September 30, 2013

Wasted Away Again at the Oktoberfest...

Passed out young lederhosen reveler

High Gas Prices? Who Cares, Because the Holy One Obama is in Office!

The blue line represents historical gas prices since 2006.  The red line represents perception of media interest regarding gas prices.  High gas prices + Republican president = no good!   High gas prices + Democrat president = okay!


September 27, 2013

Politics and Religion

Amused by New York Times piece that said Democrats are enraged that Republicans are forcing them to be "the adult in the room".  Unfamiliar role.

The "daddy party" is daddy no more?  The Republicans are like bachelors on a bender.  It's kind of interesting and oddly inspiring to see what was traditionally seen as the cautious party acting slightly crazy, but then that's the role of a minority party. Don't the Dems know that with power comes responsibility?  Dems want power with no responsibility. 

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I must say that the Patheos shepherdess, aka The Anchoress, has a keen eye for talent. For whatever reason I'm not an avid reader of the Anchoress's own blog, but you look at the list of writers over at Patheos and you understand exactly why they're there. It ain't no accident. Simcha Fisher and Betty Duffy to name but two. (They seem to thread that fine line between presumption and despair, challenging us but offering a side order of hope.)  There's a value added in being a fine curator, as the Anchoress is.

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Six months into Pope Francis's papacy, we're hearing some grunts of pain from the underappreciated right.  The honeymoon be over. R. R. Reno's column in First Things was an example, but it hit closer to home when that stalwart of conservative consistency, blogger Jeff Culbreath, stepped into the critical realm.  I uncharitably anticipated a lack of nuance and a doctrinaire dislike of the pope's style, but I was moved by his humility and cri de coeur:

"I must admit to feeling orphaned by this pope in other ways. Pope Francis seems unaware that those of us who do not suffer material poverty need the Church just as much as the poor need the Church – perhaps moreso. Most of us in the prosperous first world are on the “existential periphery” when it comes to the salvation of our immortal souls."


The astuteness of recognizing that spiritual poverty is greater than material poverty was telling.  I knew this wasn't the pope for Jeff and that that would entail some measure of suffering, but I was far too flippant about that suffering as is the usually the case when it's OPS (other people's suffering).  There are costs to this papacy, just as there were costs to the Benedictine reign.  No pope can seem to be all things to all people.

September 26, 2013

Excerpt Corner

From: My Struggle: Book 2: A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard 
Seeing her grow up also changes my view of my own upbringing, not so much because of the quality but the quantity, the sheer amount of time you spend with your children, which is immense. So many hours, so many days, such an infinite number of situations that crop up and are lived through. From my own childhood I remember only a handful of incidents, all of which I regarded as momentous, but which I now understand were a few events among many, which completely expunges their meaning, for how can I know that those particular episodes that lodged themselves in my mind were decisive, and not all the others of which I remember nothing? 
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When I was growing up I was taught to look for the explanation of all human qualities, actions and phenomena in the environment in which they originated. Biological or genetic determinants, the givens, that is, barely existed as an option, and when they did they were viewed with suspicion. Such an attitude can at first sight appear humanistic, inasmuch as it is intimately bound up with the notion that all people are equal, but upon closer examination it could just as well be an expression of a mechanistic attitude to man, who, born empty, allows his life to be shaped by his surroundings. 

It is not the case that we are born equal and that the conditions of life make our lives unequal, it is the opposite, we are born unequal, and the conditions of life make our lives more equal.
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When I think of my three children it is not only their distinctive faces that appear before me, but also the quite distinct feeling they radiate. This feeling, which is constant, is what they “are” for me. And what they “are” has been present in them ever since the first day I saw them. 
Their character traits, which slowly began to reveal themselves after only a few weeks, have never changed either, and so different are they inside each of them that it is difficult to imagine the conditions we provide for them, through our behavior and ways of being, have any decisive significance. 
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When we said no, she [my child] asked if it was the day after tomorrow; that was about the furthest extent of the future horizon for her. 
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All the young women drank water in such vast quantities it was coming out of their ears, they thought it was “beneficial” and “healthy,” but all it did was send the numbers of incontinent young people soaring...they were confusing food with the mind, they thought they could eat their way to being better human beings without understanding that food is one thing and the notions food evokes another.

