September 30, 2022
The Art of Ghosting
If you think I've written about this topic before, you're not wrong.
September 29, 2022
TDE Needs it for 3.0 . . . Apparently
Click here to subscribe to TDE. If you do, you'll get an email when I publish the Monday column, plus occasional emails at other times (maybe ten emails per month, maximum, I'm guessing). I'll never sell your email address, there's no charge, etc. etc. etc. You will not get an email every time I post to this (the Scrolling Blog).
From what I gather, it's important for TDE to have a vibrant subscriber list when the web goes 3.0, so I guess I need to start pushing a bit. Your subscription is greatly appreciated, even if, due to my limited tech knowledge, I'm not entirely clear on why it should be appreciated.
Funny article at Medium.com, if you like LoTR and the movie version (let's be clear: Peter Jackson's, not the debacle that is the Rings of Power). The obvious absurdity of it didn't occur to me until later. I was just like, "How could Tolkien have anticipated what Peter Jackson would depict and . . . . ????" I like to think it's one of the few times humor has escaped me.
The amiable devoted friend we know as Samwise Gamgee was also supposedly based on someone of an altogether different character, one Samuel Wiseman, who was a line supervisor, a drunk, gambler, and an all-around lout by all accounts.
September 28, 2022
Effective altruism might be the most insidious do-gooder scheme of all time. Erik Hoel explores the reasons.
I assume everyone saw that Chesterton is back in the news due to the ascendency of this "far right" (Fascist) new Italian PM and her speech that quotes him. "Far right" to the media is anyone who holds values that pre-date 2009. In any event, if you're curious about where the GKC quote came from, it's from Heretics. It's one of the best passages in a great book.
“Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed. Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion. And the scepticism of our time does not really destroy the beliefs, rather it creates them; gives them their limits and their plain and defiant shape. We who are Liberals once held Liberalism lightly as a truism. Now it has been disputed, and we hold it fiercely as a faith. We who believe in patriotism once thought patriotism to be reasonable, and thought little more about it. Now we know it to be unreasonable, and know it to be right. We who are Christians never knew the great philosophic common sense which inheres in that mystery until the anti-Christian writers pointed it out to us. The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.”
September 27, 2022
This low-brow essay kinda got away from me.
September 26, 2022
September 25, 2022
Butternut Rogosa Violina “Gioia” Squash . . . and My Grandson
I got three of these massive butternut squash this year. I have one more in the field still, but it's fairly small and still weeks from harvest Usually, massive produce lacks flavor, but these are supposedly delicious.
Effective Altruism is Moral Mathematics
I've instinctively recoiled against the Effective Altruism movement, but I never looked into it much so never tried to figure out why I recoiled. I think this piece explains the problem with EA and why I recoil: It's an endeavor that denies the Tao. It's an effort to establish morality by reference to the right two-thirds of The Reality Spectrum, wholly cut off from the left third (the region of the Tao). It is the "mathematicism" of Descartes that Gilson explained in The Unity of Philosophical Experience. It is a wholly left hemisphere effort as described by Iain McGilchrist in The Master and His Emissary. It's no wonder that billionaires, especially of the Silicon Valley stripe, have flocked to it. As a group, they are intensely stilted, crowding their existence into the right two-thirds of reality and into the left hemisphere.
That, anyway, is my take at this point. I'm clearly no expert, but Professor Setiya is. I suspect he's a guy worth listening to, so I will.
September 24, 2022
Seen at Reddit
We need to send President Obama over there to say, "You didn't build that."
Two especially good pieces at Medium.com this week.
September 23, 2022
Drink Gin, Help Pollinators
"Bee’s Knees Week has grown into the largest sustainability initiative in the spirits industry, bringing together a passionate community of environmental stewards and cocktail enthusiasts. . . Together, we can drink the best and save the bees!" Link.
I surfed the website for about five minutes, but I can't figure out what it's all about. The best I can figure is, Bee's Knees Week is a promo for Bar Hill, which makes gin and vodka from honey. The more Bar Hill you drink, the more honey they need, so the more bees they keep.
