July 07, 2020

A 3-Hour Tour



Yesterday was peak-July, which is peak-Summer, which is peak-Ohio, which is peak-God in terms of natural beauty. So I took the day off work, loaded up the trunk and moved to Beverly...er, traveled to a local metro park and set up camp.




Looking at the other side of the bank always reminds me of Walden, immortalized on this ancient of days Bantam cover:



Headed out on the water via kayak.  Spent about three hours weightless on it, the sky azure and the shade relieving. Songs unbidden came like the theme from the Waltons and the oh-so-appropriate “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers, released when I was 11 years old:
Well, I built me a raft and she's ready for floatin'
Ol' Mississippi, she's callin' my name
Catfish are jumpin', that paddle wheel thumpin'
Black water keeps rollin' on past just the same...
Old black water, keep on rollin'
Mississippi moon, won't you keep on shinin' on me...
I went farther than I’d ever been on the Darby before, which is not to say very far.  Conquered at least three sets of rapids. The trip back involved twice having to portage around a rapid. Would probably better to do the hard part upstream first and then have an easy return trip (I.e got north first). Still, much more satisfying than just tooling around a local pond/lake.

Wild country and gratifyingly quiet for the most part... a deer and two fawns stepped gingerly in mid-creek as I float towards them. Eventually one of the young ones retraced back to the woods, then the other fawn, followed by the momma. Proud to have avoided wasting time fishing out my camera.

Saw shells the size of my palm, one intact clam-like. It was a mussel, a “freshwater bivalve....The Big Darby Creek watershed has recorded an exceptional list of 44 mussel species, among the best in the Midwest for a watershed of its size.”

Saw a snake coiled in tree stump on the shoreline. Post-trip google searching reveals it to be a Queen snake:
“Queensnake dwells along shallow waterways....The decidedly aquatic queensnake prefers slow moving or shallow rocky creeks and rivers where it feeds primarily upon soft-shelled crayfish. These snakes are frequently seen and captured by overturning large flat stones, boards, or other debris along streams. When first captured, some attempt to bite. However, their teeth are so small they can barely pierce the skin. Others make no attempt to bite. All use their musk glands freely and struggle violently to escape. Although they become gentle with handling, they seldom eat in captivity. For this reason, they do not make hardy captives.”
Heard the deep bass croak of frogs, the occasional airborne fish.

Started at confluence of Big Darby and Little Darby and headed south, downstream. Taken far enough it would take me past Grove City and Orient to meet up with the Scioto River just outside Circleville (31 miles by car). The Scioto then meets the great Ohio at Portsmouth scores of mile south, then the Ohio meets...

One can dream.













July 05, 2020

Frederick Douglass 101

It seems this century has jumped the shark but we have it on good authority that God loves even the stupid and malicious. As Ben Stein wrote “We could use Joe McCarthy now. Compared with today’s politicians, he’s Socrates and Abe Lincoln rolled into one.”

Along with the national anthem being controversial and masks being frowned upon during a pandemic, we can add the “crime” of support of David Brooks to the list of 2020 unimaginables by a media liberal on Twitter. I’m constantly gobsmacked by my lack of imaginative powers.

It’s only a matter of time before religious liberty is stripped. But one can be cheerful about it, especially given we have the Faith to tell us that the war has already been won. It’s kind of a mental recalibration exercise but it’s only surprising without the eyes of faith.

The great J.R. Tolkien knew it:
“I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect 'history' to be anything but a 'long defeat' - though it contains some samples or glimpses of final victory.” 
A Catholic nun tweeted:
“The Christian should expect to be regularly crushed under the inexorable wheels of history until Jesus comes again. We are not here to be relevant, powerful, and understood. Our challenge is to simply remain faithful to the Gospel, to love our enemies, and to persevere in faith.” 
Appropriate prayer from St. Thomas More: 
"To think my most enemies my best friends;
For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good
With their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred."
I think the whole MAGA gamble (Steppenwolf’s “fire all your guns at once”) that we could choose something other than options “managed decline” and “rapid decline”.   I was always of the “managed decline” school rather than “hey let’s make America great again and bring back all the jobs!” school. 