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At this juncture in the conversation we were handed a brochure from one of the town’s speech therapists. They are crazy in this country, I thought, a speech therapist? Did everything have to be institutionalized? She’s only three! 
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But I liked the most ordinary of the sky’s manifestations, even the very smooth, gray, rain-filled ones, against whose heavy background the colors in the backyards beneath me stood out clearly, almost shone. The verdigris roofs! The orangey red of the bricks! And the yellow metal of the cranes, how bright it was against all the grayish white! Or one of the normal summer days when the sky was clear and blue and the sun was burning down, and the few clouds drifting by were light, almost contourless, then the glittering, gleaming expanse of buildings stretched into the distance. And when evening fell there was an initial flare of red on the horizon, as though the land below was aflame, then a light, gentle darkness, under whose kind hand the town settled down for the night, as though happily fatigued after a whole day in the sun. Stars lit the sky, satellites hovered, planes twinkled, flying into and out of Kastrup and Sturup.
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Or perhaps it was the prefabricated nature of the days in this world I was reacting to, the rails of routine we followed, which made everything so predictable that we had to invest in entertainment to feel any hint of intensity? 
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I took Dostoyevsky with me, first Demons, then The Brothers Karamazov. In them I found the light again. But it wasn’t the lofty, clear and pure light, as with H├Âlderlin; with Dostoyevsky there were no heights, no mountains, there was no divine perspective, everything was in the human domain, wreathed in this characteristically Dostoyevskian wretched, dirty, sick, almost contaminated mood that was never too far from hysteria.

September 25, 2013

Reno on Pope Francis

But Pope Francis has been undisciplined in his rhetoric, casually using standard modern formulations, ones that are used to beat up on faithful Catholics—“audacity and courage” means those who question Church teachings, the juxtaposition of the “small-minded” traditionalists to the brave and open liberals who are “in dialogue”, and so forth. This gives everything he says progressive connotations. As a consequence, American readers, and perhaps European ones as well, intuitively read a progressivism into Pope Francis’ statements about abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. Thus the headlines.
I tend to see it as Pope Francis being hard on those within the Church and easy on those outside her, which is sort of the way Christ was - very tough on the Jewish insiders of the time while very warm and consoling to sinners and tax collectors.

Ye Annual Bike Ride

Headed to the work exit early because it was time for our annual bikeathon, twenty-some miles beginning in the aptly named Spring Valley, Ohio. I arrived before my mom and uncle because of various traffic woes for them, so I sampled some of the brilliant fall sunshine, riding by a quaint town library in a converted old home.

We headed south, towards Oregonia. Or was it Oregon? My rear end and fatigue level suggests it might have been the state of Oregon we'd reached before turning round and making the haul back. In the old days it seemed like we broke up the ride with lunch or a snack somewhere, but of late we just go after those miles one by one by one, twenty-seven point three in this case. A long ride was had by all.

Mom said it best afterward: “Next year why don't we skip the ride and go straight to this,” meaning our happy hour and dinner at Slim's in “downtown” Spring Valley. Or at least go a few miles less. I think twenty to twenty-two would be ideal.

Slim's is a pretty slick place. You know craft beer has become hugely popular when a little joint in Spring Valley, for heaven's sake, serves up Sam Adams and Great Lakes and a case-full of other options. Choice in beer is the new black. Fu-fu beers are taking over the world.

We weren't immediately sure if the signs saying "Foul language will not be tolerated" were for real but based on other signage it turned out it was a joke. I was kind of hoping not since it would make this Spring Valley establishment even more like Mayberry, North Carolina.

The bike path was fine if a bit too heavily wooded for my taste. There's something of a tunnel effect. You crave a vista after awhile, to see a house on a faraway hill and imagine what it's like to wake up to their view. Signs of civilization (sometimes just barely so) are always welcome in these settings. We saw at least two half-burnt buildings, a Jed Clampett-like cabin (before he struck oil) and various other picturesque scenes.

Mom surprised by saying that her father was one of the first ones to buy a television. The expense of a TV back then seems out of character for such a frugal person, but I guess Grandpa heard how great this gadget was from his wealthy boss at work. Now we know where my brother gets his tendency to be the first one to buy shiny new tech gadgets.

