Month: January 2013



I received an interesting email of “incredible historical pictures.” The pictures look legitimate, but I question some of the captions (I suspect the person who assembled the original email took old pictures then put bogus captions on them). Anyway, there were a few pictures that, if the captions are legitimate, are really interesting:

Cow shoes used by Moonshiners in the Prohibition days to disguise their footprints, 1922.
(Reddit indicates it’s a legit caption.)

The earliest known photograph of men drinking beer. Edinburgh Ale. 1844. (Appears to be legit.)

Alerted by the smell of a broken bottle of liquor, Federal Agents inspect a ‘lumber truck’. Los Angeles, 1926.

Johnny Cash performing for prisoners at Folsom Prison – Jan. 13th 1968

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Peterson Observations

I’m enjoying John Peterson’s Pop Goes the Culture. It’s great non-fiction light reading . . . a perfect “bathroom book,” though I haven’t much defiled it that way.

Herewith, a few samples:

In his chapter about the wrestler Gorgeous George, Peterson reminds readers that the blonde hunk of vanity referred to himself as “The Human Orchid.” That slayed me. I think I’ll start using it around the house to refer to myself.

Writing about Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, one of my favorite albums of all time: “If you’ve heard the album, you know that it’s unique. The audience reactions, loud and raucous as Cash had promised, have a reality about them that is at once funny and sad and entirely different from what you hear from the crowds in other live concert recordings.”

“We are the wealthiest people in the history of the world, and the inane ways in which we splash our wealth around will provoke laughter or tears, but surely no applause.” Example: Jenny Craig offered Monica Lewinsky $1 million for shedding 50 pounds. That works out to $20,000 a pound.

Banal, but nonetheless startling, fact of the day: “Eighty-five percent of shoppers turn to the right after entering a store.”

Thoughtful quote of the day: “God cannot be found in noise and restlessness.” Mother Teresa

Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain (31-6 in 1968) would drink 28 Pepsis … Read the rest


books.jpgCalling All Nerds: 20 Books to Make You a Smart Catholic

Joseph Epstein is the best essayist alive. He’s urbane, funny, self-deprecating. He’s a fine stylist, and he’s remarkably well-read. I remember William F. Buckley marveling at Epstein’s erudition and wondering how Epstein could have so many anecdotes and references at his disposal. Coming from a guy of Buckley’s learning, that’s high praise.

So it was with great interest that I turned to his essay, “Joseph Epstein’s Lifetime Reading Plan” and his attempt to respond to a recent college graduate’s question: “What books should I read?” This question, Epstein said, was nothing less than asking, “How do I become an educated person?”

Epstein used the question to launch his essay, but he didn’t provide a list of books. He suggested that a person always have a classic going: Cervantes, Tocqueville, Montaigne, Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Plato. That’s thumpingly good advice, especially for someone like Epstein (and me), who always has two or more books going at once. It keeps one’s reading life varied.

But what about a list? Epstein said there is no dispositive list, and he’s right. The canon of Western civilization alone is neither settled nor static, there isn’t enough time to read everything in one lifetime, and everyone’s situation is different. One list won’t fit all.

Still, I think a list is possible, and here’s mine: “The Top 20: Books I Want … Read the rest


Those are four of my kids, handling a snake during their visit to Detroit these past few days. I think the picture is gross. Snakes give me the willies. It’s because I have such a finely-honed sense of original sin and the snake’s role in the existence (or non-existence, as it were) of evil. * * * * * * * Okay, it’s just because I’m a wuss. * * * * * * * One month of winter down. Two to go. * * * * * * * I envy the St. Louis Cardinals because of their beer, their historical success, but most of all, because they had Stan the Man. The devout Catholic died this weekend. Fr. Z had perhaps the best Catholic tribute. * * * * * * * How many Americans have read 22 non-fiction books in their adult lives, much less have 22 non-fiction books to recommend? Dylan Grice has presented his list of must-read books.. It’s a great list and should interest anyone who finds current finance (and the recent history that led up to our current mess) interesting. * * * * * * * I was startled to see him recommend Bonner’s Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets. I loved that book. From its prose to its ideas to its approach, it was unique and, I suspect, a masterpiece on some level. But I … Read the rest

Something for Sunday Morning

Cross.jpg“Our Lord wants those who follow him in the midst of the world to be people who work well. They must be known for the quality of their work, which will have the prestige of excellence, and be thoroughly competent in their job or profession. They cannot be slapdash in their approach to their work. they must be people who will stand out visibly motivated by noble human objectives, because one’s work, of whatever kind it be, is where we must practice the human as well as the supernatural virtues.” Francis Fernandez… Read the rest


Day Off and Foot Traffic

I’m taking today off. Except for the Saturday before Christmas, it’s my first Saturday off since early November. I’m pretty stoked. * * * * * * * You know something odd? My law firm’s foot traffic has increased dramatically over the past year. Business in general is good, but it doesn’t account for this throwback practice to the turn of the century. The telephone (traditional life-line of the lawyer) doesn’t ring as often as it used to, but foot traffic and client emails have skyrocketed. I understand the emails, but foot traffic? * * * * * * * I bought a worm factory and got it set up ten days ago. As of last night, it seems to be going great. The worms are “digging” the food and they’re not trying to escape. I hope to have my first batch of vermicompost by April 1st. After that, they say I should get a batch every 4-to-6 weeks.

A psychiatrist writes a fairly penetrating op-ed, putting the Te’o situation in a cultural context. I think he gropes a little far (the psychology underlying Te’o might be causing the national debt problem?), but overall, it’s pretty good. Excerpt:

The tale of Te’o is a close relative to that of Balloon Boy—the fake story of a boy who was supposedly adrift inside a capsule beneath a homemade air balloon (when

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I found that book in my local bookstore’s “Free” box out front. It looks pretty good. I doubt I’ll get around to reading it soon, but hey, if it’s free, it’s me.

A new study, funded by the beer industry, finds that beer is good for the economy. Link. I don’t really understand the need for all the economic data cited in the article. It seems like the analysis is rather simple: Does the beer sector increase the wealth of society? If it does, it’s good for the economy. If it doesn’t, it’s bad for the economy. So if beer is a good thing and the beer producers make more of it, or better versions of it, for less money, then it’s good for the economy. If it produces less beer, or lower quality beer, for more money, then it’s bad for the economy. It doesn’t seem like the analysis has to go much further. … Read the rest


It seems a doctor in Germany is being sued by the family of a patient who died after 16 items were left inside of him after the surgery. The doctor said he felt terrible. He tried to call the family but couldn’t find his cellphone.… Read the rest