Month: December 2020

Parliament Created the 18th-Century’s Great Gin Craze

“[N]oe sort of Brandy Aqua vite or other Spirits or distilled Waters of any Kingdome Country or place whatsoever shall after the said foure and twentyeth day of August be imported into the Kingdoms of England or Ireland . . .”.

If you read the Wikipedia entries about England’s Great Gin Craze, you see descriptions about how bad it was and how Parliament passed a series of acts to stop it.

But you see scarcely any references to the series of Parliamentary Acts that caused it in the first place.

Let’s look at England at the end of the 17th century.

It had a new royal family in the form of William of Orange, who usurped James II’s throne in the 1688 Glorious Revolution.

William was not universally liked, especially among the Jacobites, who never stopped scheming to get James Stuart II back on the throne.

William was also not liked by the French, whom he bitterly fought in the War of the Grand Alliance and who worked with the Jacobites to get the Stuarts back on the throne.

William, in turn, hated the French and so did his supporters in Parliament.

What better way to strike at the French than to ban trade with them, including a prohibition on its brandy? And so that’s what happened, almost immediately after taking the throne by the passage of the Trade with France Act of 1688, which took specific aim at French brandy (the most popular liquor in England at the time).


“The Howards . . . the Cavendishes, the Cecils, the Russells, and fifty other new families . . . rose upon the ruins of religion.” Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State.

At the same time, Parliament passed the Distilling Act of 1690 that authorized anybody to distill spirits. This created … Read the rest

Taki Veers to the Middle

Taki Magazine is the most fearless sophisticated publication on the planet.

It allows writers to speak their minds, regardless of their reputations and regardless of whether their words skate into forbidden territory (read: “race”).

But it’s not an alt-right publication of clickbait inflammation. It’s smart, erudite, and urbane.

I’ve noticed that this month it is veering heavily to the “smart, erudite, and urbane” side of its formula.

It’s sounding a considered alarm bell to its readers and fellow-travelers, advising them to resist conspiracy theories and despairing resignation.

But it’s doing so with verve.

Exhibit A: David Cole’s recent piece, assuring folks that they are complete idiots if they stop voting because of the Democrats’ voter fraud.

He points out that there has always been voter fraud and it’s primarily the Democrats (which makes sense; such things are the province of the big cities), but that doesn’t mean it’s futile to vote. Far from it.

But that’s exactly what the Left hopes happens. By allegedly perpetrating massive voter fraud this year (see below), they hope to discourage all opposition. The result? A George Soros world.

David Cole minces no words about what this would mean:

The worst of the worst on the left aren’t wizards, and if they’re to be effectively countered, it’s vital to understand how they do what they do. George Soros isn’t a warlock. He’s all too human, though arguably one of the most evil humans to ever draw breath. I’ve said this on Twitter and it sounds hyperbolic, but I’ve never been more serious in my life: The greatest tragedy of the Holocaust is that the one Jew who deserved to die survived. The number of innocent people who’ve been killed as a result of this vile man’s anarcho-tyranny agenda cannot be calculated.

In November, the

Read the rest

GKC on Waugh

Evelyn Waugh liked to send out satirical Christmas cards, and the apex (or nadir] of this practice was reached during the Christmas season of 1929. Waugh’s card that year consisted of extracts reprinted from unfavorable reviews of his first novel, Decline and Fall. The harshest passage of all was taken from a review by Chesterton. [Christopher Sykes, Evelyn Waugh, Boston, 1975, p. 98]… Read the rest

What to Do After You Unwittingly Endorse a Semitic Anti-Semite?

There’s nothing like discovering that you unwittingly endorsed the work of an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier.

A TDE reader contacted me yesterday about my “Genocide in LA” piece from last week and praise of David Cole, noting that Cole is a “Holocaust-denier of sorts” and providing a link to the Guardian’s “Hollywood conservative unmasked as notorious Holocaust revisionist.”

I had resolved to clean up my language during Advent, but that email me prompted me to mutter a phrase about what would happen to me if I went to prison. I clicked on the Guardian article and discovered . . . it’s a complete non-story.

David Cole was reviled because he’s a Jew who claimed Hitler killed only 4 million Jews (not 6 million).

He became convinced that on some points they were right and that as a Jew, he would undertake a quixotic quest to “correct” the historical record, arguing that Auschwitz was not an extermination camp in the manner of Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzac and Chelmno – which he acknowledged were part of a genocidal programme against Polish Jews; that the Holocaust ended in 1943, when the Nazis realised they needed Jewish slave labour for factories; and that there was no overarching, genocidal plan, but an evolving, morphing policy which claimed perhaps 4 million, rather than 6 million, Jewish lives.

That’s notorious, like he’s some sort of Hitler apologist?

“This guy says Hitler killed 4 million Jews, then enslaved a few million more and used four extermination camps not five. He’s obviously a whack nut beyond the pale.”

It is, quite frankly, unbelievable.

I gotta believe his role as the head of the “Republican Party Animals” organization (a play off the title of P.J. O’Rourke’s hilarious book) was a large part of it, but I also have little doubt that … Read the rest

St. John of the Cross Feast Day

He arguably wrote the most Zen-like passage in the Christian tradition

To reach satisfaction in all

desire its possession in nothing.

To come to possess all

desire the possession of nothing.

To come to the knowledge of all

desire the knowledge of nothing.

To come to the pleasure you have not

you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.

To come to the knowledge you have not

you must go by a way in which you know not.

To come to the possession you have not

you must go by a way in which you possess not.

To come to be what you are not

you must go by a way in which you are not.

When you turn toward something

you cease to cast yourself upon the all.

For to go from all to the all

you must deny yourself of all in all.

And when you come to the possession of the all

you must possess it without wanting anything.

Because if you desire to have something in all

your treasure in God is not purely your all.

In this nakedness the spirit finds

its quietude and rest.

For in coveting nothing,

nothing raises it up

and nothing weighs it down,

because it is in the center of its humility.

When it covets something

in this very desire it is wearied (Kavanaugh & Rodriguez 1979a:103 )… Read the rest

Pixel v. Print and Five Hard Novels

I ran across perhaps the most-enjoyable Medium.com pieces of the past few months: Five Insanely Difficult Novels (and Why They’re Worth the Effort).

It, for me, is perhaps the quintessential online essay.

I agree with Joseph Epstein that there is something fundamentally different between reading print and reading pixels.

“One reads pixels, as they are chiefly meant to be read, quickly, skimmingly, chiefly for information.” There is something “insubstantial, ephemeral, impermanent about writing that appears in pixels.”

The print essay entails an element of “gradualness.” It develops points over the course of pages and numerous paragraphs, even putting as many as a half-dozen sentences into a paragraph (each of which, in classical prose, ought to be a self-contained mini-essay). It’s elegant, both in its deliberateness and the respect it shows the reader, whom the essayist assumes is sophisticated enough to stay with a long train of thought

The online essay is none of that.

It’s short, fast-paced, and packed.

Epstein clearly holds the pixel essay in lower regard than the print essay. I guess I do, too, but I’m not sure it’s useful or even fair to compare the two. I think they’re entirely different art forms. It’s kind of like arguing about whether Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky is the better athlete. It’s not a totally inapt argument, but two sports are so entirely different, I’m not sure it’s useful or even fair to compare the two sports preeminent athletes.

I kind of look at pixel writing and print writing like I do frozen pizzas and restaurant pizzas. Restaurant pizzas are better than frozen, but it’s not useful or fair to compare them. They fill different culinary purposes and they’re entirely different food forms.


Anywaaaaaay, the “Five Insanely Difficult Novels” essay is, I think, the poster boy for … Read the rest