Month: December 2020

Christmas Eve with GKC

In the round of our rational and mournful year one festival remains out of all those ancient gaieties that once covered the whole earth. Christmas remains to remind us of those ages, whether Pagan or Christian, when the many acted poetry instead of the few writing it. “Christmas and the Aesthetes,” Heretics

Christmas [is] the old European festival, Pagan and Christian, that trinity of eating, drinking and praying which to moderns appears irreverent, the holy day which is really a holiday. “Dickens and Christmas,” Charles Dickens

If you do not like what is sentimental and ceremonial, do not celebrate Christmas at all. You will not be punished if you don’t; also, since we are no longer ruled by those sturdy Puritans who won for us civil and religious liberty, you will not even be punished if you do. Illustrated London News, Jan. 12, 1907

When Bernard Shaw says that Christmas Day is only a conspiracy kept up by poulterers and wine merchants from strictly business motives, then he says something which is not so much false as startlingly and arrestingly foolish. He might as well say that the two sexes were invented by jewellers who wanted to sell wedding-rings. “The Dramatist,” George Bernard Shaw

Everything that is really lovable can be hated; and there are undoubtedly people who hate Christmas. Illustrated London News, Jan. 13, 1906

Christmas occurs in the winter. It is the element not merely of contrast, but actually of antagonism. It preserves everything that was best in the merely primitive or pagan view of such ceremonies or such banquets. If we are carousing, at least we are warriors carousing. We … Read the rest

Seven Days Make One Weak: Christmas Edition

TDE, Pork, BLM, and a Wonderful Life

Welcome to the end of 2020. December 23rd.

The whole world pretty much “checks out” at this point, an annual relief from workaday pressures. This year, the relief is amplified by COVID.

TDE blogging will continue, but on a lighter schedule, as evidenced by this 7D/1W Christmas column. There probably won’t be a Saturday column for the rest of 2020. Though I plan on blogging the rest of 2020, I doubt there will be any new feature pieces or smaller articles. The site will be almost entirely “blog-type” posts.


TDE has been trending upward over the past month. We had our biggest day of the year yesterday: 622 different “Unique Visitors” came. It’s a great note on which to end the active writing year.

We expect more developments next year. We have an active writer on board, who has requested our writing guidelines and plans to start submitting in January. We’ll see how it develops.

If you’re interested in writing for TDE, you can email me at the contact form at the top of the page.

Pork City

If you think more federal government is the answer to anything, you should be required to sit in a dark cell with a bare lightbulb over your head and the 5,500-page stimulus relief package. You should then be required to locate every item of spending and highlight those that are not directly related to COVID relief.

If you then still believe the federal government is the answer to anything, you can leave your cell, but will then be summarily executed, consistent with the solutions provided by … Read the rest

Listening to Podcasts at Oxford in 1374 and Kansas in 1974

Why do we love those conversational podcasts?

If you were a student at a medieval university, you listened to lectures.

And listened and listened and listened to lectures, often more than ten hours a day.

But they weren’t like lectures at today’s universities, where hundreds of students sit in a hall and listen to a professor deliver a monologue.

The medieval morning lectures were like that, but come afternoon, the lectures morphed into dialogue. The professor would assert a position, a graduate assistant would field questions or objections posed by undergraduates, and discussion ensued. At the end, the professor would summarize that afternoon’s conversation.

It was the “Scholastic disputation.”

Each session was meant to unfold knowledge gradually, as informed and inquisitive minds rubbed against one another, sharpening each other in the process, like knives rubbing against a whetstone.

Kansas: Early 1970s

The disputation, like everything else Scholastic, evaporated over the centuries and gave way to the mass lecture hall, with one professor doing all the talking.

In the 1970s, three professors at the University of Kansas brought back the disputation.

The three professors were John Senior, Frank Nelick, and Dennis Quinn, and they led the Integrated Humanities Program, a program dedicated to the wild notion of restoring a sense of beauty and poetic knowledge in its students.

The Program had a lot of facets (e.g., waltzes, star-gazing, great books), but its centerpiece may have been conversations among the three professors with the students watching.

The following description of these highly-popular sessions is taken from Fr. Francis Bethel’s John Senior and the Restoration of Realism.