I also learned that I was a rebellious sort early and often, well at least early. In first grade I was a trouble, with the teacher reporting that I didn't obey her but by second grade I toed the line. I got my teenage rebellion over with at seven. Very precocious.

A Hodge-Podge of Discontinued Items

 
Saturday was nice if perilously short. Jokingly short. So short that if it were a run I wouldn't bother putting my running shoes on (those were the immortal words of Dan H. regarding my typical two-mile run).

The morning was rainy and chill but not unlikable, good reading weather which I'd planned to make better use of but sometimes you just want to be lazy and read something so accessible and gossipy, like the political junkie bible, This Town. It is what it is.

So the morning was also properly wasteful. A time of general laxity as befits the only unscheduled day of the week.   Now that the sun has set and the temperature has fallen precipitously and we find ourselves chilly despite the fire, and so go find sweatpants and sweatshirts. Maybe we need much bigger fires, but it doesn't bode well for nights spent out here in October, when things really cool down. It reminds me of our previous failed attempts to make the back patio a de facto three-season room by way of portable heaters. Mother Nature is pretty hard to overcome.


Really, it is surprising how nice a campfire feels. It's sort of mesmerizing and feels like your own fireworks show, if only in the color palate of orange. I have to believe there's some element deep within us that has evolved to appreciate and “need” campfires (and green foliage as well) since mankind has been staring at campfires for at least a million years. It seems to behoove us to look upon fire, and natural surroundings in general, every day.

Part of the magic of Monday night was the sweet delay of beer, the slow but steady drinkage of a Columbus IPA, and the enjoyment of the novel My Struggle. The book is, at this juncture, about an introvert trying to survive - with kids - in an extrovert world.

Sweet scent of burning wood, the glow of yellow, the brightness of a full moon night. Sow fires while they can be sowed - by December this will be impossible. 

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Had an inspiration, out of the blue, to listen to the old Police song Invisible Sun off their 1981 album which I'd owned. How great to hear the old song via the magic of YouTube! Then Secret Journey from the same album. I recall trying to figure out the meaning of Invisible Sun before I had any clue concerning symbolism and before you could “cheat” and find out via a Google search. I see today that it's Sting's way of saying, basically, “how do these poor people and folks from war-wracked countries survive? There must be some sort of 'invisible sun' of hope within us.” Downcast lyrics with a message of hope. I think I used to think the “invisible sun” mentioned was somehow a nuclear bomb, since nuclear bombs are bright as suns.
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Pope Francis sure gets a lot of media attention. Unwittingly I presume; he doesn't seem particularly strategic.  (Gus Lloyd asks on his Catholic Channel radio show: "is he crazy like a fox?") He famously said that we shouldn't obsess over gays and abortion but then the next day talked about the evil of abortion, which I assume was in response to some getting nervous over the message sent in his America interview. (It seems telling that he didn't say anything about homosexuality, maybe suggesting he's more of the Jody Bottum camp on that? Of course that's to read strategy to communications where perhaps none exists. Still, I suspect that somewhere Bottum is saying, “see, I told you so!”)

Francis is the “anti-politician”. Is that good or bad? If grace perfects nature, then nature matters.  God leads supernaturally, but only after man has exhausted his own leadership skills.  Is the more conventional style of leader communication, assiduously studied and practiced by politicians bent on the success of their message, important or worthy of imitation? I don't know. Most politicians may be successful in getting re-elected but hardly successful in inspiring and governing, though there are exceptions.

Pope Francis is like John McCain on the Straight Talk Express before McCain became a button-downed, neutered presidential candidate and shell of his formerly free-wheeling self. The pope doesn't appear to be about “message discipline” or anticipating what the headline will be from a given interview, or strategizing - but instead prefers to be led by the Spirit. Would a PR firm be horrified or impressed by Pope Francis and should it matter? Would they complain about “gaffes” and a less buttoned-down style? Would they warn him of being misunderstood and misread by the mainstream media and thus the masses? In one sense his message has certainly been consistent: God's love and mercy and the expectation for Christians to exercise the same.

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There's a book out on spending one's money more strategically rather than spending on what we perceive will make us happy. The perception of many is that what will make us happy are a) more stuff and b) isolation. Thus you have people who long to win the lottery dreaming of a house on the hill in the country (isolation) or b) a luxury sports car in the “more stuff” category. The book recommends spending money on experiences rather than stuff, and also says that spending more on others makes us happier, which is not intuitive to lottery dreamers.

