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Scrolling Blog: August 2022

The original TDE blog format. Stacked, sundry, and short for swift scanning since 2004.

Photo by Jeb Buchman / Unsplash

August 31, 2022

Slayed Me


The Amazon series starts tomorrow (well, midnight on Friday). I'm pretty stoked, but I was also stoked for the three-part Hobbit movie, and it was so bad, that I never bothered to watch the third. The Amazon series looks like it's going Hobbit. I can't make sense of the trailers, including its tagline (something like "We each need to choose who we will be" . . . or some such thing, which could be either deeply Tolkienesque or downright New Agee . . . impossible to say).

I'm also flummoxed by the female warrior who appears to be the main character. When I saw the trailers, I was like, "Who is that?" It turns out, it's Galadriel. Ah, okay. She was feisty; she was powerful . . . but she was no warrior. She fought against Sauron, yes, and Queen Isabella fought against the Moors, but neither of them, to the best of my knowledge, donned the armor. Such a thing is deeply un-medieval and deeply un-Tolkien. It could occur (Joan of Arc; Eowyn), but it was extraordinarily rare and I can't think of any medieval queen who yielded a sword. If that's the turn this series is going to take, I suspect I won't be watching by the end of the first season.

Part of me thinks Amazon is intentionally poisoning the trailers in order to increase the fever. Tolkien fans have been reassured constantly that the Tolkien estate kept tight control over the story to make sure it remained true to JRR's narrative. Maybe Amazon is stoking controversy with these trailers, rather than portraying what the series will really be like.

A guy can hope.

She Designed the Iconic Tarot Deck, but No One Has Heard of Her

Her art is on display right now at The Whitney in NYC. Artnet recently ran a fairly extensive essay about her, which eventually admits she went Shia at age 32:

Following the publication of the deck, Smith grew increasingly interested in Irish mythology, and in 1911, she made illustrations for Bram Stoker’s final book, Lair of the White Worm. But soon enough, Smith withdrew from the art world. That same year, she converted to Catholicism and with a small inheritance purchased a home in Bude, England.
There she would devote herself more fully to causes like women’s suffrage and the Red Cross. She would die at age 73 in Bude, all but penniless. “It was her decision. She just exited the art world,” Haskell said.

Her Wikipedia entry says that, for income, she established a vacation home for priests. Based on an Amazon review of a book collection of her art, Colman was pretty freakin' devout.

And no one has heard of her. It's probably mostly because of her conversion and self-exile from the art world, but her embarrassing conversion probably didn't help matters.

August 30, 2022


Here's a great passage from a Joseph Epstein essay about his days at the University of Chicago ("where fun went to die") in the 1950s:

The most recent issue of The Lamp ran a great essay about Chicago and all its holy spots (subscription required). I've been to Chicago more times than I can count (though I live in Michigan, I'm closer to the Windy City than Detroit, plus I lived an hour from Chicago while attending Notre Dame), but I'm not sure I ever noticed any of them.

Our Lady of Chicago
By Matthew Milliner, The Lamp

August 29, 2022

Fascist Gardeners

The gardening world is full of patriarchal terms. The Guardian rings the alarm.

The piece is scarcely worth reading. I think I've told you everything you need to know about it. I almost didn't even post to it, but it's so rare that two TDE areas of interest--gardening and the woke--intersect. I couldn't let it go without a brief comment.

Weekly Column

When Western Civilization Submitted Itself to a Lobotomy
Descartes’ dualism was obviously wrong, but it won over western civilization.

Listen here

When Western Civilization Submitted Itself to a Lobotomy — The Weekly Eudemon
<p>The Weekly Eudemon Podcast</p>

August 28, 2022

The Annual U.S. 12 Gouge Sale

Southern Michigan had a new tradition crop up about 20 years ago: The US 12 garage sales.

I like it because it's organic: started by a group of people who live on or near US 12 and it just grew and grew. But man, it brings in the sloths and derelicts, who don't seem to appreciate that they're parking on, walking across, and in general hanging out on a 55-mph highway. I'm surprised no one has been killed.