Without electing Trump, we had a chance for slow decline (i.e. a 2-term Marco Rubio).  But now a one-term Trump is likely going to lead to rapid decline -- literally with a declining Biden in pseudo-charge.

Speaking of Trump, this line from a book on China from a Wall Street Journal reporter was interesting:
"Relations with China were souring before [Trump] took office. Chinese leaders also deserve a big share of the blame, as do U.S. business leaders, who for decades acted as Beijing’s lobbyists in Washington. Chinese President Xi Jinping was as swaggering about the outcome of a trade war as President Trump was. “In the West, you have the notion that if somebody hits you on the left cheek, you turn the other cheek,” Xi told visiting U.S., European, and Australian chief executives in Beijing, three months after the Trump trade war tweet. “In our culture, we punch back.”
——

So it’s been healing (just as it was reading a Stonewall Jackson bio during the Clinton administration)  to start a new biography on another 19th century figure. 

There’s something quite satisfying about reading a biography of a historical hero of whom you know literally nothing about - in this case for me Frederick Douglass. (Turns out his statue was just taken down because, of course, nihilists take down statues for the reason other people climb mountains: "because they’re there".)

The spark that set Douglass apart was that of a lust for reading, one that was prompted as much as anything by overhearing a slave master say that reading ruined slaves. The natural propensity of man is to favor the thing his enemy most hates (hence anti-anti-Trumpers).

Douglass was only half-black, his white father unknown. (The libs have certainly trained us all to notice race to the exclusion of all else.)

The irony of Douglass being a champion for education is how it is so downplayed in the black community and by white liberals, the former by its association with “acting white” (apparently a putdown) and the latter by those who send their children to private schools and are are obsequent to the teachers unions because it doesn’t affect them.

It promises to be a rich read for multiple reasons: one, the inherent drama of a slave who escaped to freedom and became one of the most respected men of his generation, two, he became a Christian and who doesn’t love a conversion story?, three, because he eventually married a white woman and it’ll be interesting to hear how that came about and went over, and four because it’s set in the 19th century which is intrinsically more interesting than the woebegone 20th or stupid 21st.

June 21, 2020

The Mystery of Japan

One of the mysteries in life is that Japan is not a Catholic nation. Missionaries like St. Francis Xavier came and martyrs died there... it seems a perfect set-up for a glorious story. And surely it still will be, as the story is not done. I pray that the remnant of Christians there now, less than 1% of the population, will be the leaven that gives salvation.

The human heart is convoluted and there’s no sense to it as Jeremiah wrote, but I tried nevertheless. Thirty minutes with Google is supposed to give me the answer even though I’ve never been to Japan, know no Japanese, and know nothing of its culture. But... your heart can’t not go out for them: aging population with few babies, slaves to work after once they were slaves to the emperor, stone-cold killers during WW2 but now in a pacifism profound enough to have seemingly given up the fight altogether.

The chief impediments to Christianity there now seem to be a combination of factors:
1. Christianity is perceived as an import, as a “Western religion” and Japan is nationalistic. “Japanism is essentially a magico-shamanistic ritual/belief and ancestor worship. Also the belief in the uniqueness of Japan and its people, the ethno-centrism that is all-pervading, is called ‘Japanism’.” (From book “Jesus for Japan”). 
2. General distaste for religion in general due to emperor-worship in WW2. 
3. Tepid lukewarm felt banners Catholicism. Distaste for “hard teachings” on sexuality. Little to no celebration of extraordinary form.  
4. 17th century persecutions that worked “enough”, much like persecutions in the USSR have worked “enough” to tamp down religious belief. 
5. Surreal work ethic. Oblate of Mary missionary says “People don’t have time to come to Church. Here, work gets the priority, not religion.” (I’d love to know genesis of this. A result of aftermath of WW2 and scarcity? Or perhaps an aging population must work much harder due to decreasing productivity just to stay even?) From Japanese Catholic bishops statement: “Shared meals are rare...Consequently, there are no opportunities to share conversation. Each member of the family faces difficulties, but since there is no fellowship each is lonely and has little experience of loving or being loved." 
6. Discouragement. High suicide rate. “Many Japanese suffer from a lack of healthy self-identity....Eternal life is not actually a happy idea to a Japanese. ‘Jesus will give you eternal life!’ No, thanks, thinks the Japanese, that is just what I want to avoid.” (book “Jesus for Japan”).