This is interesting if only because I do tend to spend money on experiences these days rather than stuff, although book-buying is still heavy. But I'm not interested in luxury cars or clothes or baseball card collections or shoes or any of that type of stuff.  No dreams of a house in the woods or ex-exurbs as I'd had in the past. And do spend on charity. So it seems like I've moved farther in the more strategic direction.


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Mornings have broken….cool. Forty to fifty degrees, so not even a close call for the alluvial time on the front patio. First autumn robs one of the edges, the mornings and evenings, and that has a disproportionate effect on me since obviously those are the times of day I can be outside given the work schedule.

Part of work is dealing with unexpected frustrations, of unplanned mysteries. Like how in tarnation (when's the last time someone's said that? I should google it) code on my machine works and code on another machine doesn't when they're loaded with the same software install?

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Recently read a bit of Mary Beard's blog; she's a Cambridge professor of a certain age and says one of the more surprising things about undergraduates these days is that they are very comfortable with surveillance, cameras everywhere, etc.. They don't mind that Big Brother is watching.

I thought of that recently when my high school-aged niece was aghast that I was aghast about being asked for identification at a local metro park. I was swimming in a lake there a few weeks back and a ranger came by and didn't say, “No swimming allowed!” but instead started an investigation. Asked me if I had identification right off. This seemed a very new thing - you swim in a lake and are asked to provide a driver's license so they can run it against their databases.

It appears the desire for privacy and distrust of big business and big government is a generational thing. It's interesting to see how merely the ingredient of time combined with culture has resulted in a younger generation of very new sensibilities on issues gay marriage, surveillance issues, and I'm sure a host of other differences I'm not even aware of. I guess I'm slowly becoming that old man who doesn't know you don't call African-Americans “coloreds” anymore!

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Fr. J gave us the “Come to Jesus” talk as far as financial support goes. The parish has lost a whopping $200k a year since bingo receipts fell 50% a few years ago due to some new state regulations as well as increased competition from the opening of casinos. (Apparently a Republican legislature, perhaps inadvertently, ended up screwing churches out of millions of dollars collectively.)

Of course Fr. J wants bingo volunteers as well, apparently believing that more sellers = more church profit, which is likely true. It's hard not to see bingo as a sinking ship, and volunteering for bingo seems like re-arranging chairs on the Titanic, but Fr J hopes the worst is over and we'll find new stability at our lower profitability point. Live by bingo, die by bingo seems to be the thing.We've hitched our star to this big production number, this entertainment vehicle, at a cost of about two hundred man-hours of volunteer labor a week.

A big killer is, not surprisingly, the school subsidies. You wonder, the way things are going, how we'll be able to maintain Catholic schools. Parents get hit so hard - first, they have to pay for the public schools. Then they have to spend big money on Catholic schools. Then they get hit indirectly via the parish sending a ton of offertory money to bleeding schools.

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So Friday night's Short North Microbrew Festival with Ron turned out to be a grand time. Really so much better than expected. So much “liquid gold” there, meaning delicious beers. The Sohio Stout made by Columbus Brewing was just unbelievably good. Astonishing. The Bodhi and Creeper were 9 and 10% alcohol content and were good, but not as great as some would have it. Really, it's like being a kid in a candy store, getting to try all those excellent beers, many without peer.

Friend R. has the typical resistances to Catholicism despite being Catholic. I think his beef is, at core, with Jesus for letting sinful humans in charge. A crypto-Protestant,  he asks the question “where in the Bible did Jesus say you couldn't do that?” – the quintessential Protestant argument about anything, proving again that the U.S. Protestantized culture usually wins when it comes to setting the framework for religious world views. Again it goes to not believing Jesus left people in charge despite Matthew chapter 16 to Peter: 'whatever you hold bound on earth is held bound in Heaven, whatever you hold loose on earth, shall be held loose in Heaven.“ Unpopular verse, and no wonder given that Jesus was talking to a sinful human being.

But the culture is a tsunami that effects us all in different ways and I'm certainly guilty of a million capitulations.