My wife tells me it's still vigorous but sellers are taking advantage of the crowds. She said some people might as well be defecating in a bag and tagging it "$5." Her Exhibit A: These "vintage chairs" that an enterprising soul was letting go for just $50.

August 27, 2022

X-Files Actor is Apparently Cranking Out Some Incredible Fiction

This reviewer at City Journal thinks David Duchovny may have just published a modern classic. This passage specifically grabbed me:

Duchovny’s story is rare in revealing how our ego is really a body ego. Martin Luther may have been spurred to reform Christianity by terrible constipation. (A few prunes may have spared Europe centuries of religious wars.) But most of us, when our body is distressed, are not as acute as we normally are.

Like any good Catholic, I immediately thought, "Ah, yes. A sacramental view of the body. A complete rejection of the Cartesian dualism that lobotomized the modern mind! And his name is pretty ethnic, eastern European-sounding. I found myself another closet Catholic!"

Well, almost. According to his Wikipedia entry, he's Jewish and Lutheran. "Jew or Not a Jew" says he's a "Borderline Jew." He apparently refers to himself as a "fake Zen Buddhist" (which I can sympathize with: I've played one of those, too).

He reportedly once received treatment for sex addiction, which plays harshly against the Zen Buddhism thing, but maybe his is just a really sharp Cartesian dualism between body and soul that tries to serve (slavishly) two masters . . . or maybe a monism that washes out all distinction between body and soul, which can also result in a type of antinomianism. Needless to say, it's impossible to say, but it's interesting to speculate about all the ways an improper view of existence can veer into serious trouble really fast.

Oh well. We got Shia. Maybe we can get David.

Speaking of Shia, I'm fascinated to see how this conversion plays out. Right out of the gate, he seems solid. He's facing his unfortunate past without publicly wallowing in it. Denial of things he did or media-saturated lamentations, would both point toward a continuing self-absorption (and trust me, I know a lot about self-absorption). I'm not seeing either. We'll see.

Child Number Six: Gone

We too Max to Ann Arbor yesterday. I'm always stunned at how exhausting the move-in procedure is. I've had some terribly difficult Freshman move-ins over the years, but yesterday wasn't one of them. It was tedious, with a lot of minor frustrations, but it wasn't physically or intellectually demanding. It didn't matter. I was exhausted.

Even though Max lives on the far east edge of campus, I wasn't too exhausted to visit my old haunts west of campus, including the most-excellent Dawn Treader Used Book Store. They've managed to keep their books at reasonable prices. I snagged these:

The Studies in Classic American Literature by D.H. Lawrence is, well, a classic. I've blogged about it many times. This copy is fairly marked up, but I got a great price on it. I'll give it to whichever of my children asks for it first. We'll see if they're reading TDE closely.

August 26, 2022

Moderate Drinking Addles Your Brain?

What Alcohol Does to Your Body, Brain & Health
In this episode, I discuss the physiological effects that drinking alcohol has on the brain and body at different levels of consumption and over time.

Andrew Huberman lays out a ton of information in this recent podcast. I haven't gotten through all of it yet, but the first part repeatedly touches on the cognitive effects of moderate drinking.

Moderate drinking, he emphasizes repeatedly, is one to two drinks per night on average. If you abstain all week but then have seven drinks on Friday night (my inclination, though not quite seven), you drink a moderate amount. If you have two glasses of wine every night after work, you drink moderately. At one point, he even refers to just "six drinks" per week as "moderate."

And why does it matter? It appears a major new study has come out that says "moderate" drinking has pretty serious consequences for your long-term cognitive health, and the adverse effects are not remotely off-set by any positive effects.

It kinda bummed me out, though, truth be told, I'm definitely in the "under-seven-per-week" camp these days and have been for many years.  

Russian Gas Shortage = Fewer Beer Bottles for Europe

The interruption in gas supply from Russia to Europe will hurt the beer companies. They can continue to brew beer, but they won't have enough bottles to put it in. I guess glass companies require gas because it heats furnaces at the high temperatures that glass requires to melt. Without gas, bottle production will fall. European beer drinkers apparently sneer at beer cans and I gotta believe hate those biodegradable paper cans (though there are few PC things a European doesn't love), so I'm not sure what they'll do. Wall Street Journal link.

