September 24, 2021
September 23, 2021
The Kiplinger Letter
I think we can agree on one thing: all information is suspect. No source can be trusted.
So where does one turn?
I have a ton of opinions about that, some of them even consistent with one another, but I think the folks at Kiplinger might be an answer. I’ve been reading their short letters for decades. If they bring a bias, it escapes me. I really think they just try to report things as honestly as they can, with a sure eye on the pulse in Washington (which is increasingly the only pulse that matters anymore as it crushes and suffocates the smaller semi-public and public spaces).
I’m going to start mentioning random bites here occasionally. It won’t be a regular thing, but when you see the headline “Kiplinger,” you know I’m simply lifting something from one of their newsletters. So, you might see:
Since 1983, the share of U.S. workers in unions has fallen from 20% to 11%.
Texas’s crackdown on social media will likely be thwarted by the courts, with lawsuits funded by social media companies.
Football gambling is poised to soar this year. 45 million Americans plan to place legal or illegal bets on the 2021 season. That’s up 36% from last year.
We Know It’s Awful but . . .
“We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked, and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently, and lawfully to become immigrants in this country.” The 2005 Barack Obama.
“Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple. . . . People who enter the United States without permission are illegal aliens and illegal aliens should not be treated the same as people who enter the U.S. legally.” The 2009 Chuck Schumer.
September 22, 2021
Granddaughter Edith’s first wedding reception where she can dance by herself. 16 months.
September 21, 2021
New book is another step toward uniting science and Catholicism. “If scientific conclusions are true and Catholicism is true, they must eventually meet up and can’t oppose one another (this was the debate Aquinas won against Siger de Brabant).”
September 20., 2021
The Weekly Eccentric: Collectors, Hoarders, and the Childless.
September 18, 2021
My MDM collection arrived today.
BTW: My apologies if you came for Satire Saturday and only got this. Rough week, with a rougher one ahead. I hope to re-start the satire project two weeks from today, but we’ll see. I’m mulling over the general concept. I’ve gotten a few enthusiastic responses but not as much additional traffic as I would have liked. My general feeling is that it’s a good idea but I haven’t gotten the word out, but the other possibilities–it’s a bad idea and/or (gulp) a matter of poor execution–is never far from my mind. It’s new territory for me.
September 14, 2021
Combatting COVID in the Garden
A reader writes: They use Artemisia annua in Madagascar for Covid. This is called “sweet annie” over here, an invasive herb that you will see dried for crafts, wreaths, etc. It is a close relative of wormwood which is used to make Absinthe.”
September 11, 2021
Satire Saturday: “All mortals look the same.”
September 10, 2021
I long ago grew bored with those “drink list” articles: “8 Drinks to Try if You’re a Fan of the Great Gatsby,” “5 Drinks to Try if You’re Looking for Something New,” “7 Drinks to Try if You Think Elvis is Still Alive,” “9 Drinks to Try if a Dog is Latched onto Your Genitals.”
It all got quite tiresome after, oh, the 200th list.
But a new one caught my attention this week.
The list is pretty good. Most of the drinks look great and aren’t too difficult to make, especially the Midori Sour:
After the melon liqueur was launched in the U.S. in 1978 by Japanese company Suntory, the rest was history. The unmistakable neon-green bottle found itself on backbars at some of the country’s biggest nightclubs, including New York City’s Studio 54, where the liqueur made its debut. Its eponymous sour—a mixture of lemon and lime juices, Midori, vodka and soda water—was consumed heavily throughout the 1980s and ’90s and has recently seen a rise once again as Japanese cocktail bar culture becomes more popular in the U.S. Contemporary cocktail bartenders employ Midori to create all sorts of visually appealing cocktails that taste delicious, too, and what was once a bottle that collected dust on the shelf is now a desirable ingredient once more. Get the recipe.
September 9, 2021
The MP3 seems to be a series of lectures delivered in New York City. I just wish I could figure out who the lecturers are. If I had to guess, they’re professors from Christendom College.
The specs say there’s 12.75 hours of lectures. My app contains many (many) more hours than that. Highly recommended. The audio quality doesn’t meet 2021 standards, but it’s good enough.
September 7, 2021
The Weekly Eccentric. Gardening and political philosophy rolled into one.
September 6, 2021
Happy Labor Day. Consistent with TDE tradition (which notes that website traffic drops significantly on holidays), there is no blogging today. The Weekly Eccentric column will run tomorrow.
September 5, 2021
Man, I love it when our elites trip over their own feet: China Bans Effeminate Men.