R. has certain work eccentricities. He says he gets so focused on his work that when he is suddenly interrupted it startles him. Thinks it may trigger a heart attack. So he put up a bell outside his office along with a note saying not to knock loudly (and presumably to use the bell instead of knocking altogether).

It's interesting how little inspiration popes have on folks like Ron. We've had three straight "superstar popes” but it hasn't turned around church membership. Is it the leader(s)? Is it message? Is it grassroots (lay people)? Probably a little of the last two. The Christian life isn't easy, so that hurts the message. And we Christians often don't give good witness, so the messenger is flawed.

People live closer to the ground and R. judges the Catholic Church based more on personal experiences than on a figure in Rome. He's seeing a psychic, a “spiritual guide”. Whether this elocution be of God or the devil it's unclear, but it is sort of uncanny what she knew about him without him telling her a word. He asked her how he could know that she's not of the devil and she said “look around at all theses statues of Mary and Jesus!”. (Notwithstanding that dark spiritual forces are for more clever than we think and can be hid as 'angels of light'.)  Ultimately I wonder what good it does him. It's interesting, a neat parlor trick to be able to discern someone's past, but seems like those that speak in tongues - cool and interesting but not particularly helpful.

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Found a dreamy website, National Geographic's guide to New York City. Lovely article titled “Woody Allen's New York”. Gobsmackingly beautiful pictures of Upper East Side bookstores, iconic delis and lavish pubs. Makes me lonesome for the Big Apple and reminds me just how much there is to see there, even when you might think you've seen it all. Every Monday evening Woody Allen plays at the Carlisle hotel bar, plays clarinet with a jazz band. Imagine that, listening to Allen play jazz in the city. Quintessentially New York. Also made me hungry to see one of his New York films, specifically A Purple Rose in Cairo, the main New York movie of his I haven't seen. And available for free via Amazon Instant Videos and yet….and yet I never watch movies. I don't know why.

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From a Norwegian writer who called his book “My Struggle” (reminding me unfortunately of Hitler's trash), writes of having three children and says, “People who don't have children seldom understand what it involves, no matter how mature and intelligent they might otherwise be…. Erik pretended to be unconcerned, he wanted to appear generous and child-friendly, but he was continually contradicted by his body language, his arms pinned to his sides, the way he went round putting things back in their places and that faraway look in his eyes.”

Ol' Erik later tried to admire the cliff view on a hike “without taking into account that Vanja was only four and incapable of accessing the risk,” and so the narrator comes sprinting to the rescue.

The Proustian six-volume novel is appealing in that it sort of celebrates ordinary life (like spam poetry!) rather than, say, rhapsodizing about the south of France. It's oddly compelling, though admittedly I've only read the first fifty pages of volume two. Family life, warts and all, is front and center. And it has the added benefit of being funny.

There's a scene where he takes his family to a woefully pathetic circus. It's almost a parody of a circus, the “performers” doing quite unremarkable things. And yet if I look at it from the kids' perspective, it's probably wonderful. That's one difference between childhood and adulthood: as a child you'd see that circus as full of wonder, as an adult you look at it as kitsch and shtick. I wonder if they've chosen the better half.

CBS Experimental

I've been watching the CBS News nightly newscast successfully for a couple weeks without vomiting. The gentle patronization of the telecast is mostly inoffensive; Scott Pelley acts as though he's explaining things to the senile (which, no doubt, half his audience is). A lot of it is dumbshow, and you could easily turn off the sound and still get the gist of the message on domestic stories that Republicans are obstructionists thwarting the good and noble Democrats.

One sharp difference between the Sunday shows and the nightly news is that the Sunday shows assume you're in-the-know and seem targeted at the newsmakers themselves, while the nightly newscasts are directed to the masses, who presumably require a lot of direction. Sunday shows are like a hot, peppery sauce while nightly newscasts are a pabulum-ish comfort food.

The condescension is generally endearing since the propagandistic ardor shows they care, but Monday night's valentine to Hillary Clinton combined with an Obamacare commercial was a bit too sickly sweet for my taste. Norah O'Donnell's on-screen drool over Bill Clinton wasn't particularly appealing either; she reminded me of that gal who gazed longingly at George Stephanapoulous in the cult documentary “The War Room”. There's a cumulative effect at work; it's starting to wear thin.