Great Gin Pic This Morning

Duke’s Martini @ Hotel Chelsea, NYC from Gin

August 25, 2022

Swedish General Election

Here's a nifty fact-filled article about the situation in Sweden right now. I didn't even know there was a situation in Sweden right now. I feel all caught-up now, though.

The Swedish General Election 2022 Is Coming Up…
In about one month, Sweden is holding its general election

My two-year-old granddaughter came for a visit last Sunday. I took her around the garden to spot pumpkins under the big leaves. She was really into it, barking out the colors: yellow, orange, white. We then came across this one:

I could've explained, "Well, these plants are vigorous. They outgrew the space I allotted to them, so now the vines are climbing the fence." Instead, I just said, "That pumpkin is in the air! Whatta silly pumpkin." Her confused look never changed.

Whence Wokeness?

I think I could explain the intellectual foundations, such as they are, of wokeness, but there's obviously something more afoot than just the history of ideas. This writer offers other explanations.

Where Did Wokeness Come From?
By Theodore KupferCity Journal

My son and his niece (my granddaughter)

August 24, 2022

November is Coming Quickly

TDE tries to avoid politics, but the Biden administration's latest stunt is a significant step down the path of promoting the chump society and denial of the effects of moral hazard. It's very big deal, all in an effort to buy votes and give money to the upper-middle class surbanites who have turned into his voter base.

Economist Don Boudreaux summarizes it best:

While it’s considered to be appalling to buy votes using your own money, it’s considered to be downright angelic to buy votes using other-people’s money.

A Funny Little Video About Small Talk

TDE readers know I've long struggled with small talk. See the July 24th Scrolling Blog Entry. This video, however, seems to draw a too-harsh distinction between "small talk" and "deep talk." I don't think I've ever minded "small talk," in the sense this video uses it: superficial, polite, and brief. I also don't mind the deep conversation, though I admittedly have those almost exclusively when I'm drinking. I think it's the intermediate discussion that grates on me: mildly involved, often impolitely ejaculatory with both sides trying to talk, and lengthy. And heck, I don't even mind the intermediate, as long as the time is set aside for it, like perhaps a non-drinking family gathering or a service club lunch. It's when someone wants an intermediate discussion in the middle of the work day or when I'm in the middle of doing something else that I get antsy.

Oh well. It's a topic for another time. For now, the 4-minute video is funny and worth watching.

GKC Wednesday

GKC founded and edited the New Witness, which Osbert Sitwell referred to as “a queer bastard socialist-ultra-Conservative paper.”

But Osbert was kind of a dick. Kipling didn’t like him. Siegfried Sassoon openly denounced him in the Spectator: “How drearily O.S. wastes his time and talent with sterile spitefulness directed at authors who don’t admire him and his family.” The great translator, Scott Moncrieff, directed his most acerbic attacks at the Sitwell family, including Osbert. Jean Findley said that the Sitwells “regarded a failure to admire their poetry as an affront to their aristocratic status.” F.R. Leavis, anticipating the Kardashians, said the Sitwells really belonged in “the history of publicity.” T.S. Eliot referred to them as “the Shitwells.”

It should be noted that Osbert apparently had redeeming qualities. When his sister, Edith, converted to Catholicism, which was often an occasion of opprobrium for proper English families, Osbert was supportive.


Speaking of Scott Moncrieff, Virginia Woolf said that reading his translation of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past was “akin to a sexual experience.”

August 23, 2022

I latch onto Flannery O'Connor sightings like Chestertonians latch onto GKC sightings. This one is pretty good: "Flannery O'Connor on Sin and Politics." The gist of the essay boils down to Albert Jay Nock's response when asked what he would improve about society. He said he'd improve himself.

The progressive, of course, doesn't look to reform herself. She finds her unhappiness in the world: the culture, the construct, the favored half of the binary, whatever. It is, I believe, the primary thing that separates the liberal from the true conservative. When I meet a liberal who is also aware that she is deeply flawed and needs to work on herself, I listen to what she has to say. She might be mistaken in her political philosophy, but she at least grasps one deep truth: we're all flawed. This makes her worth my attention. Likewise, when I meet a conservative who places all the blame on liberals, I don't listen to what he has to say. He (or his rhetoric) is missing that first deep truth.