June 18, 2020

Meditation from Byzantine Priest

Nice meditation from our pastor at the local Byzantine Catholic church:
____________________________________________________________
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 


I would like to ask you to recall the moment when you fell in love. The moment when, after a while you got known the person, and the desire grew and became a flaming fire: I want to be with you! It does not matter whether the relationship worked out or not; it does not matter whether later we became disappointed or the relationship fell apart. This particular moment is important. Why? In this experience you have a reflection of the excitement, marvel, and desire God has for you! As you burned with the desire to be with the beloved person, so God burns with the desire to be with you! Already the OT book of Wisdom says:

and hate nothing that you have made;
for you would not fashion what you hate.
How could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O Ruler and Lover of souls! (Wisdom 11:24-26)


God loves what he has created and specially humans. At the dawn of humanity, he saw humans and said “it was very good!” (cfr. Gen 1:31). When we look at today’s reading, we see the same passion of God for humans. Jesus walking at the Sea of Galilee saw the fishermen and called them (Mt 4:18-21).

For the first sight nothing special. Yet, looking at the historical context it is special act indeed. In the Ancient world teachers did no choose disciples. Disciples were choosing a teacher to listen to, to follow, to imitate. It was true for the Jewish as well as Greek world. Among the Jews there was even a kind of elitist thinking, for example, the school of Shammai, a well know rabbi of the time of Jesus, would accept only the well-to-do of noble birth. Jesus is quite different. He chooses his disciples. Something unknown and new at the time. Basically, he comes down to their level, socially speaking.

Moreover, Jesus did not choose the well-trained professionals to be his disciples. He did not go to the center of education and wealth, Jerusalem or Caesarea, Jericho or Tiberias. He went to the Sea of Galilee, a place despised by the elites. He called artisans, simple people, hard workers. The skills and talents they had were enough and good for the service of the kingdom of God. If God called a shepherd, Moses and David, to be leaders and king…then Jesus could call fishermen to be gatherers of people.

However, behind this attitude of choosing disciple and choosing the simple, without requirements, going down to their level, stands this passion of God for humans! He comes close, he comes down there where they are. Where you are. Matthew does not say it explicitly, but Mark does. When he speaks about choosing the Twelve, he says “so they would be with him” (Mk 3:14).  ‘TO BE WITH HIM’ is the key term in gathering disciples. Put it simply: I want to be with you; I want you to be with me. And this is true not only about the disciple, but it is true of you and me as well. Jesus chose the disciple to go and make disciples (Mt 28:19) and promises to be with them (Mt 28:20). There is no other reason of the incarnation, of the God becoming human, just this: to be with us; to be with him.

Last Sunday we recognized that holiness is our vocation and the Holy Spirit makes it possible. Today we meditate the essential steps of this transformation: God comes to me because he wants to be with me! Yes, he wants to make me his disciple and then send me out. But the first step is to be with me!!!!

It is important to stop and ponder on this word, on this reality. To repeat it and repeat it, letting the Word penetrate my heart and my being. In silent pondering we let the Lord touch us. And the discipleship becomes an easy yoke. Jeremiah has a beautiful confession. Let us use it, pray and meditate it together with Ps 139.