The production values, camera work and flow are all top notch, but I've learned the best part of the CBS News is a Friday segment called “On the Road”. Too bad it's only a few minutes long. Maybe I'll try ABC for a week.

September 22, 2013

Military Industrial Complex Ain't Just the Military


Letter to editor in the Columbus Dispatch today:

I find it totally unbelieveable that Ohio State University, a tax-supported state institution of higher learning, would require the use of a Maxxpro (Navistar) Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicle to patrol its Columbus campus.

First, who does the OSU police department think it needs to defend itself against: mines in the streets or Michigan fans? Second, who is going to repair and maintain this type of military vehicle made with many military-only style parts, and I am not just talking about oil/fuel/air filters? And how expensive will repairs be?

It weighs more than the legal limit for most commercial trucks, so the roads will get chewed up faster. It will not be able to traverse the narrow streets around campus.

Why do I know? Because I have worked on these types of vehicles longer than anyone else in supplying spare parts for the Defense Logistics Agency. My statements do not reflect the opinions and policies of my employer, the DLA in Columbus, just me, a taxpayer.

I wonder why OSU would need a .50-caliber machine-gun cupola mount. I would hope the university doesn’t anticipate having to use that kind of weapon against students and alumni. The newspaper should investigate and ask our lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich why we are building militaries outside of the Department of Defense on the taxpayers’ dime. 
From Kevin Williamson's book "The End is Near": 
Here is an illuminating fact: The U.S. Department of Education owns a surprising number of guns—the Washington Post recently noted the department’s purchase of a few dozen Remington 12-gauge shotguns with 14-inch barrels. Ownership of such short-barreled shotguns—commonly referred to as “sawed-off shotguns”—is in most cases a felony for the private citizen, but apparently the Department of Education has need of paramilitary firearms.
in August 2012 the Social Security Administration placed an advertisement soliciting bidders to fulfill a contract for 174,000 rounds of “.357 Sig 125-grain bonded jacketed hollow-point pistol ammunition.” Dozens of other federal agencies—agencies outside the national security and law enforcement departments—have similar squads with similar arsenals, used for similar purposes.

September 19, 2013

Too True

Moe Lane: "I support defunding [Obamacare], but let me be blunt: I've been covering politics for over a decade, and I've never seen 'and then a miracle happens' work as part of a legislative strategy. Absent use of Orbital Mind Control Lasers, this scenario almost certainly ends with the Republican leadership having to decide whether to play chicken with the US economy. In their place, I'd be damned hesitant to pull the trigger, too."

September 11, 2013

Quotes Found Here & There



"It often seems that humans, given our immense variety, are intended to be in disagreement..." Michael Novak

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From "This Town":

Tim Russert would have loved the outpouring from the power mourners [at his funeral]. And he also would have understood better than everyone that all of the speeches and tributes and telegenic choke-ups were never, not for a second, about him. They were about people left behind to scrape their way up the pecking order in his absence. •   •   • The morning begins at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown in a procession of Town Cars and shapely haircuts and somber airs. One after another, the holy trinity of pols, People on TV, and permanent Washington types arrives. Obama is missing a meeting with the national intelligence director. Sally Quinn, an avowed atheist for much of her life, takes Communion, which “made me feel closer to him,” she will later blog. Liz Moynihan, Daniel Patrick’s widow, declines Communion, on the other hand, saying she is “angry at God.”
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Washington eats up the dad conceit. Unusually high proportions of ambitious men—and potential male book buyers—love to self-mythologize through their fathers. John Edwards was “the son of a mill worker,” John Boehner “the son of a barkeeper,” etc. The prevailing social dynamic in Washington—a city of patrons—mimics the quest for paternal love. “Who do you work for?” is typically the first thing people ask here...“A man’s either trying to make up for his father’s mistakes or live up to his expectations,” Obama told Newsweek’s Jon Meacham that summer. 
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That is why so many would-be leaders say they are being “called upon” to run for president, and why eulogists lean so heavily on the trope that God runs an HR department that recruits people like Sunday hosts and yachtsmen into heaven. When Andy Rooney died a few years later, the CBS anchor Scott Pelley compared Rooney to Cicero and Dickens and certified that “apparently, God needed a writer.” (Apparently CBS did not, because Rooney had been pushed out a month earlier.)