Flannery O’Connor on Sin and Politics
By Darrell FalconburgFrom The Imaginative Conservative

August 22, 2022

Weekly Column

Descartes Praised Lycurgus. It’s Our Earliest Glimpse of the Problem with Modernist Thinking
There’s a direct line between Descartes’ admiration for Lycurgus and modernity’s parade of love affairs with strong leaders who would use rationality to impose their subjective reality on the world.


August 21, 2022

Unauthorized LoTR

I learned at Reddit today that there was a fairly robust market for unauthorized versions of Lord of the Rings.I guess the "Ace" versions are unauthorized and they have a pretty interesting history, starting with Tolkien's observation that he would never let his books appear in paperback, which he considered "degenerate." Story is here.

Picked up for $2 each from bookhaul

Ayaan Hirsi Ali doubles down on her defiance of the Jihadists. She draws a distinction between "Islamism" and "Islam," and I suppose she's right to draw a distinction, but in general, I find her a bit too sympathetic to Islam itself. I understand why she's sympathetic, but still too sympathetic. I'd be more inclined to a Bellocian analysis and would replace "Islamism" with "Islam" and "Islamists" with "Muslims" in the passage below, though if I did that, I'd curb the rhetoric a bit.

The fatwa is timeless. It won’t die with Khomeini. It is eternal. This is why, when it comes to fighting Islamism, the Western tools of diplomacy and reason are useless. We are faced with an enemy that never gives up, who thinks in terms of centuries rather than months or years, and who will wait patiently for an opportunity to strike. Only by understanding these different conceptions of civilisation can we begin to undo the damage wrought by the Iranian regime and other Islamists across the world.
The Infidels Will Not be Silenced
By Ayaan Hirsi Ali From Unherd

August 20, 2022

The World of Credentialing

Enjoyable conversation between economists Russ Roberts and Tyler Cowen.

Tyler Cowen on Talent - Econlib
How do you hone your craft on an everyday basis? It could be writing, meeting with experts, even listening to podcasts, just so long, argues economist and blogger Tyler Cowen, as it makes you better at what you already do. Perhaps more than anything else, he believes, it’s practice that divides midd…

About midway through, they discuss a serious problem with the U.S. economy: institutions requiring a college degree.

There are so many just ordinary jobs where you have to have a college degree, and it makes no sense. The State of Maryland, fortunately, has started abolishing those requirements. But most other groups have not.
And, it's a barrier to minorities, that can be a barrier to women who had children earlier, who had children at the wrong time, or who left school to raise families. And, it's one of the worst things we do in American society.
And, my father, for instance, ended up being quite successful, running a chamber of commerce. He didn't have a college degree. That is no longer possible in today's world.

Russ Roberts then speculates that it's just an informational shortcut: If someone has a degree, they're more likely to have "something" valuable inside of them, so you require it, even though such a requirement really makes no sense.

Roberts might be right. I incline more toward the tin-hat theory that Big Education expects Big Business to require degrees, so Big Education can try to justify its exorbitant cost. I have no idea if it's a conscious thing. Heck, I'm not even sure it's a thing at all. It's just my general hunch of how the elite operates in general. If a large corporation stopped requiring a degree, I gotta believe the CEO would get an earful from some university president during the next round of golf or cocktail party.  


I've long been a fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival, but I never knew much about them. The information about CCR in this New Yorker essay exceeds my total CCR bank of knowledge by a factor of about, oh, 92.

I was bummed to learn that CCR came from the Bay Area. I woulda thought they came from the swamps of Florida or something, like Tom Petty. The Bay Area? With that twang? I felt like I did when I learned The Eagles weren't from Arizona, but rather, were a group assembled, American-Idol-like, from local LA musicians.

They were considered "squares," the "Boy Scouts of Rock and Roll"? Fogerty projected “intelligence and moderation,” rather than, for instance, “freakiness, messianism, sex, violence.” I had no idea.

Regardless, the writer predicts that CCR's popularity is going to rise. Its Old Testament messianism will strike a chord with the current milieu. We'll see.