Conflation of the sanctimonious and commerce, but hey, we need more bees, so I hope they do well.
September 22, 2022
Happy Hobbit Day
I didn't even know there was such a thing but this flier hangs at Hillsdale College.
According to the Google Machine, Bilbo and Frodo were both born on September 22nd. But I also read that this is the 85th Hobbit Day, so I was confused, until I realized that 2022 is 85 years from 1937: the year The Hobbit was published.
September 21, 2022
Maniacal Observations from GKC
(With an assist from Iain McGilchrist)
September 20, 2022
Chicago in Trouble
I've always considered myself a Detroit guy instead of a Chicago one, even though I've always lived closer to Chicago (except for the five years I lived in Detroit). Detroit has always been the ugly cousin to Chicago, but I think Detroit might have a brighter future. Did anyone notice Detroit didn't riot with BLM? Anyone else notice that its crime rate isn't skyrocketing? I don't know why, but I suspect it's because Detroit has long looked down the barrel of the urban abyss and knows it's nothing to toy with. It's a lesson that other urban areas like Chicago are just beginning to understand.
September 19, 2022
September 18, 2022
Steinbeck's Travels with Charley
I've never been a Steinbeck fan, but then again, I've only read Of Mice and Men (because I thought I should expose myself to Steinbeck and it was really short), so I can't claim to be an authority. I also like Maine, though, like my exposure to Steinbeck, I've only been there once, where I spent a splendid November evening in Portland, which might be the most under-rated cold pot (as opposed to "hot spot") in America.
Anyway, in this nice essay, Howard Fishman visits Deer Isle, where Steinbeck began his book about driving across America with his dog: “If Travels With Charley tells us anything, it’s to disregard the obvious, to seek out the unexpected, to remain curious, to follow our gut.”
September 17, 2022
A TDE reader complained about that football rivalry list. It got me thinking about it. I put my thoughts down in this little essay.
September 16, 2022
Fodder for Your Bar Arguments Tonight.
I'll get started: Utah-BYU? No USC-ND?
RIP: Founder of Two-Buck Chuck
Fred Franzia, the founder of Charles Shaw brand, died. Fred was the son of the man who brought us the famous Franzia box wine, but that brand was sold to Coca-Cola years before Fred started the company that would bring us good bottles of wine for just $2.
I've drank a lot of Chuck over the years. I agree with the critics, who had to concede that it's pretty good wine. Not syrupy, like other cheap wines. If you speak Oenophilist, you'd say it's "fruit forward," "approachable," and "complex." I just like it.
Celebrating it tonight with this interloper
September 15, 2022
Illegal Cannabis Farms Terrorize Rural CA Communities
A TDE reader sends this along.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016 came with the promise that regulating weed sales would cripple the black market and bring in significant revenue for the state. However, the illegal market has grown to an unprecedented level and spurred a new wave of organized crime, violence, environmental destruction, worker exploitation, and deaths. The illicit market has also crippled California cannabis growers.
The article, unfortunately, provides neither analysis nor theory about why this is happening. I'm guessing it's a dynamic that drove the crime and death described in Netflix's Murder Mountain: there was already an ensconced cultivation economy that had been there for years, the growing conditions are great, high taxation on marijuana continues to make illegal marijuana lucrative, and high regulatory barriers to entry require small growers to do it illegally.
September 14, 2022
In the September 1923 issue of The Adelphi, the biographer Hesketh Pearson published what appeared to be a verbatim report of a private quarrel between Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw. (Shaw: "Have you any adequate excuse for not being drunk?") In fact it was entirely Pearson's invention. It delighted Chesterton anyway and he told Pearson that he ought to write his next book for him. However, the transcript was thought to be authentic by most readers, and to this day it is accepted and often quoted by Chesterton scholars. [Ian Hunter, Nothing to Repent, London: 1987, p. 94]
September 13, 2022
The Anglican Race War
It appears the Anglican Church is marginalizing its black bishops, which is awkward since its black bishops lead the biggest and most vibrant congregations out of Africa. The reason? The black bishops refuse to square the homosexual square with the Gospel circle.
