November 14, 2017

To Read Or Not To Read...

A friend gifted me with the book by Roger Stone titled The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.

My lack of desire to read this book is exceeded only by the speed of the decay and dissolution of the Republican party.

I decided that part of the issue is that I don't trust the author.  (The Washington Times calls it a swing and miss.) My friend replied, "what about the footnotes and citations in the book?" I said they can be made up. "Fake news" is something everybody appreciates now even if everyone points to a different set of fake news. One thing we can all agree on is that fake news exists.

I've decided to try to advance the cause of vetting and reading with the following decision tree flowchart (click to enlarge):

November 12, 2017

Lectionary Choices

It continues to fascinate me that the gospels pre-Vatican II (and in the Eastern church to this day) focus on Christ’s miracles while the post-Vatican II church gospels focus on moral instruction (like today’s parable of the ten virgins; the Traditional calendar meanwhile offers a miracle story). 

On the one hand I get why the New Mass lectionary appears to want to emphasize what we can do for Christ rather than what Christ can do for us (even if that can fringe into Pelagianism, and I know there’s nothing we can do for Christ in that as God he already has everything but...).

Perhaps the idea was that the miracle stories don’t give enough instruction, don’t provide the impetus towards change, which Vatican II was set on achieving. I’m sure there was a practical consideration: how does a miracle story relate to the person in the pew?  The story of the ten virgins - which focuses on us, not Jesus - is thus seen as more relatable. 

But as I get older, I’m beginning to think that the root of all evil is practicality. It’s practical in secular eyes to think that marriage shouldn’t last forever given increasing lifespans. Or that ending a life in pain, or a birth that would result in a life of poverty, is needful.

An unintended side effect of stripping the miracle stories, especially when combined with the crippling of the mystery of the mass by adding folk songs and removing the Latin, was to make it seem like Jesus Himself isn’t all that mysterious or powerful, which, of course, is the death of faith. 

I guess that the Vatican II church simply assumed that everyone was already aboard the train that viewed Jesus as mysterious and powerful and that now what was needed to teach the “block and tackling” of social justice. But the inspiration for social justice is ... the mystery and power of Jesus.  


November 06, 2017

The Rise of the Rabble-Rousers

Heard interesting comments from Jonah Goldberg on Bill Kristol show.

Seems a half a century ago a guy named Will Herberg foresaw our present political condition.  Writing in "The New Leader" in 1954, he said the Founding Fathers were as afraid of despotism as they were of direct democracy because they were close students of history and understood that direct democracy leads to despotism.  He said the demagogues of ancient Greece and Roman manipulated the crowd and Caesar and Pericles used the Forum and the Arena to rabble-rouse and exert their will on the elites, and the Founding Fathers were terrified of that -- they wanted deliberative democracy that was largely closed off.

But it was democratic in these were the legitimate representatives of the people, but then behind closed doors they could slowly and methodically think things through.

Herberg said there has always been rabble-rousers in the past but there was no means of doing it well technologically until radio came along and FDR became first modern effective rabble-rouser.  FDR’s fireside chats were used to launch these incredible public pressure campaigns against Congress: write letters, make phone calls, send telegrams in order to force Congress to exert my will.

Then Sen. Joe McCarthy comes along and there’s rabble-rousing on the right on the radio.   McCarthy had no serious ideas to do anything, just has the right enemies and aroused passions.  (Sound familiar?) Herberg said television was making it worse and that the early investigative hearings were basically TV shows.  Mass entertainment technology, he claimed, is siphoning off the deliberative aspects of politics and making it into rabble-rousing and entertainment.

November 03, 2017

Obligatory Hilton Head Trip Loggish

Sayonara, summer.







Saturday:  Off to Hilton Head! With dogs in tow - Max restless early and often. “Paced” in his seat, and was omni-alert. Luckily not much squeaking from him.

Listened to Brian Lamb interview Gorbachev biographer William Taubman. Man those C-Span interviews are like no other. Interesting, informative and never cloying. Lamb “wears well”.