The Creedence Clearwater Revival Revival
From The New Yorker

August 19, 2022

DFW Quote

A TDE reader sends this along:

I love this quote by Wallace. I loved the movie about him, too. His books always rubbed me the wrong way though. But this quote is good!

“Irony and cynicism were just what the U.S. hypocrisy of the fifties and sixties called for. That’s what made the early postmodernists great artists. The great thing about irony is that it splits things apart, gets up above them so we can see the flaws and hypocrisies and duplicates. The virtuous always triumph? Ward Cleaver is the prototypical fifties father? “Sure.” Sarcasm, parody, absurdism and irony are great ways to strip off stuff’s mask and show the unpleasant reality behind it. The problem is that once the rules of art are debunked, and once the unpleasant realities the irony diagnoses are revealed and diagnosed, “then” what do we do? Irony’s useful for debunking illusions, but most of the illusion-debunking in the U.S. has now been done and redone. Once everybody knows that equality of opportunity is bunk and Mike Brady’s bunk and Just Say No is bunk, now what do we do? All we seem to want to do is keep ridiculing the stuff. Postmodern irony and cynicism’s become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what’s wrong, because they’ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.”

Ginnin Me at Reddit

I mentioned yesterday that I'm back on Reddit and enjoying it. It's probably a good fit for a guy with micro-obsessions: things that engage him, but don't take over his life. In my case, such micros run the gamut from gin to gardening to GKC. There's a "subreddit" for all of them.

The gin subreddit is surprisingly active. 40,000 members and lots of posts, most of them featuring pictures of gin. I realize it ain't Nobel Prise stuff, but I find it entertaining.

I also, unfortunately, find it "priming." When I see pics of Hendrick's bottles like these, I kinda fall into a dream state, such is the capitalist genius for marketing. I was surprised to learn, incidentally, that Hendrick's is a new player in the gin world, born in 1999. In its short life, it has grown into a huge brand.  

The hunt for Midsummer Solstice begins from Gin

August 18, 2022

Are you exhausted?

Alan Jacobs thinks it's because you're constantly responding to stimuli instead of doing meaningful things. "Institutions" (read: "the digital world") is constantly telling us what they can do for us, so instead of doing something, we just respond to them.

I don't know if he's right, but it rings true. I've recently, after an 8-year hiatus, started to use Reddit again. I'm enjoying it and it's not hard, but it bombards the user with a thousand possibilities at every moment. There's a feeling that there's a lot to be responded to and it needs to be responded to now. I don't perceive that it's exhausting, but I gotta admit: I've been feeling a lot more tired this week than normal (and that's a lot a pretty high bar!), for no apparent reason.

Anyway, Jacobs' piece is worth checking out. He invokes the spirit of Ivan Illich, a thinker I've always wanted to spend more time with.

Exhaustion: Causes, Treatment
By Alan Jacobs

BTW: If you want to see The Daily Eudemon Reddit page, here it is:

The Daily Eudemon (u/Sturgiseric) - Reddit
u/Sturgiseric: Pop culture, religion, history, literature, philosophy, humor, and drinking–usually from a Catholic perspective, but in a manner that …

August 17, 2022

Rosaries Are Flying Off the Shelves After ‘The Atlantic’ Article Suggests Link to ‘Extremism’
Online shops report a boost in sales this week.

The Rosary: Weapon of a Catholic Cyber-Militia

The Fall Harvest Hugelkulture

This is my hugelkulture. During the COVID lockdowns, I dug out a small area of my garden, about a foot under the surface. I tossed in a bunch of logs, food scraps, and miscellaneous other debris, then put the soil back on top. I framed it with logs and rocks, then added about a foot of finished compost, forest humus, and more soil.

I planted my favorite lettuce (Jester) there last spring, reaped three or so cuttings, and have now let it go to seed. The plan is to let lettuce re-seed itself into the hugelkulture, where the heat from the buried logs and debris will extend the fall season a bit, giving me lettuce into December (subject to early winter . . . I live in southern Michigan).

We'll see if it works.

