Month: June 2020

Miscellany

Hungary

How’s Budapest this time of year? I tell ya, the Magyars got it goin’ on. A COVID per-capita rate well below the European average, an ongoing resistance to Muslim immigration, and BLM movements under firm control.

Funny, but the same three characteristics can also be found in Poland. Though it appears that BLM has made a bit of progress there, it doesn’t brook Muslim invasion and has a COVID rate even lower than Hungary’s.

Poland and Hungary: Western civilization’s last best hopes. Maybe it’s Hungary’s way of apologizing for the existence of George Soros.

This is the primary reason I wear a mask: “Murphy cited recent scenes from expanded outdoor bar and restaurants showing packed crowds not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing as a reason from pausing indoor dining indefinitely.” That’s in New Jersey.

Now, I appreciate a little Thoreauian civil disobedience, but that’s not what’s happening with these lunkheads. They just don’t want to wear masks. And I don’t blame them, but I want to be able to duck into a bar now and then for a drink. They’re just ruining it for everybody.

I guess I was never aware that there are a large number of “lost albums” out there: studio recordings that never got released and now no one can find. Here’s a list of 14 such albums, a few of which might get “found” and released soon. Excerpt:

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, The Dylan/Cash Sessions

These two icons teamed up in February of 1969 (with Carl Perkins on lead guitar, to boot), spending two days together in the studio recording 15 songs. For

Read the rest

Malcolm

Random Today I Learned

Malcolm X spent his youth in Lansing, Michigan, and he attended Mason High School for a short while. Both Lansing and Mason are less than two hours from me. My high school lost to Mason in the first round of the high school playoffs about seven years ago. Malcolm X’s grandfather was white, making him a “griffe” or a “sambo,” according to Wikipedia. “Sambo” is considered a racial slur, so you didn’t see that Wikipedia reference from me.

And why am I blogging about Malcolm X? Because I have started reading his autobiography, spurred by that splendid new TV series, The Godfather of Harlem (rated R . . . borderline X, in my opinion . . . you’ve been warned). I’ve also long been interested in black intellectual movements. I’ve read Frederick Douglas, some WEB Dubois and Booker T. Washington, and much of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Black theology’s intellectual ties with Catholic liberation theology interests me, though I’m inclined to believe both are ridiculous, and the idea that radical black movements spurred by Christian beliefs are now being replaced by atheistic black movements disturbs me. … Read the rest

Better Drinking Through Science

Historical Liquor

This is perhaps the neatest drinking story of 2020: Distiller using molecular science to hack the chemical codes of aged spirits and recreate them.

They’re bringing back bottles that, today, costs thousands of dollars, if you can even find them, and making them available at retail prices. So, for instance, they can create Old Medford Rum, which was “once America’s most beloved alcoholic beverage, purportedly sipped by Paul Revere on his epic ride in 1775.”

The distillers refer to themselves as “serious booze nerds,” and they’re right. At times, I wanted to roll my eyes and tell these folks to get a life, that they’re taking their craft way too far, that they sound like the craft beer nerds who took one of the neatest revolutions in brewing history and turned it into a nauseating exercise in snobbery.

But they’re the ones who now hold lucrative patents, and Silicon Valley money is flowing freely in their direction. We should all be so lacking in a life.

So, check it out, especially if you’re interested in the art of distilling.

One word of caution: In my (oh so) humble opinion, the story suffers from what Hemingway called “overwriting.” The prose would be splendid if it weren’t so, well, splendid. Excessive use of adjectives, references to visuals that can’t be visualized but sound neat (“a still whose copper pipes snaked through what appeared to be the Ark of the Covenant”), ornate descriptions that feature the writer more than the description. For some reason, it really jarred me, so if you’re sensitive to narcissistic writing (is there any other?), you’ve been warned. I would … Read the rest

Principle of Subsidiarity

What COVID Ought to Teach Us

I’m back from vacation and catching up on COVID matters. I was greeted with news that COVID cases are spiking rapidly in my county, and one of my clients has it and is “not doing well.”

