Month: February 2019


Look Homeward, America, Bill Kauffman. ISI Books, 2006.

Strong, deep, readable, desperate, fun. All those adjectives—even those that trip over one another—fit this book. It’s such a good book, it made me want to quit writing. “If someone like Kauffman, with his erudition and talent, isn’t a household name, what makes me think I can scratch together enough publishable words to cover my underwear budget?”

I’m not saying it’s the best book ever, not even the best book of the past five years (that honor belongs to Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason . . . snicker). Indeed, when I went back through it for this Highlighter piece, I almost put it back on the shelf: it simply doesn’t have the drunken chimp-like markings of the other books I feature here.

Still, Kauffman’s is a real message. Partially Quixotic, partially crucial . . . and there’s considerable overlap between those parts. I don’t know if the passages reproduced here will convey the deep current under Kauffman’s light-skipping prose, but I hope they do. If not, click the link above and buy the book. You won’t be disappointed. Kauffman’s display of his prodigious vocabulary alone is worth the price.

Unique words found in Look Homeward, America:

clochard… Read the rest

Twitter Wednesday

Lel from r/Anarcho_Capitalism

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Miami Rambling

Before I do the Miami rambling, please note that I was able to get a podcast episode into the pipeline before I left. You can listen to it below. You can find the show notes here.

Ceiling. TrastevereMiami is pretty wild. I was shocked by the Hispanic influence. Heck, you can’t even call it “influence.” The place is, culturally-speaking, a foreign country, no exaggeration. Every person in my group that I spoke with said they felt like they were in, say, Guatemala or some other Latin-American country. Over 70% of Miamians speak Spanish at home. When you went to a store or hired an Uber driver or talked with a waiter, the chances were, the person didn’t speak English. It was simply a fact: not a fact that anyone was proud or ashamed of, but just a fact. English is the second language in Miami on the streets and in the local businesses. In the public sphere influenced by government or big business, English was spoken, but otherwise, you were far more likely to find Spanish than English.

Ceiling. TrastevereI’ve never been to Germany, but based on what people tell me, you’re more likely to encounter a cab driver or waiter or store clerk that speaks English (albeit as a second language) than you are to encounter his equivalent in Miami that speaks English.

Ceiling. TrastevereSo did I like Miami? I don’t know. I either loved it or hated it. It was brutally hot. It was in the low eighties, but man, it felt like Michigan in the 90s. I don’t know if it’s because I’m acclimated to winter weather or because Miami is closer … Read the rest


Yikes, this sounds awful:

I once tried to drink lemongrass essential oil for health reasons. It tasted nasty and burned my mouth. Other than that, it was fine.

I’m skeptical about this endeavor:

Even if the brewers master it, you have a fundamental problem: the buzzes are different. The marijuana buzz is far more self-absorbing than the alcohol buzz. Even at mild, non-sinful, levels, the buzzes are simply different. Read the rest


From the Notebooks

Every form of state action has the effect of reducing human cooperation. If the state will take care of it, why meet my buddy at the end of the street to take of that flooding problem that’s hurting our lawns? If the state will take care of it, why see if my friend needs some money during his lay-off? If the state will take care of it, why give a rip about anybody else?

The state = atomization. We lament that everybody’s bowling alone, but we don’t give them any good reasons—important reasons, like the need for food and shelter—to come together. If the only thing left is recreational pursuits, people will lose the habit of being with one another. The result: when recreation time comes, they’ll pursue it the way they pursue everything else: alone.

What’s even more devastating: as people stop taking care of things themselves, they forget how to take care of things. People might forget how to load a gun or how to clean their own house.

Most disturbingly, people forget how to make moral judgments. As the law pervades and tells people how to behave on more and more matters, the practice of making moral decisions dwindles. This applies to every law that is enforced by government, even ones we need. Albert Jay Nock may have said it best, “Any enlargement [of government], good or bad, reduces the scope of individual responsibility, and thus retards and cripples the education which can be a produce of nothing but the free exercise of moral judgment.” The State of the Union, p. 322.

Even a common sense law, like a … Read the rest


misc-rambling-picMiscellaneous Rambling

Shew. Crazy days. Lots going on . . . on all fronts. I’m also sensing spring in the air. Marie says I’m hopelessly optimistic when it comes to spring, but I can sense it. I tell you, I can sense it.

misc-rambling-picA man died after catching fire in a porta potty. Link. “Police reportedly believe the incident could be an accidental death.” WTH else is it? That’s one helluva suicide trick . . . or one cruel hit job (“Let’s set Guido on fire while he’s taking a dump”).

misc-rambling-picI thought “catching fire” in the bathroom meant you really had a good one. I guess not.

misc-rambling-pic“Inside a repurposed Twin Cities brewery, a massive aquaponics operation is ready to provide a locavore’s dream: fresh produce and fish, raised indoors every month of the year.” Link. Based on the writer’s description, the proprietor is an ass, and I recoil instinctively against the term “locavore.” But otherwise, it’s kind of interesting. Fish waste fertilizes crops that grow above their tanks. I’d love to have something like that going.

Slow blogging winds ahead. Lots on the plate the rest of the month. … Read the rest