August 16, 2022

Book Pic: The Folio Society

My Dad belonged to (subscribed to, bought from . . . not sure of details) the "Folio Society," back in the 1980s-1990s. When he died, I got a lot of his books. They're beautiful. Here are the best-looking ones in my inherited collection.

College Rejects

Kids aren't going to college . . . as much. Many still do, but in many states, the rates of high school graduates going straight to college have fallen about ten points. In Michigan, for example, from a high of 65% in 2016 to 54% in 2021.

I don't think such numbers are startling and should be dropping much more. College numbers continue to be forcefully propped up by employers who artificially require a degree even though almost everything most employees do is learned on the job (unless you're in the STEM). I think that's true even of lawyers (especially of lawyers, quite frankly).  

The encouraging thing is the reason the numbers are dropping: attitudes are changing. "Fewer than one in three adults now say a degree is worth the cost." There's "widespread and fast-growing skepticism" about college and the costs are simply ridiculous.

It's like climbing walls, world-class gyms, and copious amounts of alcohol and sex aren't enough anymore. Go figger.

Americans are Rejecting College in Record Numbers
From The Hechinger Report

August 15, 2022

Quote of the Day

A TDE reader asked me whether I read Cafe Hayek. I admitted that I was a regular CH reader but it had dropped off my radar screen somehow. I checked out the site this afternoon and ran across this quote:

The typical way the left argues for the state is to describe what economists in the 1850s thought markets would be like under monopoly or monopsony, and then compare that to a state run by angels. Link.

Slayed me. I've re-bookmarked CH and plan on visiting frequently from now on.

Added bonus: It's also one of the few blogs that still sport the true "stacked" post format, which I strongly prefer.

Weekly Column

A Cistercian monk in Austria writes eruditely about David Foster Wallace. He appears to embrace "The Bridge Option" when dealing with modernity: embracing postmodernity and premodernity . . . bypassing modernity.

This Monk Understands David Foster Wallace
And people who reject the unholy Trinity of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Progressivism.

You can listen to it, along with additional commentary (because I can't help myself) here

August 14, 2022

Archduke Eduard of Austria on Bond

Issue 11 of The Lamp contains an essay by Eduard Hapbsurg-Lothringen on James Bond. Yeah: A Catholic journal with an essay on James Bond. A descendant of the Hapsburg dynasty writing a paean to Ian Fleming.

I love it. The folks who ought to be pretentious are often the least pretentious. How many times have I admitted in these pages that I went through a Mickey Spillane period? I'm pretty sure the answer is "zero." I don't think I've even condescended to mention that I've read a handful of Bond novels . . . and greatly enjoyed them. Maybe I never mentioned it because I think I'm above such things.

But the Archduke? He's above being above such things. In fact, he celebrates Ian Fleming's Man with the Golden Gun, which is apparently his most-reviled novel.

The Man with the Golden Gun
From the Lamp

August 13, 2022

Bicycle Graveyards

This piece at The Guardian caught my eye: Why do so many bikes end up underwater? It turns out the waterways are [saturated, inundated, awash, flooded . . . I need a non-aquatic adjective to describe non-liquid things invading water] with bicycles. Thousands get dumped in waterways annually.

The Guardian dives deep (another aquatic metaphor, but it fits) into the problem to find out why and comes up with . . . nothing.

They offer two implausible explanations:

  1. Alcohol. People drunk ride home from the bar and topple in the river. Some drown, some swim to the shore but must let their bikes drown. There are also drunken antics: college kid leaves the bar at closing, walks by a bike, and throws it in the river for kicks. Both are plausible, but I have a hard time believing they account for the volume of bikes that prompted this investigative piece of journalism in the first place.
  2. Rage Against the Machine. Bike-sharing arrangements have flooded[!] the  world's big cities and the big cities are awash in bike-sharing bikes. The thing is, in order to use the app, you have to give up your privacy and people resent it. The resentment semi-consciously builds up and erupts: by people vandalizing the bikes or tossing them into the river. So it's kind of a Woodstock 1999 thing, which doesn't quite ring true for me.

It's probably a combination of things, including a third factor: we are a rich society and bikes, relative to our wealth, are pretty cheap. We're not careful when we dispose of them: we don't seek the pennies of scrap metal, we don't seek to sell them for cash. We just abandon them and they eventually end up at the bottom of a river, to be dredged out and scrapped by the government.