11 hrs 45 min ride due to longish stops (Steph briefly lost trying to find bathroom in outdoor mall) and later Wendy’s drivethru was dog-slow. Within five minutes of arrival Max left a steaming dump on the wood floor, and Maris returned the favor with a dump in the upstairs bedroom. Oh joy. This despite having walked them several times along the way, including giving Max an opportunity just 30 minutes before getting to the house. Go figure.

Sunday:

No 9:30 Mass due it no longer being summer, so planned on 11:15. Let Max out of crate and within a minute he peed in three places (two downstairs and one upstairs). Needless to say he’s been keyed up and highly charged. Practically feral, with the manners of a black bear. Took him and Maris out for a walk, obviously closing the barn door after the horse was out.

Nice walk on warm, cloudy day around ritzy neighbor and then to beach. “Moody and atmospheric” is my best spin on the weather. Sometimes the weatherman is right. Got the gates up to keep the dogs secure on the back patio and pool area. Noise from pool filter is loud; “harmless white noise” is my best spin on it.

Love the look of that tall white book case that handsomely wraps around the corner. There’s something so gentlemanly about a tall bookcase with a sliding ladder. This room helped inspire our sunroom decor, both in the white shelving and the blue art objects.

*

Much entertained by Maris’s obsession with getting into the pool. She wanted to so much but was afraid, and so she circled it a couple dozen times and eventually made the big leap and got in the first step (about three inches in depth). Eventually she graduated to the second step, about a foot and a half in depth. Baby steps for "baby danger".

Later ran three miles with the dogs down through Sea Pines. Saw a couple gators, one a baby we scared away. Biker came by and said, “Looks like you’re working a lot harder than they are” and I verily assented.

Monday:

Woke up middle of the night with bad sore throat, probably due to a/c chill combined with fan. Hard jog likely contributed. Turned fan off and took zicam and it helped; by morning less pain. And I have an excuse for no workout today.

Total noise this morning.  Pool pump, and then noise pollution in form of neighbors spray-washing their fence. Used a lot of ear protection and going outside almost a non-starter.

Later, sweet relief by 3:30pm. The neighbor’s motorized spray-washing is long over and just now I cut the electrical supply to the pool filter via outdoor breaker (not sure what other electricity I cut off) and silence, sweet silence reigns. What a difference! I feel empowered. Like I freed up a lot of previously unusable space and made this place our own. I feel like the owner the week and given the actual owner didn’t offer to do anything in response to my email, it’s a no-brainer. And it’s good for him since now I don’t have to give him a negative review, although wifi so pathetic it’s bathetic. Have to reboot the router nightly.

The brief afternoon sun gave way to clouds and eventually spitting rain. We called up Hilton Head delivery service (“Hilton Head Delivers” I think) and through them ordered off the Black Marlin restaurant menu. Oh. so. good. Came promptly in 45 minutes: the most delectable bread, steak, baked potato, salad and chicken bites. And that was just for me. Steph got a fish dinner. Dang it was good to get some good quality food in me given the incipient cold virus. Read some of history of Nantucket in book on the tragedy of the 19th century whaler Essex.

Tuesday:

Coolish morn, 60 degrees, at least when coupled with the common cold. Remarkably susceptible to colds this year for reasons that escape. Perhaps not enough germ-killing beer on Saturday. I’m guessing I had it then sans symptoms (the latter came late Sunday afternoon). Made it to 8am mass despite leaving at 8:02. Got there in time for first reading - they really are maximalist at Holy Family, starting mass with Angelus and prayers for vocations. 45 minute weekday mass!

Then an earthly divine breakfast: French toast (the only worthwhile thing besides fries and wines they gave us, ha), bacon, cereal, orange juice. Feed a cold.

Lazy time extended infinitely. “King” chair next to front door is ridiculously comfortable, so I read and slept there. Amazed by the richness of the Cardinal Sarah book on silence. It reads like lectia divina. Made it out in the “quiet forest” (back deck) by noon for a cigar. Took dogs on walk past some multi-million dollar homes, then looked them up online to see pictures of interior.

