with the cult of the saints. Result: we keep canonizing Living Saints before it has really been established that they are saints and then we circle the wagons to defend them [from just criticism].”… Read the rest

Late Night Kimmel

“60 Minutes” anchor Steve Kroft is defending Sunday’s interview with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, saying that he didn’t have enough time to ask hard-hitting questions. That would be easier to believe if the name of his show wasn’t the amount of time he had.

The president just announced that same-sex couples will be included in his immigration reform bill. When they heard, same-sex couples were like, “You know we’re already citizens, right?”… Read the rest

Late Night Craig Ferguson

Oprah was in the news recently for her Lance Armstrong interview. It was TV at its most powerful. Armstrong tearfully admitted to using steroids, and Oprah reciprocated by tearfully admitting she once had to pump her own gas.

I greatly respect Oprah because she is from a tough background. Her story’s fantastic. She was born dirt poor in the Deep South, then went on to help millions. She was her generation’s Honey Boo Boo.… Read the rest


Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the “Tremendous Trifles” column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He recently gave me permission to use them here. I hope y’all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.

Chesterton Short(s)

In discussing English Liberalism, Historian Fred Reid makes a connection between the Marconi scandal and the Welsh Disestablishment Bill of 1913. The Bill’s sponsors, notably the Marconi speculators Lloyd George and Rufus Isaacs, were accused by the High Church Anglicans of a conspiracy aimed at the eventual Disestablishment of the Church not only in Wales but in England. Gilbert Chesterton supported the Anglicans; and Cecil Chesterton, in his newspaper The New Witness, accused the ministers of a pattern of corruption and abuse of power that included both the undermining of English institutions (i.e., Disestablishment) and unethical insider trading (i.e., Marconi). [The Context of English Literature 1900-1930, New York: Holmes & Meier, 1980, pp. 113-14]… Read the rest


Random Opening

I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but I was dealing with a migraine Sunday afternoon and looking for some low-impact ways to spend time, so I was browsing FB. A friend posted this picture on Facebook, and I was impressed enough to post it here. Her caption: “This is Keukenhof Park in Holland. I was here . . . during Easter week in the spring and it truly is this beautiful.”

Econ Tuesday

Some more Nassim Taleb, an excerpt from one of the best articles of the year (on the thought of Dylan Grice), and a video about the recovery phenomenon that is Iceland.


I’m about one-third of the way through Taleb’s Antifragility. It’s good, but I think I may have read too much commentary about the book and listened to too many interviews with him. It almost feels like I’m reading the book for the second time. If you’re looking for more Taleb, here’s an unflattering article about him (which I’ve read) and here’s a lengthy interview with him (which I haven’t watched).


Here’s perhaps the best finance article of the young year: Dylan Grice: Witch Hunts, Inflation Fears, and Why I’m Bearish in 2013 (here’s a non-pdf link to same article). It merits this lengthy excerpt, an excerpt that, I wish, every person in America would read and absorb into his bones:

Grice asked his audience what happens when a government creates, say, $1 trillion out of whole cloth. (Whether by direct printing of money or by interest rate adjustments, it’s all “basically the same mechanism,” Grice said.) The answer is simple: It spends it,

Read the rest



“You might try never working on Sundays. Just rule it out. See how you like it.” That’s one of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a priest. No matter how busy I get at the office, I don’t work on Sundays, except in extreme circumstances. The “mental shift” that occurs in a person (in me, at least) by setting aside Sunday in its entirety as a day of rest has proven invaluable. You might want to try it. * * * * * * * It’s almost like those Bible people knew a thing or two. * * * * * * * BXVI’s tweet yesterday: “What does Sunday, the day of the Lord, mean for us? It is a day for rest and for family, but first of all a day for Him.”


Speaking of Twitter, my high school son Jack showed me two Twitter accounts: “S*** Nobody Says” and “SportsS***NoOneSays.” It’s PG-13, but there are some funny ones. Sample:

“I love seeing happy couples, they remind me how I have no one.”

“Monday is definitely my favorite of the week.”

“Being a vegetarian would be awesome!”

“Snooki is going to be a great parent.”

“I want to buy that new WNBA game.”

“Pro Bowl party at my house!”

When a person tweets something, people can comment on it. The sports Twitter site mentioned above recently linked to this exchange at Manti Te’o’s Twitter account.

Manti: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent!” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Comment: “Did she tell you this over the phone?”… Read the rest

Something for Sunday Morning

“Being humble, we will ask God for pardon many times a day for our sins of omission and commission, or at least for what is not going well in our life. . . . If we live this way, being completely sincere with ourselves, we will have no reason to set ourselves up as judges of others.” Francis Fernandez… Read the rest


Caption to this picture: “How to Tell When Hunting Season is Over.”

Have you seen Zero Dark Thirty? I haven’t gone, but it has come to my hometown so I was thinking about going. After reading this review, I’m definitely going, though I don’t know if I’m going to like it.

I must say, however, that it cuts against my Candide-like preference for the garden. The world–especially our culture and society–presents one jarring episode after another (yesterday’s jar). The only (emotional, intellectual, spiritual) defense is the practical one of keeping your metaphorical head down. (From the Wikipedia entry on Candide: “The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide’s slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not rejecting optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, ‘we must cultivate our garden'”)

I didn’t take many math and science classes in high school. I graduated before Reagan’s pressure on public education to better equip students to compete in the modern world (which meant: emphasize math and science). My kids have to take a ton of math and science compared to what I took, and I don’t have a problem with (I have a problem with the federal government mandating it, but among the federal government’s atrocities, this one doesn’t offend me much). But I’m glad I spent my youth reading the classics, many of them required by my English teachers. A sampling of the works we studied in high school and that have remained with me to this day: Candide, The Scarlet Letter, Brave New Read the rest