Why Do So Many Bikes End Up in Waterways?
From The Guardian

August 12, 2022


Beer Shortage?

Beer practically flows like water, but there's now less of it and it's getting more expensive, thanks to a carbon dioxide shortage.

It's stunning to see how government intervention shreds an economy in all sorts of unpredictable ways. The Co2 shortage started due to the lockdowns: Co2 is a byproduct of ethanol, so when people stopped driving in 2020, ethanol production plummeted, causing Co2 production to plummet . . . catalyzing a beer shortage two years later. No central planner could've anticipated such a thing and neither could the central planner wannabes.

Vodka Karma?

A brand of vodka is getting recalled: it might have shards of glass in it. It's a dill-flavored vodka. Yuck. Serve 'em right, I suppose.

Gin Flavors

TDE reactivated its Reddit account recently, mostly for kicks but also because Reddit readers come to TDE, so I figured I should go where the readers are. All my old "subreddits" were still saved in my profile, including the gin ones. I'm enjoying it. I've even learned that there's a pretty robust fanbase of "flavored" gins, which I'm pretty sure is just "flavored vodka." I know that's been a raging debate in the past: At what point do the "botanicals" overcome the juniper infusion? Gin is the sine qua non of gin. Gin without juniper is just vodka. Gin with only a little bit of juniper is . . . vodka or gin or something else? That's where the debate is.

Me? I prefer my gin with a dose of botanicals: New Amsterdam, Empress 1907 (my current favorite), Hendrick's.

August 11, 2022

T.S. Eliot was one of those writers who dominated his age. Russell Kirk said Eliot was to the early 20th century what Samuel Johnson was to the 18th century . . . or what Homer was to his age. Of course, when people determined he was Tory conservative, like Samuel Johnson (Satan was the first Whig), the knives came out: anti-Semitism, rough marriage, etc. But I guess the new definitive biography about him is kinder and balanced. The Wall Street Journal has a review-essay here, which provides this memorable quote from (the not-so Toryish-conservative) Virginia Woolf, who said Eliot was, “a religious soul: an unhappy man, a lonely very sensitive man, all wrapt up in fibres of self torture, doubt, conceit, desire for warmth & intimacy. And I’m very fond of him—like him in some of my reserves & subterfuges.” She also wrote to her sister: “Tom Eliot, whom I love, or could have loved, had we both been in the prime and not in the sere; how necessary do you think copulation is to friendship?” High praise indeed.

‘Eliot After “The Waste Land”’ Review: As Prufrock Grew Old
From The Wall Street Journal

August 10, 2022

GKC Wednesday

G.K. Chesterton was a leading character, and a surprisingly true-to-life one, in DC's award-winning comic book, The Sandman, numbers 10 through 16 (November 1989—June 1990).

The character returned to The Sandman in issue 39 (July 1992); and showed again for brief third and fourth turns in numbers 63 and 65 (September and December 1994). These later appearances were brief, unexciting, and devoid of apparent significance. The third ended with his violent, grisly, unfunny comic-book death.

Gilbert's final appearance came in the August 1995 issue, as he indignantly refused to permit Morpheus (the Sandman) to raise him from the dead!

DC Comics ended publication of The Sandman with issue number 75.

Getting a Dumbphone?

There's a pretty solid analysis in this Wired advice column about mastering one's addiction to the smartphone (you might need to get a subscription).

The old saw about addictions—that they are impossible to outsmart—applies doubly to smart technologies, which are engineered to be used compulsively and elude your most ingenious efforts to gain mastery over them.
Am I an Idiot for Wanting a Dumber Phone?
From Wired

August 9, 2022

I'm having a bit of trouble with the site this morning. Please forgive anomalies until I can figure out what's going on. I suspect it's just a faulty Internet connection on my end. The bleeping thing is making it really hard for me to stream my favorite fetish flicks.

To startled new TDE readers: TDE is nothing if not ironic.

To seasoned TDE readers: Please don't whisper to yourselves, "Well, it's nothing, at least."

