Tag: Dorothy Day

The Other Side of Vegas is on This Side of Vegas

Aches in my head, bugs in my bed
Pants so old that they shine
Out on the street, tell the people I meet
Won’ch buy me a bottle of wine

The Fireballs

So, my post yesterday definitely signals that I’m enthusiastic about Las Vegas.

But let me offer a few caveats.

First, the trash. I’ve been reading a lot of Dorothy Day lately, so I realize I shouldn’t refer to “the poor” as “trash,” but I can’t deny that the term repeatedly bopped into my head. There are a lot of bums on the street downtown. It’s not at California levels by any stretch, but it might be on its way. I don’t think I saw any bums during my last trip in November 2019. But this trip? They’re all over the place in the downtown district.

On top of that, no one seems to care. They’re crashed throughout the downtown district, and the attitude seems to be, “What can we do?” One guy was sleeping in one of the Golden Nugget’s outdoor planters on top of the plants with no objection from the Nugget. It’s almost like they’re sacred cows.

Second, the trash. You don’t have to be passed out on the street to qualify as trash. You can just be disturbingly large yet wear revealing clothes, be inconsiderate of everyone around you, and use the “f word” in lieu of all other verbal modifiers. These folks are all over the place in the downtown district, with quite a few on the Strip as well.

I have an old high school friend who lives in Vegas. He told me the Strip started to experience crime during COVID because the casino resorts were offering such cheap room rentals in order to draw somebody, anybody, to stay there and generate revenue. … Read the rest

This Might Be the Best Book of the 21st Century

Look Homeward, America. Bill Kauffman. ISI Books, 2006.

Strong,  deep, readable, desperate, fun. All those adjectives—even those that trip over one another—fit this book. It’s such a good book, it made me want to quit writing. “If someone like Kauffman, with his erudition and talent, isn’t a household name, what makes me think I can scratch together enough publishable words to cover my underwear budget?”

I’m not saying it’s the best book ever, not even the best book of the past 15 years. Indeed, when I went back through it for this piece, I almost put it back on the shelf: it simply doesn’t have the drunken chimp-like markings of other books I love. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s such a pretty book, with good binding, that I felt bad marking it up.

Regardless, Kauffman’s is a real message. Partially Quixotic, partially crucial . . . and there’s considerable overlap between those. I don’t know if the passages reproduced here will convey the deep current under Kauffman’s light-skipping prose, but I hope they do. If not, buy the book. You won’t be disappointed. Kauffman’s display of his prodigious vocabulary alone is worth the price.


I’m pretty sure Kauffman has the biggest vocabulary since Samuel Johnson.

Unique words found in Look Homeward, America:

  • mottle
  • pavid
  • bumptious
  • martinet
  • scarify
  • nonce
  • terrene
  • descant
  • manque
  • phiz
  • clochard

Select Passages

Here are choice passages from the books, with my commentary where I think it might be entertaining and/or useful.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a pithy and fun biography. It’s packed with entertaining facts that paint a vivid picture: “The guru of the libertarian paleos, the combative economist and joyful iconoclast Murray Rothbard, was a gnomic 5’3” nonbelieving Jew who adored cathedrals; championed the Black Panthers while also Read the rest

Seven Days Make One Weak

The Left goes left, Taibbi, investments

I’ve noticed something lately: The liberals I opposed in my youth are the thinkers I enjoy the most these days.

I was born conservative. Not Alex Keaton conservative, but definitely on the Right and far more politically interested than my peers.

As a student at the University of Michigan and Notre Dame, I always found myself to the right of my acquaintances, often uncomfortably so.

But now, 30 years later? Those old liberals and I have moved closer together.

I no doubt drifted a bit to the Left. Although my history studies and innate conservatism initiated my interest in converting to Catholicism, once I joined the Church, I adopted a worldview and faith that tempered my more conservative instincts.

But I was still a JPII convert, which means I have remained conservative.

So I’ve concluded those liberals from my youth have drifted to the Right, which would be normal. People get more conservative as they get older, especially once they have kids and realize that it’s a beautiful world that doesn’t need to be torn down by a centralized state to create a world you’d prefer. When you hold that baby, you think, “This is alright. Right here, right now.” And at that moment, your mental landscape shifts to the Right.

Liberalism is discontent with present moment. Conservatism is contentment with the present moment. That’s why liberalism wants to change things and conservatives want to keep them the same. It doesn’t make one correct and one wrong. It’s just the way things are.

It also means that those self-identified “Lefties” in their 50s are beginning to think more like me. They’re still Leftists, but they have sensibilities more like mine. I’m talking about folks like Bill Burr, Joe Rogan, and Matt Taibbi.

These guys … Read the rest