Month: November 2020

A Gay Guy, a Jew, and a Catholic Go into a Bar . . . No, Not Really. I Was Just Kidding.

It’s here: Flat-out speech prohibition, even in private conversations that take place in one’s house: Norway has criminalized hate speech against transgender people.  A “transgression” can land you in jail for a year .  . and three years if the transgression occurs in public.

If you don’t think it could happen, you don’t watch Canada and you don’t read the legal opinions of the SCOTUS Lockstep Left: Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayer (there has never been a block that votes so robotically with one another, but that’s another matter).

In Canada, you just need a few more years of Justin Trudeau.

In the United States, we just have to find an emergency of some sort. We’re inclined to fling our First Amendment rights out the window for a virus with an overall death rate below 1%. Do you really think we’ll demand our right to tell gay jokes if, say, we’re in a war and the MSM tells us that our last line of defense is a crack team of cross-dressers who need our emotional support?

Indeed, the Left has made it known that they’d love to outlaw certain types of speech.

President-Elect Joe Biden has called for speech controls and recently appointed a transition head for agency media issues that is one of the most pronounced anti-free speech figures in the United States. It is a trend that seems now to be find support in the media, which celebrated the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron before Congress where he called on the United States to follow the model of Europe on hate speech.

I think we’re okay for now. Five our justices are still solid on the First Amendment, and even Roberts isn’t ready to jettison the First Amendment entirely.

He’ll need to attend a few more Beltway … Read the rest

Rage Against the Machine

“I am propelled along by my activities, for I am merely a cog in their great machinery.”

Benedict XVI, The Blessing of Christmas

Benedict has a paradoxical way of writing at times.

I guess that makes sense: all truth is ultimately paradoxical (the Divine Man, the Crucified God, the Almighty Baby), but he has a way of “bringing it home.”

In this passage, he flips around activities and motivation.

We commonly think that we undertake our activities. “I do this. I do that.”

But no, says Benedict. Our activities tell us to do this or that. We are “propelled along.”

On top off that, Benedict says our activities constitute a “great machinery.”

Odd claim, that. Gardening, golfing, small talk at the coffee shop, laundry, shopping: great machinery?

I wouldn’t think so, but Benedict is saying that, for all practical purposes, they are. We treat them like they are great: important, compelling, absorbing. And so they propel us along like they are.


Benedict encourages us to escape this great machinery during Advent.

He suggests that we treat greet Advent like we might greet an illness. During an illness, we are drawn out of the great machinery.

I am obliged to be still. I am obliged to wait. I am obliged to reflect on myself; I am obliged to bear being alone. I am obliged to bear pain, and I am obliged to accept the burden of my own self. All this is hard.

Read the rest

Cell Phones, Radio, and the Philosophy of Marshall McLuhan

Breaking down a 21st-century matter by bringing back a 1960s icon.

My first cell phone was the Motorola RAZR V3. That was in 2005.

I didn’t use it a lot at first, but it made me more accessible to my clients. I would often use it to return calls while walking, so I could exercise and earn money at the same time.

I did this the third day I had the phone, walking back to the office after lunch. I called the client at Point A and ended the call a half mile later, at Point B.

After I hung up, I felt like I was waking from a deep daydream. For a moment, I couldn’t even remember what route I had taken from Point A to B, though I had walked the route over a hundred times.

Since then, I’ve grown more use to walking and phoning, but I found that first experience a little unnerving.

How do you like to multitask?

I like multitasking if it’s the right kind. Reading a book while waiting for laundry to dry: smart multitasking. Reading a book while interviewing for a job: dumb multitasking. Ordering a Pabst while the head on your Guinness settles: fun multitasking.

What about multitasking with the cell phone?

Everyone has heard the debate about driving and cell phones. One study says that cell phone driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. The National Safety Council’s website declares there’s “No Safe Way to Use a Cell Phone and Drive,” then links to a white paper about the “cognitive distraction” of cell phone use and noting that “hands-free” doesn’t make much difference.

Yet hands-free cell phone use is still legal in all 50 states and most states even allow hand-held cell phone use while driving. Tons of people still … Read the rest

Seven Days Make One Weak

The Great Reset, Bilderberg, Advent, and the Liturgical Year

“The rational creature . . . cannot wish not to be happy.” STA

The buzz phrase this week?

“The Great Reset.”

It’s scary, but let’s be clear: it’s not a conspiracy. Folks like Justin Trudeau are declaring it openly. Conspiracists don’t do that.

But it is an exercise in the adage, “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” It’s the kind of nefarious mindset that informs Robert Higgs’ excellent Crisis and Leviathan.

The Great Reset appears to be an idea among the global elite that COVID gives them an opportunity to “reimagine” economic systems, along the lines that the elite think more appropriate.

The problem is, there is no such thing as an “economic system.”

People naturally pursue happiness. To paraphrase St. Thomas: A person cannot be so unselfish that he does not desire his own happiness. In pursuit of happiness, he or she will have many different pursuits, ranging from religion to bird watching, from writing poetry to raising children.

In order to pursue happiness, a person needs a level of financial security. (“Detachment” is a kind of anti-security and the first rule of the spiritual life, but that’s an entirely different matter.)

In order to obtain security, most people will seek prosperity.

“Prosperity” is merely a level of security. The prosperity can be a little bit of security (barely living above poverty) or a lot of security (being rich), but it is a type of security.

Prosperity is what people pursue in the market: with their labor, their ideas, their risk-taking, their innovation, their brains.

It’s that simple: People desire happiness. They therefore pursue security. They therefore pursue prosperity. They therefore enter the market.

