October 23, 2013

Musing from a Coffee Joint

This just in: I Love Coffee

Hipster outside the window

With camera editing filter added


Not too terribly much writing lately. Perhaps due to the lack of sunspiration, the lack of light felt on mornings and eves, or simply not enough reading – which is the Fertile Crescent of writerly inspiration. Heather King said recently that her reading and walking activities generate her posts. She was rather sharp about what a burden email correspondence seems to be for her. It seemed a vent but then she tried to turn it all around by saying that's what we're here for, to be leaned upon by others. Still, it's pretty surprising her “blogesty”. And I'm also a bit surprised that this Bobby takes starting a blog so seriously, as if blogging hasn't already jumped the shark and as if it already wasn't as easy as rolling off a log. (Although admittedly his query about how to gain readers is understandable.)

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Web-searched for Rush Limbaugh's view of the government shutdown. It's interesting how Ann Coulter, a bomb-thrower, hasn't put herself in the Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh camp. She was okay with raising the debt ceiling, loves Sen. Mitch McConnell, and reiterates that Republicans are only ½ of one of three branches of government.

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The lack of self-restraint among all of us now is pandemic, but what's interesting is that it seems to play itself in politics as not having to think about strategy but simply, like the charge of the light brigade, run up and die. We don't have to apologize for being strategically wrong nor do we have to ever settle for less than exactly what they want. You see it in some of the strategy of pro-life groups where bills are sent up to legislatures that pretend Roe v. Wade never happened.  Incrementalism is dead, or at least has been discredited, but then the NRA is the most successful lobby group in history and has a take-no-prisoners attitude and that zealously guards against the slippery slope.

It feels like all of this started with Judge Bork when Democrats scorched earth in preventing his nomination. Gentlemanliness be damned. The levers of power are being exploited ever so ruthlessly and it's not unlike how markets function: inefficiencies are taken note of and exploited. Politics has become capitalism by other means and the once Senate rubber stamps on presidential Supreme Court picks, the filibuster, and the debt ceiling are the“inefficiencies”. It used to be that just because you could do something didn't mean you should, but now in everything we do we're seen as fools if we don't exploit loopholes and/or opponent weakness.


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Last night was intrigued by offer of magazines in exchange for Delta Skymiles. Since I'll likely never use the Skymiles, this was like free magazines. Ended up going with a year of the Economist, a weekly, over the Wall Street Journal because the Journal is print and digital and it's simply unconscionable to have to bend over and pick up that print newspaper every single day. Don't need that much news in my life anyway given how much negativity there is inherent in it. So likely a good decision although Sports Illustrated was tempting as well. Could wish there as a Catholic mag in the bunch but they're going for the largest possible audience obviously.

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Trying a new coffee shop in the Short North. Ordered an “ordo verde”, whatever that is. Sort of like the ordo novus? Tastes like coffee though.  Bittersweet, from Honduras. Music a bit distracting but got a window seat. One Line Coffee is the joint, or perhaps I should say one line coffee as the sign says. Cummings reference?

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We've had a “disposable culture”, a throwaway mentality, for decades now but it really seems to have hit the fan of late. It's one thing to have to replace a car every eight or ten years, but with technological gadgets like computers, smart phones and e-readers, the associated companies seem to expect you to re-buy every year. That's planned obsolesce to a pretty high degree. Of course you don't have to replace your Apple gadgets, for example, but the software apps won't long be supported under old operating systems, and Apple won't support old operating systems indefinitely. With the Amazon Kindle, the improvements since 2008 have been significant enough for me, at least, to continue to go the replacement route (helped by selling the previous Kindle to third parties along the way, so at least there's some measure of recycling going on).

On one hand, I find this very unsettling. I don't like the fact that I can't buy a quality device that will last for decades as you can with a decent wristwatch or a physical book. There is a permanence to these latter objects that feels consoling both in terms of their familiarity and stability and in the lower ongoing price in purchasing once instead of having future claims on income due to technological improvements.

But on the other hand any notion of “permanence” and “material goods” is oxymoronic and a fantasy. Loyalty needs to be directed to God and people, not to physical objects. To treat objects as though they are other than useful, temporary tools is to arguably treat them with more deference than deserved.

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This just in: Pope Francis getting criticized by SSPX is like Soviets criticizing the U.S. during the Cold War.  So difficult it must be for the strict orthodox or the strict liberal to stay within the far-stretched Roman fisherman's net! We tend towards our tendencies, no deep thought there grin.

Cardinal Ratzinger could sure throw a zinger every now and then:

The shepherds of the Church not only find themselves exposed today to the accusation that they still hold fast to the methods of the Inquisition and try to strangle the Spirit by the repressive power of their office; they are, at the same time, attacked by the voice of the faithful, who accuse them more and more loudly of being mute and cowardly watchdogs that stand idly by under the pressure of liberal publicity while the Faith is being sold piecemeal for the dish of pottage of being recognized as “modern”. An important scholar, who is likewise a thoughtful and intelligent Christian, recently reduced this protest to an unforgettable formula. He writes: “A more or less lengthy visit to a Catholic bookstore does not encourage one to pray with the psalmist: ‘You will reveal the path of life to me.’ Not only does one quickly discover there that Jesus did not turn water into wine, but one also gains insight into the art of turning wine into water.

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