Max has been 100% better today and yesterday. Really calmed down, maybe in part due to long run I gave him Sunday afternoon.  First full sun day; normally we’d have a day and a half of sun under our belt by now. But today was forecast as cloudy so we’re fortunate. 73 and sunny here now, 53 and cloudy in C-bus. I’d take that trade all day.

So a goodly beach time, 1:30 till 4:30; from 4:30 till 5:30 I unleashed the hounds - picked up Maris and Max and they frolicked the beach scene for ten minutes - on the walk back they actually pooped in unison, which was a first.

Read more of Essex story, some National Review. Really great day despite the head cold. When you’re just laying around reading, a virus (short of fever) doesn’t impede much. And I did a ton of laying around. I can feel my fitness level diminishing.

*

Only two days left already, Wed and Thurs given we’re thinking of rolling on Friday morning. Five day vacation is pretty decent length, and there’s the big benefit of having some decompression time at home before back to work.

(Later): Steph cooked up a delicious late dinner of spaghetti and fake meatballs, only they weren’t fake. They were as real as meatballs can be. Vegetarianism never tasted so good. Also had salad and Brussels sprouts. And they say nothing good ever came from Brussels - fake news!

I think it’s really hard for Steph to go from 100mph to 0mph in terms of busyness.

Wednesday:

Much easier night of sleep due to the cold breaking up already. Seems like it really helped to just take two complete days off workout-wise. Now the trick is not to overdo the next workout and re-ignite it.

Great hunger to read.  Got some wisdom literature, more Cardinal Sarah, more Russell Kirk biography. Reading is best part of this vacation.

This morning was cool and loud: 53 degrees (60 now, at 11am). Leaf-blower man destroyed the peace for an hour. Not exactly a monastic retreat, ha.

*

Reading Steph’s book Y in the Workplace. A couple of interesting quotes:
“Work ethic needs to be judged relative to a generation and a culture not relative to the way another generation was raised. Work ethic is developed from the upbringing, lifestyle, and the cultural pulse of a generation...The philosophies between Boomers and Gen Y in the workplace are clearly different and clearly influenced by the differences in child-rearing philosophies and school philosophies established in each generation… Every generation develops their idea of what work is based on the reaction and experiences of those who raised them. Gen Y learned that working hard, long hours and saving your money leads to getting laid off or not being able to retire due to the stock market crash of 2008 or the loss of all of your hard-earned money when your company filed for bankruptcy... So to sum up the formula that Gen Y witnessed: work hard + work hard + be obedient + save money = get screwed… Gen Y has shown us that work still gets done when integrated into life, rather than when it is forced into the confines of a 9 to 5 work day that supposedly creates ‘balance’... Perhaps if more of us adopted this philosophy, the zombie-like culture of the overworked, stressed out, and irritable would benefit."
*

Interesting quotes from article in Catholic mag:
“I [visited] Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Gaudí, Benedict XVI said at that very spot in 2010, “accomplished one of the most important tasks of our times: overcoming the division between human consciousness and Christian consciousness, between living in this temporal world and being open to eternal life, between the beauty of things and God as beauty.” 

And from Russell Kirk biography concerning Ray Bradbury:
“ [Bradbury said in a letter] each person hides ‘a private keep somewhere in the upper part of the head, where from time to time, of midnights, the beast can be heard raving... To control that, to the end of life, to stay contemplative, sane, good humored is our entire work, in the midst of the cities that tempt us to inhumanity, and passions that threaten to drive through the skin with invisible spikes.’ Clearly, a Stoic speaking to a Stoic.”
“Not just the ‘greatest science fiction writer in the world,’ Kirk claimed, Bradbury is ‘a master of style and of the high ancient art of parable and allegory.’ He made it a point to buy and read every single one of Bradbury’s books, believing the author possessed a singular power to demonstrate that ‘grim truths are lovely.’ 