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,
and before you were born, I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
6 Then I said, Ah, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth. 
7 But the Lord said to me,
Do not say, I am only a youth;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8
 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord
. (Jer 1:4-8)


In the experience of falling in love we have the reflection of the desire, excitement, and burning desire of Jesus to be with you!


June 16, 2020

Special Blog Notice Regarding the Recent Disturbances

Special notice


Read a very important virtue-signaling message below from our CEO TSO about Video Meliora yada yada's response to rioting and racial injustice within our communities:
Our website has prided itself in building a culture based on diversity and inclusion. Our readers are not identified by race or ethnicity or discriminated against when counting hits or page views.  We also have a policy of not discriminating against commenters except those requesting monetary funds to free a Liberian prince.

While I freely admit I’ll never fully understand what it is like to be a white person other than myself, I know right from wrong and will not discriminate against another person just because they are not, literally, me.

And I know that if any part of my VMPDS team is impacted, it impacts us all, because there is only one person working on this blog. At its heart, that’s what this blog's slogan means.

In the coming days, I encourage each of us to step away from the nonsense, ignore the division sought by the enema, and engage in productive conversations about the weather.  Our goal must be to stamp out "national conversations".  Instead, converse with your family and immediate neighbors only please.

Let us close with everybody's favorite, John Lennon's Imagine:

Imagine there's a heaven
It's easy if you try
A hell dividing us
Above us shared sky
Imagine everyone living eschatologically

Imagine countries under God
It isn't hard to do
Willing to kill or die for
Out of every soul’s due
Imagine all the people living eternally, you
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

June 13, 2020

Fr. Boniface’s Message

A local church, St. Patrick’s, printed in their bulletin a homily by an “alumni” priest, Fr. Boniface Endorf, who is now serving as pastor of a church in Manhattan.  Excerpts are good reminders:
Human dignity must be respected always. Its recognition is the only antidote to racism, and we must respect everyone’s human dignity even when fighting racism. Otherwise, we undermine the very reason why racism itself is evil.Human dignity must form the foundation of our life together, in the field of law enforcement and politics and everywhere else.

At this moment two great dangers threaten our hearts: anger and despair. Anger in itself is good – anger is a natural human passion whose purpose is to provide us the strength to overcome injustice. Anger can be the spur pushing us to work for justice. However, when anger works against justice it becomes corrupted and a vice. Anger that leads one to act unjustly has contradicted its very purpose. In our fallen state anger easily exceeds its warrant to seek what is just and we must be careful not to use anger to justify injustice.

Anger that leaves us trapped within ourselves, narrowly focused on an event, becomes a form of inner slavery. We become bound to the injustice that caused our anger. We do not act for justice but become obsessed with anger itself. Our minds become consumed with what happened, and our passions lead us to act in ways we otherwise would find unacceptable. Anger then becomes toxic and controls our minds and hearts. The only antidote is forgiveness. To forgive is to regain our own inner freedom and to heal. When we forgive, we step out of a cycle of injustice and regain our freedom to love. In our thirst for justice we should never forget love and mercy.

The other threat to our hearts is despair. What can we do when faced with centuries of injustice – indeed, injustice stretching all the way back to Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel? First, do not look too long into the Palantir. The Palantir is an object from the Lord of the Rings used to see what is happening far away. One of the characters in that story, a leader of a nation, looks into it and sees the evil surrounding and besieging his nation. He sees only the evil, not the good, and amidst that darkness, he falls into despair. His despair cripples him spiritually and prevents him from fighting for the good. The same can happen to us. Through the Internet, we can see what’s happening all over the world at any moment, and the sheer volume of evil and darkness can spiritually cripple us too. Despair is stalking us and we must make sure that we grasp for hope instead. Do not focus solely on the darkness! Do not let it fill your mind and sow despair within you. Stay focused on Christ and His victory over sin and death. He is our hope.

We must be a people conformed to Jesus – people who seek love through truth rather than power through hate. To change a culture of hate, a culture that fetishizes power and death, we must change our hearts to love in truth. There is no short cut or simple political solution. Sin and death were not overcome through raw power and violence, nor through political skill, but through Jesus Christ giving His life for us out of love. We are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps – giving ourselves in love as He did. That is how evil is defeated.