The ruling class has been jamming transgenderism down our throats, while every member of the elite, from LeBron James to Wall Street, has been begging China for its blessing. What does one do with this?
Better call John Cena and have him apologize for something. He has a body that meets Chinese requirements, so maybe he can somehow frame an apology in Mandarin that bridges this unbridgeable awkward moment.
September 4, 2021
Satire Saturday: Newest Candidate in Minas Tirith City Council Election Stirring Debate.
September 2, 2021
Recommended Podcast Episode
This tenured Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford walks you through his regular day. His regular day is geared toward the greatest health benefits based on the current science.
As far as I can tell, Huberman works only 90 minutes in the morning plus an occasional 90 additional 90 minutes in the afternoon, so I doubt much of his advice will help most of us with our entire day, but he’s clear that he merely counsels that listeners take and use whatever fits into their particular station in life. Along the way, he has a lot of nifty advice: get outside first thing in the morning to get natural sunlight, do some sort of “forward ambulatory movement” soon after getting up, don’t eat (eating is bad for you).
That last one, I think, is having a significant impact on my overall eating. When a person doesn’t eat, he thinks he’s starving to death or somehow hurting himself. If, however, one starts thinking in terms of “eating is bad for me,” I think it can have significant shifts in one’s eating in general. I think it’s having that effect on me. I’ll keep you posted.
August 31, 2021
A TDE reader sends a picture that he snapped on the backside of a walk sign near the College of Charleston:
August 29, 2021
Kreeft on Pints
A TDE reader writes:
You should check out the “Pints with Aquinas” episode with Peter Kreeft. Kreeft has a moment where he theorizes that the better the source material, the worse the commentaries are about it. It reminded me of your observation in last week’s Eccentric column, saying the Gangs of New York and The Wanderers were so much better compared to their source material. Kreeft also mentions Jaws and The Exorcist as other movies vastly superior to the source materials. He also speculates that’s why any documentaries or movies featuring Jesus Christ are usually terrible. The source material is too holy and good to allow for good commentary. He also is a massive Tolkien nut and has cool things to say about LOTR. Definitely filled with stuff you’d like.
He’s right. I’ve listened to most of the episode and it’s great.
There’s something about Kreeft’s delivery that occasionally strikes me as a bit too assured, but at the same time, it’s refreshing.
And heck, if I were 84 and the author of nearly 100 books, I’d be far more assured of myself.
August 28, 2021
My two “go-to” lines during this unbelievable, soul-destroying humid heatwave:
“I’m working late tonight. As far as my outdoor activities go, we might as well be experiencing a blizzard.”
“It’s like walking in the devil’s crotch out there.”
Satire Saturday: Aragorn and the Rangers or Dirty Mike and the Boys?
A reader writes:
War Against Beauty: This is true – look around, nothing recent seems to be created for beauty. Art, architecture, furnishings, clothing, hair styles, tattoos, body modification, music — all of it not even attractive, let alone beautiful. Sometimes I wonder, with the way people dress and modify their bodies, if they are seeking unconditional love: “I’ve made myself look as repellant as possible — will people still love me?” Link to Pope Benedict musings; nature can still provide beauty.
August 27, 2021
Talk about a war on beauty: Mushroom vodka.
Yup, it’s a thing.
August 25, 2021
A War on Beauty?
Has there been a war on beauty over the past ten years? That’s what Thaddeus Russell and an interesting gay guy named “Jack the Perfume Nationalist” think. I think they may have a point. Here’s their description of the war:
The year is 2021 and the entire world has been painted gray. The once warm and inviting facades of fast-food restaurants have been leveled to the ground and rebuilt to remove references to pleasure or family. Advertisements no longer depict beautiful people or aspirational lifestyles and instead offer a uniform, cloying vision of utopian blandness and equality. In the home, walls dividing rooms have been torn out to create a 24/7 open-plan panopticon and cozy wall-to-wall carpeting has been replaced with sterile, hygienic laminate flooring. After a long day of emailing, food is ordered via delivery app and you settle in to quietly stream a television show, some episodes of which have been removed due to a recent moral panic. Everyone around you seems inexplicably content with all of this, and no one smells like anything.
What went wrong in the 2010s and how can it be corrected? In this course taught by iconoclastic cultural critic Jack the Perfume Nationalist we will examine how one decade in American history sought to eradicate truth, beauty, and art, and replace them with a politics of fear, censorship, and self-policing minimalist austerity. We will learn how engagement with large, uncontainable narratives, reevaluation of forbidden and problematized works, and rediscovery of the neglected sense of smell can reverse the effects of a lost and dehumanizing decade.
