Month: April 2015



This link has one of the best assortment of “info-graphics” (deplorable term) I’ve ever seen about drinking. Want to identify the different types of wine glasses? See chart 1. Want to match chips with wine? Chart 5. How about beer and cheese? Chart 8. Trying to figure out how much booze to buy for a party? Chart 6. Want to handy reference for making 30 interesting shots? Chart 16. * * * * * * * Happy birthday to my Mom today. She could identify all those glasses in chart 1. * * * * * * * World map featuring each country’s favorite beer. Of course, our favorite beer is shown as Bud Light, which is an embarrassment, but I guess it’s consistent with our taste in government: long on marketing/reach, short on substance/wisdom. * * * * * * * Pretty interesting: Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History: “’Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History’” uses National Archives documents and artifacts to show how government programs and policies changed over time and to illustrate the wide variety of views Americans hold about alcohol. Youtube video below.

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The first thing that needs to be understood is this: The Roman Empire was a united civilization, the prime characteristic of which was the absolute and unconditional acceptance of one common mode of life by everyone who dwelt within its boundaries.

It’s a difficult concept for a modern person to grasp. When we think of Europe, we are, the European Union notwithstanding, still accustomed to think of a number of sovereign countries, more or less sharply differentiated, and each often colored by different customs, language, and religions: France and its French language, with romance and peasant villages. Germany and its German language, with stern discipline and beer. Italy and its Italian language, with swarthier folk and wine. European nations are, in a way, defined by what they aren’t when compared to the their neighbors.

But people living in the Roman Empire regarded civic life in a totally different way. All conceivable antagonisms (and they were violent) were antagonisms within one State. From the Euphrates to the Scottish Highlands, from the North Sea to the Sahara and the Middle Nile, all was one State.

The world outside the Roman Empire was considered a sort of waste: not thickly populated, no appreciable arts or science. Barbaric. Sure, they were often a menace to the Empire’s frontiers, but that menace was seen as an irritation: the hassle of preventing a fringe of imperfect, predatory, and small barbaric … 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 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)

This from Brocard Sewells biography of Cecil Chesterton:

“Marie Chestertons maiden name was Grosjean. On her fathers side the family was Swiss, and was not very long settled in England; her mother was Scots, a descendant of the Earl Marshal Keith of whom there is a picture in the National Portrait Gallery. In all branches of the family one son in each generation was given the name Keith; which is how Gilbert Chesterton came to acquire it.”

No word, however, from Father Sewell on the inside story behind Gilbert’s first name. [Habit of a Lifetime, Whitefriars: Saint Alberts, 1975, 2]… Read the rest


Miscellaneous Rambling

Anybody have any recommended podcasts? I seem to be running a bit low. It happens this time of year due to all the time I spend gardening and walking outside. * * * * * * * It’s funny, I don’t think I can garden without listening to a podcast. On Saturday, I did a lot of gardening in the morning and, for various reasons, couldn’t listen to a podcast during it. I found myself a bit dissatisfied with the process, kinda anxious to get it over with. I returned that afternoon, podcast in ear, and again greatly enjoyed the gardening experience. There’s “something about” keeping my mind on one thing and my hands busy with something else at the same time that seems to strike a great psychological balance for me. Whatever that something is, I suspect it’s why the Rosary is a great prayer. * * * * * * * We got a Catholic radio station in my area a few years ago. I listen frequently and greatly enjoy it, but Marie and I have noticed one disturbing thing: its female personalities tend to be annoying. Not all of them by any means, but quite a few. They speak with a saccharine holiness that grates the living hell out of me (and thereby puts the hell back in me, I suppose). I don’t want to mention any names (they all … Read the rest

My Annual Weatherman Rant

Great weather last week.

Of course, what goes up, must come down. We are now looking at very cold temperatures. Now, the fact that cold temperatures are following warm temperatures doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen that occur my entire life. What does surprise (okay, annoy) me is the consistent tendency of forecasters to semi-miss it.

Here’s what I mean: Starting last week, they’ve been warning that temperatures were going to drop into the low forties/upper thirties (for the lows). And then every day, the forecast got worse and worse and worse, until now, they’re calling for low temperatures in the upper-twenties. This has happened, no exaggeration, every year for the last five years: a gloomy cold-snap forecast in the spring that gets gloomier and gloomier and gloomier. My question is, how does the same thing happen every year?

It’s kind of like those local sports events that repeatedly start a half-hour late: If you’re always starting a half-hour late, maybe you need to estimate the starting time then tack a half-hour onto it.

Maybe the meteorologists need to estimate a coming spring cold snap then subtract another ten degrees from it.

That’s what I’m going to do for now on in April and May.… Read the rest