It's been an issue for decades. I remember Richard John Neuhaus writing in First Things about it back in the 1990s. Fr. Neuhaus quoted an English divine saying something to the effect that African theology simply isn't developed enough. Fr. Neuhaus observed that the good bishop was suggesting the Africans were still swinging from vines until recently.
If not racist, it's at least colonialist, in all the senses that should make those enlightened American and British bishops squirm, but they seem quite comfortable with it. Homosexuality, after all, is the western church's new religion.
It reminds me of the joke that went around after openly gay Gene Robinson was made an Episcopalian bishop.
Q: Why are Episcopalians bad at chess?
A: They can't tell their bishops from their queens.
September 12, 2022
You can listen to it here, though I'll have to admit: It's a bit rough. I had a lot of social/family commitments this past 10 days that put me behind. When I do these podcasts, I work off the essay, mostly reading but also extrapolating a bit. In this episode, I discovered my "finished" product still needed a lot of work. So, the written essay is fine, but this podcast? A little rough.
September 11, 2022
September 10, 2022
The Hillybilly Thomists
I'd Spotify this.
The jilted protagonist has been "living off of grits, whiskey and Moon Pies." His man cave offers no refuge: "A hundred channels of nothing on the TV at 10. It's like Diet Coke and original sin. … Now it's a zombie town, there's a lot of undead. They wander around looking underfed."
But the chorus offers hope: "He makes a rich man poor; He makes a weak man strong. No more going wrong just to get along. I felt the force of the truth when they pierced His side. I saw the war eagle dive and I could not hide."
It wouldn't shock old-school country fans if this was a Johnny Cash song. But it was written by a banjo-playing Dominican from Georgia who has an Oxford theology doctorate and now leads the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Writing to the National Reso-Phonic Company, Father Thomas Joseph White said he likes to play this classic blues guitar "in my office looking out at the Roman Forum that's 2,700 years-old."
That makes sense in the Hillbilly Thomists, a "musical collective" of Dominicans, most of whom have Bible-belt roots. The band recently staged a concert in the Grand Ole Opry and, over the past decade, has recorded three albums of music that would sound at home at Appalachian fairs, but not in most church halls.
September 9, 2022
Cucumbers and gin. My new thing.
At least until the cucumbers stop entirely in a week or two.
September 8, 2022
The Rings of Anguish
Marie threw in the towel last night with Episode 2. And about five minutes later, I did too.
It's simply awful.
The mind boggles. It'd be like George Steinbrenner paying football players huge sums to make the Yankees great again. Amazon wanted to make a great Tolkien series and was willing to pay a billion dollars to make it happen . . . but it wanted to get away from Tolkien. I simply don't get it.
I look forward to watching the Netflix docuseries about this colossal flop. I'm really curious to learn how this happened.
September 7, 2022
The Wall Street Journal ran a Labor Day meditation revolving around the life and thought of Simone Weil and Ludwig Wittgenstein. It's worth reading any day of the year. I'm not sure the meditation reaches a specific conclusion, but it pokes in the right places: the sacramental ones. "For both these thinkers, it is a duty to use our minds and hands together."
September 6, 2022
Bring on the Slop
I keep hearing the same advice: Limit your tasks to a set time. Cal Newport, Kevin Majeres, Tom Woods, Michael Malice, and most recently, Cale Clarke at Relevant Radio. If you don't, you'll fall victim to Parkinson's Law.
I'm going to take heed of Parkinson's and start limiting my tasks to set times, starting with low-brow essays. You'll see the product here at least once a week, starting with today's fruit of the process. Enjoy.
September 5, 2022
Happy Labor Day
And the Weekly Column
A continuing look at the effects of Descartes' philosophy.
September 3, 2022
Probably the Best Piece of the Past Few Weeks
The blue-collar opinion writer at Newsweek(!) is hot under the collar about student loan forgiveness.