Wow, surely that’s what we need these days, to make “grim truths lovely.”

*

This neighborhood is sweet. I love walking the path to the ocean past the rapturous multi-million dollar homes. One of the houses on rents for $10k a week. And I much enjoy the jungle foliage of the place; some of the palm fronds remind me nostalgically of Gilligan’s Island.

Thursday:

I checked my Yahoo account and got a blast email from Bai M., the abandoned spouse of Bud M., and I thought about how this case feels like mercy versus justice and how hard it feels to square the two.

I checked out Bud’s site and he has two new posts up, one about how he has found time to exercise in smaller increments (12-15 minutes) and recommends that to busy folks. The other is how he quit smoking after 30+ years via reading a book on how to quit smoking painlessly. But the post was far more self-revealing than that, talking about how he hasn’t gone to a big Catholic media event in 13 years (since the divorce perhaps, which he doesn’t mention) and how he finally went to this year’s. How he began going to daily Mass 13-years ago during “a time of trouble” (again the divorce). How he was at Medjugorje in 1987 and asked the visionary to answer his plea to stop smoking and it was answered 30 years later only after he had given his full trust and assent to the veracity of the apparition.

*

A lady remarked to me after church how chilly it was but that it was “refreshing” after so much recent “heat and humidity”. Drats.

The problem with the last day of vacation is that it gets really hard to suspend disbelief that you won’t be here forever.

I was taken by the fact there’s a 360-400 year old oak tree, perhaps planted by Native Americans, here in Sea Pines. So I headed out on bike and think I found it in Six Oaks park inside Six Oaks cemetery near the stables. It was shrouded with Spanish moss - is that why Low Country cemeteries look creepy, because the moss looks like shrouds? Or maybe like big living cobwebs?

Anyway, amazing to think of something so old and yet alive. The pines and live oaks of Hilton Head too oft get overshadowed by the beach and sunshine.

And taken again by surprise by how starry the skies look here. Definitely not used to so many star lights at night.

(I suspect I could read Dick and Jane in these soaring natural surroundings of Hilton Head and find it a delightfully lyrical caper... Context matters: except to dentists perhaps, beautiful teeth on a pretty girl provoke a different reaction than beautiful teeth on a skeleton.)

*

Shocked to hear one of my favorite TV journalists, Mark Halperin, has allegations that he groped women and pressed his member against female co-workers. Shocking inasmuch as he always seems so under control, so un-slaved to appetites. It looks like his problem years for this was ‘95 to ‘05, or when he was 30 to 40 years old.

*

Got to thinking about how early memories can be so elusive.

The Ebbs of Memory
The blue light of the bug zapper
Near a lake - or not
There was music - or not
On a black summer night.
The creosote scent of a timbered hall
George Washington slept here (or not)
History smelt of creosote and
Looked of long old planks
With knots and notches and iron fixings.
Memory melts into the imagination and back.


Thirst
They had a drive-in, not for movies,
But you parked your car
Near trays attached to swinging bars
And a waitress appeared and you ordered
Root beers or lemonades in frosted mugs
That looked to hold five or six ounces
With a good pour, in my mind’s eye
And never before or since have I longed for anything more than a second root beer
On a sweaty day when I was nine.

City Envy
The city next door had old world grace
But no prophet is welcome in his own land.
There was an ancient Tower called “Power house”,
Medieval stone bridges ovalled
Over a grand Rhine river.
They had a store just for cigars,
A dam, century-old churches,
A library named Lane (but not on a Lane Avenue).
They had biblical floods while
our road’s sewer overflowed,
They had a gallant soldier atop a courtly courthouse,
We had a Mac’s steakhouse.
They had trains and German towns,
Restaurants and ghostly haunts,
Winding roads and scary slums
But we, alas, lived in Fairfield...

Friday:

So we left our place a day early; we were on pace for a long while for 7:15pm finish but made it back by 8:30 due to a stop at beloved Camp Creek. Steph got emotional there, spurred by memories of taking Buddy right after his cancer operation.