The 80-minute classes were neither planned nor rehearsed. They weren’t … Read the rest

The Clash and the Angry Left, Circa 1977

funky skull graffiti on locked roll down black door
Photo by William Matte on

I’ve been getting into The Clash lately.

Okay, okay: this probably isn’t the appropriate season for the music of an angry Socialist punk band (it ain’t Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” album), but I couldn’t help it. I got pulled in last week by this Spotify podcast, Stay Free: The Story of The Clash.

It’s really good. I think it’s “overproduced,” in the sense that it tries a little too hard to be jumpy and punchy, making it a bit too disjointed. Each episode so far has started in medias res, then it jumps back, then returns to the middle, then back, then to the middle. I find it a bit disorientating, wholly unnecessary, and mildly disrespectful of the listener’s time.

However, it is really good so far (I’m 3/8ths of the way through).


The brief sidelight about drummer Terry Chimes (Episode 3; 15:00-20:00) is instructive.

Chimes was a butt of jokes because he wasn’t political. He was in the band to make money. That didn’t sit well with the rest of the band members, who let him know it. He finally quit shortly before the first album came out. (In retaliation, the band named him “Tory Crimes” on the credits.)

Years later, Chimes was interviewed and said, though he didn’t realize it at the time, everyone in the band was angry about life in general, which is why they were leftwing radicals:

Every one of those people, no exceptions, came from a broken home. I came from a happy home. When [the manager] would say, “The world’s horrible, it’s out to get you, you have to

Read the rest

Random College Football Thoughts

american football playing
Photo by David Morris on

Notre Dame will apparently get the fourth spot, which makes me happy, but (i) I think Texas A&M is a better choice, and (ii) it annoys me that the ACC will get two teams into the playoffs.

I have little doubt the ACC is corrupt. Prior to Clemson’s unquestionable rise to national prominence, the ACC used its officiating crews to make sure one of its teams emerged toward the top of the national rankings. I’ve also read allegations that Frank Beamer exercised undue influence on the selection committee, using his connections to make sure an ACC team made it every year.

Yeah, I know: Neither allegation can be proven. And I might be wrong. Of the two allegations, I’m more comfortable with the first (corrupt officiating).

But it’s good to see ND start to emerge as a national power . . . possible (that was a beat-down yesterday). An ardent ND-hater once told me, “Notre Dame is like the Yankees. College football is better when they’re in the discussion.”

I agree with that.

I would extend the analogy by saying Michigan is like the St. Louis Cardinals.

But if they don’t get their act together, they’re going to end up more like the St. Louis Browns.

So they’ve moved the CFP semis from the Rose Bowl in California to AT&T Stadium in Texas. Why? Escalating COVID cases in California will keep the Rose Bowl under lockdown.

But how could this be? Hasn’t California implemented some of the harshest lockdown measures in the country (outside of Newsome’s inner-circle)?

Read the rest

Seven Days Make One Weak

The Joe Epstein Affair

So, my man Joseph Epstein made a flash this week with his suggestion that Jill Biden drop the “Dr.” from her title while she serves as First Lady.

The uproar was pretty intense. I saw him referred to as a “misogynist,” “bigot,” and “that Jew bastard” (okay, I only saw two of those three, but the third one was, I believe, there in spirit). He was, based on the backlash, trying to deny Mrs. Biden her identity as a woman, wanted to push women back into the kitchen, and endeavoring to bring back the iron chastity belt (well, again, one of those three things was there in spirit).

I finally got to read the article.

I was dumbfounded.

Well, not really. The idiocy I see from the Left these days stopped dumbfounding me a few years ago, as the Social Dilemma has ripped otherwise-sane liberals to exotic ideological lands where they can’t be reached by wit, wisdom, or discursive reasoning.

But still, this attack completely missed what Epstein was saying. Moreover, if you’ve been reading Epstein for the past 40 years like I have, you’d realize he was merely writing about the sort of things he frequently writes about, like the humorous juxtaposition of traditional things that no longer make sense in light of how societal things have morphed.

Tradition versus current actuality. That’s an Epstein-like theme.

Epstein favors the traditional. He is, by temperament, conservative and, therefore, favors tradition. He, therefore, would honor the title “Ph.D.” if it carried the same gravitas it used to.

But it doesn’t.

And that’s the thing Epstein is poking fun at:


Read the rest