The developments fueled my curiosity. I had, after all, sworn off all things COVID just a few weeks ago, just as I had done about, oh, 36 times previously.

Based on what I can discern, the current developments show: (1) Social distancing does appear to work to prevent the spread, as evidenced by the spike in areas where lockdowns ended and young people have shown a greater propensity for ignoring social distancing; (2) The disease is scary but not nearly as deadly as we once thought. The death rate is about .3 percent . . . or three times the seasonal flu rate. (3) Among youth, the fatality rate is less than the overall fatality rate of the seasonal flu and for folks my age, the fatality rate is about double. The CDC estimates that the CFR for COVID-19 falls to 0.05 percent among people younger than 50 and rises to 1.3 percent among people 65 and older. For people in the middle (ages 50–64), the estimated CFR is 0.2 percent. (4) Lockdowns are not effective, at least when compared simply to living in rural areas where there’s naturally more distance between people. The least restrictive states have the lowest infection rates, but those least restrictive states also tend to be the least densely-populated.

If you put all that into a blender what do you get?

The heck if I … Read the rest

Monday Moanin’

Miscellany

I’m not sure it’s terribly compelling, but these days, I eagerly gulp down every ounce of sanity I find: “Muhammad Ali’s only biological son says that his father would be against Black Lives Matter, calling the movement ‘racist’ and the protesters ‘devils.’ . . . Of the BLM movement, Ali Jr., a Muslim like his father, said: “I think it’s racist.”

Ali spent his retirement about an hour from my house. His local high school played in our athletic conference. I guess you’d occasionally see him in the stands. I never did, but one of my best friends talked to him during an event.

To wear a mask or not wear a mask? I’m agnostic on the issue. Whenever possible, I let the people around me decide. The only time I resent wearing it is while I’m at Mass and already assiduously distanced more than six feet from everyone, and when I’m merely walking around outside. Otherwise, I keep it on me and don it when asked or when clearly appropriate. It’s a minor inconvenience, and if it lets our society avoid Hitlerian lockdowns, I’m all for it.

Nassim Taleb appears to agree with me, but on five mathematical, statistical, and logical grounds. “[T]he naive approach is to say if masks reduce the transmission probability to ¼, one would think it would then drop from R0= 5 to R0=1 ¼. Yuuge, but there is better. For one should count both sides. Under our simplification, with p=1/4 we get R0’= p² R0 . The drop in R becomes 93.75%! You divide R by 16! Even with masks working at 50% we get a 75% … Read the rest

Drinking Matters

Holiday Drinking!

Juneteenth! The date in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation was formally announced in Texas.

A day to drink!

If you don’t drink a beer of color tonight, you’re a racist.

If you want to try such a beer, and be politically correct 2X, try Modelo Negra. My Mexican friends swear by it.

Of course, they also swear by Justice Roberts.

Then again, my gay friends would also swear by Justice Roberts, if I had any gay friends.

While drinking a few vodkas tonight, I’ll have to ponder: Does my dearth of gay friends make me a homophobe? Maybe it does. Just as my wealth of Mexican friends, clients, and acquaintances makes me non-racist.

I think I felt TDE readers’ uncomfortable squirm all the way here in Michigan. You see, “racism” is no longer about one-on-one contact, caring, and affection. It’s about ideas. How you think is more important than how you act. You could be Mother Teresa, but if you don’t think correctly, you’re a racist against Calcuttans.

It’s been that way from the dawn of ideology. Rousseau preached about the goodness of man, then left his wife and five children in wretched poverty. Dickens parodied the type in Mrs. Jellby, as did Dostoyevsky in The Demons with the character Alexei Kirilov (see quote in postscript). Socialism is freakin’ filled with preachers who were hellbent on not doing good. Perhaps most noticeably, Lenin preached the earthly paradise, then started the Gulag.

Ah, it’s not a good state of affairs, that’s for sure. The ideologues are winning, big-time. Which is all the more reason to drink. We have only a … Read the rest