It was just otherworldly beautiful - I’d wanted to get home but glad Steph prodded me to do it. Well worth the half-hour or more to walk down to the waterfall. Dogs had a ball, at one point climbing a sheer wall of dirt like it was nothing - it looked like about a 75 degree angle. Scampered up after some wildlife and then came down the eight feet or so, fortunately not hurting themselves. It’s the coming down that worries.



The dogs were giddy with the return and if there’s ever a chance to see who can run faster it’s as they’re released after a trip. Maximum speed to the fence-line. Maris lit out and Max second since they couldn’t exit door at same time. Max gained on Maris eventually but I’m not sure that’s because Maris wasn’t slowing down as she entered area close to fence.

Saturday:

Back in Hilliard, a snowy morning, big flakes like a long girl’s lashes falling like tufted graces. I feel the earthly lift of being in the familiar.

From novelist Joan Didion:
“I grew up in a dangerous landscape. I think people are more affected than they know by landscapes and weather. Sacramento was a very extreme place. It was very flat, flatter than most people can imagine, and I still favor flat horizons. The weather in Sacramento was as extreme as the landscape. There were two rivers, and these rivers would flood in the winter and run dry in the summer. Winter was cold rain and tulle fog. Summer was 100 degrees, 105 degrees, 110 degrees. Those extremes affect the way you deal with the world. It so happens that if you're a writer the extremes show up. They don't if you sell insurance.”

October 20, 2017

Ol' Bush & Romney Looking Mighty Good Now

NRO's Jim Geraghty shoots and scores:
Most of us are old enough to remember the Bush years. (Some of us are old enough to remember the first Bush presidency.) We remember “Bushitler,” “Chimpy McHalliburton,” “Bush doesn’t care about black people,” the awards for films depicting Bush’s assassination, Howard Dean speculating that the Saudis warned Bush about 9/11 and the president letting it happen, MoveOn.org running ads comparing Bush to Hitler, Keith Ellison comparing the 9/11 attack to the Reichstag fire . . . 
One of the reasons Trump became president is because a sufficient portion of the electorate tuned out or disregarded the criticism of him from the Left. One of the reasons people ignored that criticism is because at least three good men – Bush, McCain, and Mitt Romney — were demonized as the irredeemable epitome of all evil by liberal voices for almost the entirety of their public lives. One could throw Sarah Palin in there as well — whatever else you think of her, she’s not a monster, and she’s done so much for families with children with Down Syndrome – as well as the ads featuring Paul Ryan pushing a grandmother off a cliff. When every single prominent Republican figure is the WORST MONSTER IN HUMAN HISTORY, people stop believing the criticism.

A few voices on the left recognized this. Right before the election, comedian Bill Maher had what appeared to be a painful moment of clarity:
I know liberals made a big mistake because we attacked your boy Bush like he was the end of the world. And he wasn’t. And Mitt Romney we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn’t have changed my life that much or yours. Or John McCain. They were honorable men who we disagreed with, and we should have kept it that way. So we cried wolf and that was wrong. But this is real. This is going to be way different. 
But I don’t want our friends on the left to merely regret the past, I want them to learn from it... We don’t fix this by praising retired members of the other party, or wishing that everyone in the other party could be as reasonable as the one who deviates from party orthodoxy the most. We fix this by reasserting the unwritten rule in our political discourse that our opponents are not to be treated like inhuman monsters unless they actually do something monstrous. And mere disagreement on issues does not make one a monster! We think poorly of Harvey Weinstein’s donation of $100,000 to Planned Parenthood because an impassioned disagreement about when human life begins. But it’s his long history of sexual exploitation and cruelty that makes him a monster.

October 16, 2017

Marriage According to a Futurist

Rarely do you see how different the Judeo-Christian instinct is from someone like the futurist guru who came to talk to our corporation recently.

His take was simple materialism: that which does not benefit us in this life should be discarded. Marriage, he says, was an institution designed when people lived to age 25, not to live together for 150 years (when our lifetimes expand to that point, assuming they do).  He said marriage is not tenable any longer because people can't be expected to live together that long.