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From "Moby-Dick":


Ahab’s larger, darker, deeper part remains unhinted. But vain to popularize profundities, and all truth is profound. Winding far down from within the very heart of this spiked Hotel de Cluny where we here stand—however grand and wonderful, now quit it;—and take your way, ye nobler, sadder souls, to those vast Roman halls of Thermes; where far beneath the fantastic towers of man’s upper earth, his root of grandeur, his whole awful essence sits in bearded state; an antique buried beneath antiquities, and throned on torsoes! So with a broken throne, the great gods mock that captive king; so like a Caryatid, he patient sits, upholding on his frozen brow the piled entablatures of ages. Wind ye down there, ye prouder, sadder souls! question that proud, sad king! A family likeness! aye, he did beget ye, ye young exiled royalties; and from your grim sire only will the old State-secret come.
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He was the elected Xerxes of vast herds of wild horses, whose pastures in those days were only fenced by the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghanies. At their flaming head he westward trooped it like that chosen star which every evening leads on the hosts of light. The flashing cascade of his mane, the curving comet of his tail, invested him with housings more resplendent than gold and silver-beaters could have furnished him. 
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the Yellow Sea lulls us with mortal thoughts of long lacquered mild afternoons on the waves, followed by the gaudiest and yet sleepiest of sunsets? 
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Nor is it, altogether, the remembrance of [Lima, Peru's] cathedral-toppling earthquakes; nor the stampedoes of her frantic seas; nor the tearlessness of arid skies that never rain; nor the sight of her wide field of leaning spires, wrenched cope-stones, and crosses all adroop (like canted yards of anchored fleets); and her suburban avenues of house-walls lying over upon each other, as a tossed pack of cards;—it is not these things alone which make tearless Lima, the strangest, saddest city thou can’st see. For Lima has taken the white veil; and there is a higher horror in this whiteness of her woe. Old as Pizarro, this whiteness keeps her ruins for ever new; admits not the cheerful greenness of complete decay; spreads over her broken ramparts the rigid pallor of an apoplexy that fixes its own distortions.

A Hodge-Podge of Discontinued Items

Sometimes I think political elites live in a different universe.

Because, for the life of me, this Syria "humanitarian bombing" mission is beyond my ken. I don't see how it's even a tough call.  Who died and left us the policeman of the world?  Did I miss a U.N. vote on that?  Why is it ours to "punish" Assad for killing thousands when we kill millions of unborn children?  It's wrong on so many levels, but the irony is that Assad didn't sign a chemical weapons ban while we would be violating the UN Charter we are a party to.

But then this president thinks rules don't apply to him.

Surprising to see "regular Joe" Bill O'Reilly back the bombing but then he's a frustrated policeman (which is why Dennis Miller calls him 'Officer O'Reilly').

Sorry, had to get that off my chest.  Back to regularly scheduled weather programming.

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Speaking of television programming, there are so many bleeps on reality shows that you know the producers are instructing people to cuss constantly.  Which means, of course, that people like hearing other people swear and get titillation over the Pavlovian sound of the bleep.  Can't we grow up?  I don't get what's so exciting about it.  It's almost as boring as Miley Cyrus.

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Speaking of growing up, read a piece on Patheos about a daughter having to raise her mother, how there's a second childhood going on.  Presumably due to dementia, so there's that huge extenuating circumstance, but it's kind of discouraging that late adulthood is often said to be a return to childhood.  I think what bothers me, naturally, is the dependence angle as well as the loss of whatever feeble self-mastery over our passions we may have acquired through the years.  A good reminder, I suppose, that everything is in God's hands, not ours.

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Speaking of passions, our work area lists our birthdays each month in the elevator lobby area. Sometimes I count back nine months to see when the parents had sex.  So juvenile (see my blog title). 

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Speaking of nascent revelations, sometimes I wonder if the order the Bible was received matters.  For example, the book of Job is said to have been written first, and those chronologically-arranged bibles might be interesting simply as an unfolding of revelation.  I'm sure it's not that neat and crisp though since first, there's a lot of oral tradition before things get written down and secondly, we don't really know when a lot of the books were written with any degree of certainty.

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Speaking of the Bible, I love this affective sentiment analysis.  I think it explains why books like Paul's letters and Isaiah are so universally loved versus books like Amos and such being less beloved.

(Other bible info-graphics found here.)