The progressive approach seems to be telling folks that didn't take out student loans or folks that struggled to pay off their student loans or those of their kids that it would benefit us and make our lives better if taxpayers all banded together to pay off the student loans of the elites.
September 2, 2022
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot of Melancholy
Another hectic summer nears close. All of my kids are out of the house, except one and she's tied up most nights with school activities and sports.
This time of year always brings sweet melancholy, much like the time right around high school graduation. You know the feeling, "Ah, dang. I'm clocking through life quickly." Which then leads to, "Ah, dang. Is this all my life is?" Which leads to, "Ah, dang. I'm gonna have a drink and savor it, no matter what 'it' is."
I can't say I drink much these days. Part of it is my fight with weight: I've dropped almost 30 pounds over the past three years (200 to 172) and don't want to go back to Lardsville. Part of it is that middle-aged thing: drinking is hard, and it gets harder as you get older. The costs are deceptively huge: the price of the alcohol, the time spent intoxicated, the time spent recovering.
It's that last one that has gotten tough over the past couple of years. The hangovers don't "hurt more than they used to" (Hank Williams, Jr.), but the tired feeling is more intense, leaving me lagging for an entire day afterwards, which is resented as my time in this valley of tears wanes. And then there are the health problems that have to be addressed, from flare ups of skin eczema to dehydration to concerns about one's cognitive health.
And all that, of course, reminds me that I'm clocking through life quickly.
Sweet melancholy. Dang.
Oh well. I still believe drinking is a good. The best things in life might be free, but most things worthwhile have their costs. I'd encourage all of us to bear those costs and unwind this evening with a few drinks and the first smells of autumn.
Episode I of LoTR: Awful
Wow. I watched the first episode and part of the second episode last night. I'm afraid the Tolkien Estate ought to be ashamed of itself. The series is full-on Hobbit movie. Galadriel the warrior princess, black high elves, main characters that were never even mentioned in Tolkien's corpus.
On top of that, I don't think they're even following the Tolkien chronology: First Age, Second Age, Third Age (and Fourth Age). The promotional materials implied that the Numenoreans would loom large in the series, which means Second Age, but the series appears to take place in the Third Age (they've introduced hobbits ("harfoots") and, I think, Gandalf, both of which first make their appearance in the Third Age). The overall story, however, indicates that they have, indeed, started at the beginning of the Second Age (e.g., the elves safeguard Middle Earth, which would've been the case in the early Second Age, not the kingdoms of men (Arnor and Gondor), which would've been the case in the early Third Age, but then again, there has been no mention of Numenor at all, whose story drove the entire Tolkien narrative of the Second Age.
Anyway, I think it's safe to say this series was inspired by Tolkien's work, but it's going to be something else entirely. Perhaps it'll be fun to tease out the Tolkien narrative where possible, kinda like trying to figure out where Route 66 ran in areas replaced by the freeway. Very sad.
September 1, 2022
It's not too often I read a good essay at America magazine, but this one about the Inklings is timely and worthwhile.
More on that Tarot Card Artist
Can be found here. Excerpt:
In 1911, Pixie Smith converted to Roman Catholicism. From this time forward, her relationship with most of her former friends seems to have deteriorated, particularly those who were members of the Golden Dawn. One of her old friends from the Yeats family was Susan Mary "Lily" Yeats (1866-1949), a younger sister of William Butler Yeats. In a letter written to her father, on 18 June 1913, she mentions Pixie Smith with the following words:
... I stayed with Pixie in London, ... Pixie is as delightful as ever and has a big-roomed flat near Victoria Station with black walls and orange curtains. She is now an ardent and pious Roman Catholic, which has added to her happiness but taken from her friends. She now has the dullest of friends, selected entirely because they are R.C., converts most of them, half educated people, who want to see both eyes in a profile drawing. She goes to confession every Saturday - except the week I was there - she couldn't think of any sins, so my influence must have been very holy. I heard the other day of a priest who said that confessing nuns was like being eaten alive by ducks.