Marriage has always been hard, at least going back to Moses’s time. But marriage, like water, isn’t an end in itself. Most people view water as simply something that enabled life on this planet. But you could view it as having been created by God expressly for the sacrament of Baptism - i.e. eternal life - and in order to symbolize its life-giving properties God made it earthly-life-giving as well.

In other words, water’s function as thirst-quencher is a byproduct of water’s role in Baptism rather than the other way around.  We view the spiritual as negligible, the earthly as all important while God does the opposite.

Similarly, with marriage. It’s meant to signify God’s relationship with us. The prophet Isaiah wrote that “your creator will marry you”. And that’s partially the significance of Sunday's gospel about heaven being a “wedding feast”. The point of marriage is less that it’s an end in itself but a pointer to the true marriage, the eternal one, with God. The permanence of earthly love in marriage is meant to show the permanence of the love God has for us. Without that pattern we are left much the poorer for it.

Ultimately God really wants us to mirror Him so we can show Him to others. Often I don’t like this much, preferring he show Himself to others (and myself) directly. Cut out the middlemen. But that’s obviously not God’s plan given that Jesus said to Paul on the road to Damascus, ‘Why are you persecuting me?”.  But what I miss is that it's not Pelagian; God gives us the grace for marriage or to mirror Him.

But if your supposition is that God doesn’t exist or is an impersonal Spirit, then you may be left with scratching your head thinking marriage is inexplicable, assuming you ignore the toll divorce takes on kids.

*

There is something about Eucharistic Adoration on Thursday that sets me up to better appreciate Communion in the following day or two. The one Host, in the gaudy monstrance, drives home the reality of the One Bread. To look at it from a distance, seemingly unattainable or untouchable in its glass protection, makes me realize the generousness of Sundays. Unless something is withheld from us for awhile perhaps we can’t appreciate the gift.

October 10, 2017

State of the Weather

A man-bites-dog viewpoint:
Why I Love Catholic infighting
*

I think it's high time for the annual State of the Weather address.

The state of the weather is... tenuous. We recently broke a ridiculously long string of beautiful days which apparently will end in a week-long bacchanal of rain and clouds. “Make Cloudumbus cloudy again” is Mother Nature’s new catchphrase. But what a run it’s been. We’ll not see her like again. A long, quenching crest of summer days post-summer, a late harvest that only serves to remind me how much I’ve missed a long stretch of summer-like days.

I made a fire and prolong the goodness; the perfume of the flame comes and goes with the sublime breeze. I read of the “roulette of the season”; autumn is bittersweet, borrowed time.


*

Interesting on the power of language, from the book Cheap Sex:
....when we name something in the social world—unlike in the natural world—we are not only mentally mapping it, but we are also providing the idea with a reality that allows it to then act back upon us (and the wider social world), altering how we then must subsequently navigate it. Thus the world after something has been named is not as malleable as it was before it. To identify something socially is to give it life and power, not just a name. It’s been occurring for decades already in the study of sexuality.
Sociologist James Davison Hunter asserts similarly when he defines culture as the power of legitimate naming.  That is, to classify something in the social world is to penetrate the imagination, to alter our frameworks of knowledge and discussion, and to shift the perception of everyday reality. In the domain of sexuality—fraught as it is with great moral valence—this can make all the difference. It’s why there is often poignant and bitter struggle over words and terms around sex, and the politics of using them or avoiding them. We tend to move, albeit slowly, from the “urban dictionary” to the everyday lexicon.
*

Part of the thrill of having a digital WSJ subscription is simply being able to blast beyond the paywall. Years of butting my head against it, if only very occasionally, makes the forbidden fruit more tasty. I’m surprised at how much satisfaction I take in simply signing in to their website.  Silly. Cue the Doors.  I could only justify it by virtue of the fact that it's not the NY Times or the Washington Post. And journalism outfits are now, sadly, charitable institutions given the lack of ad revenue due to the rise of the 'net and "free" news.