There is no “economic system,” unless you call the glorious mayhem of billions … Read the rest

How to Pay for Thanksgiving Dinner

Are food prices soaring?

Ever since the 2008-2009 crisis, the thinkers, pundits, and writers who ascribe to the Austrian School of economics have assured us that massive inflation was going to start. They assiduously refused to provide a date, but they assured us nonetheless, often suggesting we hoard gold and silver.

I long ago gave up on massive inflation happening. There were just too many countervailing considerations.

Like the United States army. As long as the U.S. dollar is the reserve currency, it has value everywhere in the world. It will continue as the reserve currency as long as the U.S. army is respected everywhere in the world.

The syllogism: If you have the strongest army, your currency has value no matter what. The U.S. has the strongest army. Therefore, its currency has value no matter what.


Here’s how it works. I’m framing this as precisely as I can, while keeping it simple:

The federal government decides it needs money. It prepares a debt instrument that promises to pay $trillion.

The Federal Reserve then adds $trillion to its ledger by keying it into their ledger (literally creating the $trillion from nothing).

The Federal Reserve then gives the $trillion to the federal government in exchange for the debt instrument.

The federal government then disburses the money in various forms, such as COVID-relief packages.

American citizens then take that money (that was created out of nothing and required zero effort) to buy t-shirts, gadgets, Nike tennis shoes, and Catholic religious artifacts that are manufactured (through capital outlays and labor) in China and other countries.

As a result, instead of the $trillion staying in the United States and driving up the cost of goods (the basic law of supply and demand: the more of something you have relative to other things, the less … Read the rest

Annual Thanksgiving Day Quotes

“Thanksgiving Day originated in New England when the Puritans realized they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.” Mark Twain

“Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.” Samuel Johnson

“Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks.” Shakespeare, Hamlet

“Gratitude is characteristic only of the humble. The egotistic are so impressed by their own importance that they take everything given them as if it were their due. They have no room in their hearts for recollection of the undeserved favors they received.” Fulton Sheen

“Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“Giving thank is not weakness but strength, for it involves self-repression.” Fulton Sheen

“How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child’s personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.” Sir John Templeton

“Gratitude is a species of justice.” Samuel Johnson

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart

“When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.” St. Jerome

“In America, they have a feast to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. Here in England, we should have a feast to celebrate their departure.” GKC

“Thanksgiving Day and Draft Day are the two good days to be a Lions fan.” Anonymous… Read the rest

Black Wednesday Arriveth

You can pick up that nifty shirt at this site.

Of course, it’s too late to get the shirt this year, but heck, everything is too late this year. We should’ve had Black Wednesday in October, before the newest wave of lockdowns occurred.

Me? I thought about defying Michigan’s order, but I’m not. I’m having a handful of people stop by, but due to the various times they’re stopping by, I should be in compliance with the order at all times. My goal is to have a drink with as many different friends and family without doing so irresponsibly.

For good measure, though, I’ll have the windows open and air purifiers cranking.


I was going to play my Spotify “Garage Rock Elite” playlist, but it promises to be a more laid-back affair, so I might go with my “Mellow” list. We’ll see.

My “Garage Rock Elite” playlist has a bunch of songs I’d never heard. A partial list:

“Demolicion,” by Los Saicos (for fans of Peru punk garage rock from the 1960s),

“Don’t Ring,” Come on In, by The Ding-Dongs,

“Tall Cool One,” by the Kingsmen,

“Chicken Half,” by the Sugarman 3,

“Older Guys,” by the Flying Burrito Brothers,

“Rudie Can’t Fail,” by the Clash,

“Brand New Cadillac,” by the Clash,

“Subterranean Homesick Blues,” by Harry Nilsson

“I’m No Count,” by Ty Wagner,

“Voodoo Cadillac,” by Southern Culture on the Skids

If your favorite Black Wednesday watering hole is shuttered by the science, crank these songs out, pour yourself a whiskey, and jam quietly by yourself. If you want the entire playlist, the Spotify playlist (“Garage Rock Elite”) is under “eric.”


And maybe you can enjoy those tunes in your garage.

The weather is unseasonably warm in most areas, and it keeps you in the fresh air, where … Read the rest

Nineteen Decadents You Ought (Not?) Know

Photo by Grav on Unsplash

Both Cicero and Francis Bacon gave deformity a high place on their list of reasons for laughter.

Arthur Koestler said any behavior that deviates from the norm tends to make people laugh, though he also said such laughter is primarily the property of an “uncouth mind,” and he’s probably right (who laughs at a hunchback, except a child or jerk?).

But there’s a type of deformity most of us laugh at, and partly because the target of the laughter is laughing with us: The deformity of decadence.

Here I offer a humorous recount of nineteen decadents of western civilization. They aren’t necessarily the most decadent in western civilization and, in fact, almost certainly aren’t (though the last few on the list would make the top five on anyone’s list), but they each give decadence a different angle.

Some did decadence the old fashioned way: Excess of every sort until they burst. Others had one particular vice they took to an extreme. Others are notable because of one remarkable excursion into decadence. Some had a unique decadence or a decadence grossly out of proportion to their station in life (maybe his decadence couldn’t match Jim Morrison’s, but for a Catholic Pope . . .).


Aristippus

Listed for historical completeness. First philosopher to give intellectual mooring to hedonism, teaching that wisdom lies in the pursuit of pleasurable sensations. Also a forebear of the free sex culture. After criticized for living with a courtesan, he replied that he had no objection to living in a house or sailing a ship that other men had used before him.

Alexander the Great

Listed for the sole reason that I — and many others — can relate to him: He died of a hangover.

Julius Caesar

First Roman entry. Makes it … Read the rest