Month: February 2013


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)

William James, the American philosopher and one of the founders of the school of thought called Pragmatism, delivered a series of lectures in 1906-1907. James began his first lecture as follows:

In the preface to that admirable collection of essays of his called Heretics, Mr. Chesterton writes these words: “There are some people—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether in the long run anything else affects them.” I think with Mr. Chesterton in this matter.

The lectures were published in 1907 under the general title Pragmatism. [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1981, p. 7]… 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)

Chesterton’s contemporary, the English poet Alfred Noyes, reminisced in his autobiography about his 1902 weekends at R.C. Lehmann’s home. There he remembered meeting G.K. Chesterton, who was standing in the library quoting William Morris. Later, at lunch, Chesterton “suddenly produced from his pocket and arranged on the table before him a number of little brass figures, Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Micawber, Sam Weller, and other characters from Dickens, giving one an almost uncanny sense that Gulliver held them alive in his hands.” [Two Worlds for Memory, New York: Lippincott, 1953, pp. 27-28]… Read the rest


Raising the Minimum Wage

Pretty much every economist outside of Obama’s circle knows minimum wage laws create unemployment, artificially raise prices, and, in general, are a horrible idea. I mean, if it makes sense to raise the minimum wage to $9, why not $25? Once you start to work up the answer to that question in your head, you see why it makes no sense to raise it to $9 . . . or to have a minimum wage at all.

Cafe Hayek, incidentally, is covering the issue thoroughly, with posts ranging from the hypocrisy of representatives who push for a rise in the minimum wage yet decline to pay their interns anything (on grounds that their work gives valuable job experience . . . whereas other employers’ work presumably doesn’t) to aggregations of links that blast the proposal for what it is: bad economics, political grandstanding, a slash at the poor and the middle class, and merely a bone for the unions (by increasing the minimum wage, union negotiators can push for higher wages for their workers–“Our wages are only $3 an hour over the minimum wage!”–which is the real reason the Democratic Party is pushing for this).

One of my favorite passages about the outlandish minimum wage proposal comes from the Grumpy Economist:

President Obama’s state of the Union Address was to me, an interesting peek into the Administration’s thinking, and a revealing piece of political rhetoric (I mean that in the good sense of “rhetoric,” i.e. “what arguments we use to persuade people”)

…today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong….

Tonight, let’s declare

Read the rest



On Saturday evening, I watched one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen: Searching for Sugar Man. The story told by the documentary has made a small media splash, so maybe you’re acquainted with the story. If not, don’t read about it first. Just rent it and let the story unfold.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96% approval. IMDB: 8.1. Those are astounding figures for a documentary, putting it on par with movies like Good Will Hunting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Gone with the Wind.

My praise should also raise a few eyebrows, incidentally. Not because I’m much of a movie critic, but because I generally dislike documentaries. I dislike them for two reasons:

(1) They give people a false sense of accomplishment/learning. People watch documentaries and feel good about themselves, thinking they’re educating themselves. And to some degree, they’re right: they are learning. But when you realize that the average adult can read the text of an hour-long documentary in about five minutes, you realize that you’re learning at a retarded pace. If you see a documentary that interests you, read about it on Wikipedia instead. You’ll learn ten times more in the same amount of time.

(2) They make strong impressions. The video format is shockingly powerful, giving documentaries far more influential power over the mind than they merit. As 60 Minutes has demonstrated through its frequently borderline fraudulent yet powerful episodes, the documentary maker can push pretty much any agenda he wants, without regarding to truth or accuracy. The ability to edit film and present it in the mesmerizing video medium is a great power. . . . and one often abused.

Sugar Addendum

I just noticed that Sugar Man won best documentary at the Academy Awards last night. I didn’t even … Read the rest


Depressing Stuff

Anybody here pay their own health insurance premiums? I do. I received notice that my premium is going up 26% this year. And oh yeah: I have to pay a chunk of the same premium increase for my staff. * * * * * * * Great country, this USA. Perfect place to be middle class: you’re forced to subsidize the poor and even people from other countries (how many times am I going to get behind a person at the store with food stamps who can’t speak the language?), and you’re forced to bailout millionaires on Wall Street. Meanwhile, the cost of tuition and health care skyrockets, with food prices just trailing barely behind. * * * * * * * The authorities say food prices are only ticking up a little (sample), but they’re lying. Go to a restaurant, where the grotesquerie of miniscule portions and escalating prices is evident to anyone who dines out even occasionally. * * * * * * * Oh, and Obama wants to raise the minimum wage. That’ll help the middle class afford things.

The Self-Rape Myth

Thing is, I actually think this is a great country, but it’s a stupid country. Until it sees that the state and federal governments (especially the federal) is the enemy of our society, things will only get worse. We need to elect politicians who understand this adversarial relationship and want to fight against the attacker.

The adversarial relationship, incidentally, that goes all the way back to the earliest forms of political organization. It’s always “the governors” against “the governed.” We’ve just tricked ourselves (or let ourselves get tricked) into thinking that it’s our government since it’s comprised of elected officials. That myth might be the cornerstone of all our country’s problems. … Read the rest



I’m a fan of neither space exploration nor whisky, but some of you might find this story interesting: The Final Frontier For Whisky. A whisky manufacturer is sending a bottle of clear liquor into space with shards of oak in it. It’ll be back in two years. They’re thinking the results will differ than the test bottle they’re leaving on the ground. I’m thinking I really couldn’t care less, but if you’re into space stuff, enjoy the link.

The First Miracle

The newest theological topic? It’s whether Jesus really turned water into wine. A few people claim he really turned it into beer. No, they weren’t there, but they’re compiling various pieces of evidence to conclude that it was craft beer, not fine wine, at that wedding feast.

This is really going to mess up my meditations on the Second Luminous Mystery.

Something for Lent

“I do not regard a man as poor, if the little which remains is enough for him.” Seneca.

“He has most who needs least. Don’t create needs for yourself.” Escriva.… Read the rest


Nasty IRS Trick

It’s not too often that my blawg and TDE overlap, but they did yesterday. Readers, especially clergy, might find this article interesting: IRS Attacking Churches. My (perhaps lame) attempt at humor aside, the important thing to take away from the article is this: In order to qualify for a tax deduction for checks in excess of $250, your church’s annual statement of giving must recite that you received an “intangible religious benefit” from your donation.

Something for Lent

I’ve been listening to a lot of Mother Angelica lately. I find something soothing about her delivery (except when she coughs; that’s a bit jarring). I like falling asleep to her. Anyway, even though her videos are all pretty equal in quality, this one was a bit better than the rest (forgive her poorly-informed digression on football) and it pertains to an issue that has long interested me: noise in the world.

I wrote a piece a few years ago for New Pantagruel that identified noise as the eighth capital sin. It appears to have disappeared from cyberspace. I’ll have to see if I can find it in my C drive and post it here. It’s one of my favorite pieces (among the gruel I’ve penned).

Good Late Night

Over the weekend, President Obama played golf with Tiger Woods. Tiger said the president was a very good golfer for a guy who plays only five days a week. Leno

Yesterday Burger King’s official Twitter account got hacked. When asked for comment, people who follow Burger King on twitter were too embarrassed to identify themselves. Conan

Pope Benedict is deaf in one ear. He’s deaf in one ear and also a little bit blind, but boy, he sure could play a mean pinball. Letterman

In a new interview, Bill … Read the rest