August 8, 2022

Weekly Column

Jack Kerouac: The Tao on Steroids
Kerouac rejected The Great Rejection

You can listen to it here

Jack Kerouac: The Tao on Steroids by The Weekly Eudemon
He sat on his mother’s couch, smoking marijuana and watching the McCarthy hearings, cheering Tail Gunner Joe. He was 32 and it was 1954. In his 20s and the 1940s, he said he’d like to join his Russian comrades and fight against Fascism.He coined the term “Beat Generation” which became the proto-cou…
The TDE weekly column, with additional commentary

August 7, 2022

Remembering the President of the Oaklawn Improvement Association

Matthew Walther offers a remembrance of history's most-recent anti-Pope, who just died.

Pope Michael, RIP
From The Lamp

August 6, 2022

Seed Oils

Fear the rape . . . seed oil. I've been staying away from it for a few years now and I think it's making a huge difference in my cholesterol numbers.

Seed Oils and Bad Science
From The American Conservative

August 5, 2022


It’s Bourbon’s Turn
A few bourbon notes, infused with Walker Percy observations

August 4, 2022

Quitting or Getting Wise?

When is quitting a proper understanding of our finiteness and limitations, and when is it lazy? That's the question asked in this article about the chess master quitting. For the rest of us, I might add, "When is quitting a proper response to failure and when is it cowardice or lack of resolve?" Tough questions, those.

Did the Best Chess Player in the World Just Give Up?
From Christianity Today

August 3, 2022

GKC Wednesday

In a letter dated August 4, 1928, the Irish playwright Sean O'Casey mentioned the manuscript of a play written by G.K. Chesterton, with the title Tragic Women. According to O'Casey the play was written as a joke for some outfit called the Beaconsfield Club.

The manuscript is undoubtedly lost or it would have landed in the nets of Denis Conlin, whose tireless research provided the Chesterton Quarterly and Ignatius Press' Collected Works with so many similarly obscure Chesterton writings. [The Letters of Sean O'Casey, 1910--41, New York: Macmillan, 1975, p. 302]

Another College Keeping Costs Low

A new Catholic trades college in Ohio keeps the total cost of attendance at $15,000 annually, plus it pays students as they learn blue-collar trades. It's also dedicated to forming Catholic workers (not of the Socialist ilk, mind you; just blue collar guys who are dedicated Catholics).

Taking the Faith into the Trades
From The Washington Examiner

It seems more such alternatives are coming onboard. New College in Franklin, Tennessee, really seems to be onto something. This great books college is using host families to keep the cost below, I think, $10,000 per year.

I assume everyone knows the entire student loan debt debacle is Exhibit A of why big government doesn't work. Big Government and their cronies in Big Education, with the encouragement of Big Business (Hudge and Gudge and Sudge), arranged for massive educational grants and subsidies, thereby assuring that colleges and universities could splurge on expenses, and then also made student loans non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, creating a flood of loan money. It was the proverbial gas-and-fire arrangement. And now we have $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. There's no moral defense for now declaring it forgiven, but a case could be made for less drastic measures, like permitting student debt to be discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization (pay what you can for five years) or maybe enact a new bankruptcy chapter: Chapter 14, which allows people to pay what they can for, say, ten years.

August 2, 2022

Mary Harrington is Worth Watching

The "reactionary feminist" Mary Harrington put herself on my radar screen with this radar screed. She questions the modern world's "progress," throwing darts at industrial agriculture, Bill Gates, "castration cults," the WEF (a "trade union" for the "richest and most influential"), voluntary infertility, and a host of other individuals, groups, ideas, and circumstances . . . all the result of modernity, I believe she'd conclude. It's worth checking out. When time permits, I plan on reading it a second time and clicking more of her links, so much am I taken by this short essay.  

Progress has Given Way to Bubbling Madness
The WEF: a kind of trade union for the most wealthy and influential

August 1, 2022

Monday Column

A Rambling Column Resulting from a Bushwhacked Week
Ah, the life bushwhack. When I wore a younger man’s clothes, I thought the bushwhacks would go away. I’d get my seven kids out of constant-crisis mode (making sure they didn’t wander away, fall down the steps, or get eaten by a dog), then I could return

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