August 23, 2021
August 21, 2021
Satire Saturday: Fat Shaming Hobbit Banned from Chicago Schools.
August 20, 2021
I think the entire world, except the Taliban, is disgusted by our federal government and its actions in Afghanistan.
But it arguably did better than the Germans, who allegedly evacuated their beer and wine before their Afghan workers.
August 18, 2021
I finished listening to that Jordan Peterson episode with Brian Marerusku (mentioned in this week’s “Weekly Eccentric”). Although he’s respectful and states that he doesn’t think his theory invalidates the Church’s sacraments, he makes it clear that he’s no longer a practicing Catholic. Peterson point blank asks him about it, and Marerusku replies that he still considers himself a Christian in his own way.
It’s a great episode, by the way, and I’m not a big Jordan Peterson fan (I say that literally: not a “big” fan; I do enjoy his work and occasionally listen to his podcast). He later brings on religious psychedelic pioneer Carl Ruck for a free-ranging discussion, which at one point brought all three to the conclusion that materialism is nonsense in light of what we’re learning from psychedelics.
The three are hardly Catholic, but in these days of leftist secularism, we need to take our allies wherever we can find them.
August 14, 2021
Satire Saturday: Gandalf the Grey or Gay?
August 13, 2021
Granddaughter, Edith, with her Aunt Meg (Edie is on the left . . . such are Meg’s youthful looks, I thought I should clarify).
But this is Friday, so it’s BYCU Day. You’ll notice my upstairs bar in the background. Mostly, it’s an assortment of gins, plus one bottle of whisky, vodka, and assorted liquors. I keep half gallons downstairs.
I don’t know about the rest of the United States, but southwest Michigan got absolutely hammered by two thunderstorms over the course of 16 hours.
My house lost power after each storm. Fortunately, we are hooked up to the same power grid that supplies the hospital, so our power gets back on first, but after the second storm, it was out for at least eight hours.
I’ve never been afraid of thunderstorms (no religious vocations induced by fear for me . . . channeling Martin Luther). Even as a little kid. But when that second storm came through, I was like, “What . . . the . . . hell . . . is . . . happening.” I was a bit unnerved for a few minutes. Everything was big: big thunder, big lightning, big wind, big rain.
I kept muttering to myself, “F’ing Jews.”
(For those without a sardonic sense of humor, that last sentence is a joke.)
August 10, 2021
I’m constantly struck by how quickly my little study can be taken over by random books. On X day, the study is orderly. By Z day, it has books strewn all over. I’m reminded of this Epstein passage:
Books Do Furnish a Room is a truism as well as the title of the tenth novel in Anthony Powell’s twelve-volume Dance to the Music of Time novel cycle, but it needs to be added that books can also take over a room—and not one room alone. Harry Wolfson, the Harvard scholar and philosopher, is said to have used both his refrigerator and oven to store books.
August 9, 2021
The Weekly Eccentric: The Mississippi, Disco, and Defending von Mises
August 7, 2021
Satire Saturday: Orthanc, Symbol of Patriarchy, Must Fall.
August 3, 2021
I’m leaving this afternoon to pick up daughter Meg, who is wrapping up a summer internship with the Augustine Institute in Denver. Expect uneven blogging.
August 2, 2021
Granddaughter, Nora Jade, was born this evening! 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
August 1, 2021
Youngest son, Max, turns 18 today. Old enough to fight our endless wars, not old enough to buy a beer.
If you missed it: Satire Saturday: Alleged Sex Slaveholder Tom Bombadil in Custody.
Satire Sunday: Scourging of Shire Scoured from YouTube.
July 30, 2021
Company to Make Weightless Barbells?
Far out. I hope it works for them. Here are a few other oxymoronic and/or nerd business ideas:
Books without pages
I know people like non-alcoholic beer, but I don’t get it.
Years ago, I was reading a book about how to play poker. The author was an accomplished gambler, and I remember he made this point (which he was adamant about): Poker sucks if there’s no gambling involved. There are, he said, many great card games that don’t involve gambling and poker isn’t one of them. Gambling is the sine qua non of poker.
To me, beer without alcohol is like playing funzies. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, great. I respect that.
But why drink beer? There are a ton of great non-alcoholic beverages out there, ranging from sodas to juices to teas. Why drink beer unless you want a small buzz?
Again, it’s obviously a matter of taste and, therefore, largely rests beyond criticism, but I just don’t get it.