October 08, 2017

The Gospel According to...

If I were highly motivated, I’d research all the Sunday gospels this year from ordinary form Mass and compare to Latin mass gospels. I think the former are far more likely to be “discouraging” gospels, personified by today’s about God smiting the wicked tenants.  Eastern Catholics and 1962 extraordinary form devotees today received much more positive gospels. 

For all the reputation the New Mass has s far as being milquetoast and the Latin Mass for being “rigid” or strict, the gospel selections don’t seem to back that up. And definitely the Byzantine gospels are, I’d say at least 80-90% positive, which far exceeds the current Roman rite. 

Looking back over just the past 10 weeks, the Latin Mass hasn’t had a negative gospel since August 6th. It has gone 8-1-1 over past ten weeks - eight positive, one negative and one neutral.

During the same period, the new mass has gone 2-4-4.

Perhaps part of what drove the new readings for the new calendar was the perceived need to challenge people more, but I think people need encouragement as well and I’m not sure the negative gospels have been overly effective in evangelizing the Faithful. Attract more flies with honey, they say, and the Latin rite and Byzantines at least have the patina of long tradition.

October 04, 2017

The World According to "Researchers"

I shouldn't waste my time reading WaPo articles but here's a doozy on tipping:
It makes sense to leave a tip for your regular waiter at your regular diner or to give one to your doorman each holiday season, since the service quality you receive in the future will likely depend on those tips. But economists find it peculiar that people tip the bellman upon departing from a hotel they’ll never visit again, a waitress at an out-of-town restaurant or a cabdriver in a big city. There’s technically no economic reason for such transactions, beyond a social expectation. And so nerdy behavioral scientists have had a field day running studies to figure out what oddities shape our decisions about tipping — decisions economic theory asserts we often shouldn’t be making in the first place.
So in other words, doing something because it's the right thing to do irrespective of what you get out of it is irrational.  Shades of  Thomas Frank's befuddlement that conservative voters might vote on issues (like pro-life) that are not directly in their self-interest.

September 29, 2017

Too True

I'm guilty as charged of mishandling.

Cell Phone Photography for $100 Alex!

Sun-dog

Campfire in distance under moonglow

Fire glow

Taken before solar eclipse.

Taken at solar eclipse - note the subtly decreased sun.

On the bridge to Ohio 

Bumper sticker advice

A creek runs through it. 

Kayak nation


Dog in dog statue


September 28, 2017

Trying to Understand Current Politics

Roy Moore won a Senate seat despite, in July, not having heard about DACA or Dreamers.  He also asserted there are places in America under sharia law, but when asked for specifics came up short. Likewise Trump won the presidency despite having a deep and abiding wellspring of blissful ignorance.

You could say this is proof the Republican party is the "stupid party", as Mark Shea gleefully used to say back fifteen years ago.  And that's probably true now but I think there are a couple other underlying trends.

Just as if you want to be a conservative SCOTUS you have to try to not leave a paper trail, there's an advantage for a political candidate to be ignorant of policy.  You can lie freely, without pain of sin.  Thus Obama can run a campaign for '08 on just the slogan "hope and change!" and pass ACA by subletting it all to Congress. And Trump can promise, "the best health care for everybody will be easy!" and mean it, believe it, and sell it.

I recall someone asking on a EWTN Q&A forum asking why tell people about mortal sins because one of the conditions is that they must know it's mortal. Similarly, if a candidate is completely ignorant he or she is more free to dispense their reality-free point of view.

The other underlying factor is the ongoing atomization of society.

The surprise is not that political parties are dying but that they lasted so long, since nowadays joining a group is passé.  If you can’t even get players to stand for the national anthem it’s no wonder politicians won’t stand for the muck of a political party.  “Cooperation” is a swear word.

Just as we have 10,000 Christian denominations, we’ll have a hundred completely independent senators - everybody will a McCain or Sanders or Paul or Moore.

My guess is that state governments will become more important in the future given how useless the federal is.