You Can’t Serve the Republic and the Media

Given the huge thumb the media has on the scales it seems that most non-liberals to take public office outside of Congress have been fighters: certainly Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump immediately come to mind.

Clarence Thomas wouldn’t be on the Court now if he hadn’t subtly played the race card - which must’ve been hard for him. In a fiery speech he said the hearing was like a “lynching”, drawing the image in our heads of other black men strung up for offenses they were not guilty of.

Similarly, Justice Kavanaugh singlehandedly changed his nomination fortunes by a fighting speech defending himself. In fact, the media painted it as too over-the-top hysteric and thus disqualifying himself on the grounds of temperament.

And there’s Trump, of course.

It’s likely there was some democratic (small ‘d’) wisdom in 2016 Republican primary voters in intuiting that a major problem with the GOP was a tendency to court public opinion rather than to really, really want the job. You can’t have media respectability and the presidency, like you can’t love God and mammon, at least not in the age of complete journalistic failure and our cultural milieu.

Kavanaugh and Thomas REALLY wanted to be on the Court. Trump REALLY wanted to win the White House (not for the presidency itself but for the adulation, which is why the lack of a press honeymoon surprised and enraged him).

Did McCain REALLY want to be president? No, not more than he wanted the respect of the reporters he loved to dish with. Reputation mattered too much to him, which is understandable in that he was rich in reputation and it’s very hard to give up what you are rich in.

Did Romney REALLY want to be president? Yes but Romney is the quintessential “both/and” kind of guy, as in “I want to be both president and admired by the media”. He couldn’t choose, much like he couldn’t choose between being pro-abortion and pro-life, a Rockefeller republican and a “severe conservative”. So he tried to skate just below the threshold of media disfavor, a threshold that becomes increasingly tighter over time.

Trump is certainly a fighter but unfortunately not one to choose his battles wisely, or to limit himself to using the truth, or to spice his fights with more humor rather than rancor.

All of which is to say that an ambitious, happy, truthful warrior is hard to come by -- understandably given the fierce demands that makes on character.

June 12, 2020

Sixteen Hours in Scenic Canal Winchester


There’s nothing quite like the excitement of checking into a hotel you’ve never been before. I still recall a Howard Johnson’s, decades ago, and how exciting it was. I’m not sure why it stood out to my then ten year old mind. Probably for the slimmest of reasons, like it had a nice pool or a decent continental breakfast. My memory says we were on our way back home from a trip and were looking for a place to stay and finally found one and so were relieved to be done (for the day) traveling.

So today we drove a half-hour to Canal Winchester, perhaps the most unremarkable looking suburb of the many unremarkable suburbs that surround Columbus. Still, even a town of 7,000 souls has history and mystery:
Canal Winchester was founded in 1828 by Reuben Dove and John Colman. When construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal came through Dove's wheat field, he wanted to sue the state. The canal workmen instead convinced him that he would be better off laying out a town, because the area was midway between Columbus and Lancaster. On November 4, 1828, Reuben Dove recorded the first plat for Winchester, Ohio, named after Dove’s father's hometown of Winchester, Virginia.
Winchester flourished because of agriculture and transportation. The Ohio and Erie Canal brought passengers, freight and a means to transport grain to market. The first canal boat floated through Winchester in 1831. The village was named Canal Winchester when the post office was established in 1841, because there were five other locations in the state named Winchester.
The reason for the destination was Brewdog brewery and the hotel Doghouse.  (Dog-friendly, naturally).

Check-in wasn’t easy as canine Max was going nuts, barking so hard I couldn’t hear the lady at the counter. I said “act like you’ve been to a hotel before” without effect. No manners.  In fairness, they don’t get out much.

The dogs and I walked in high summer weather along the pond outside our patio with Maris sniffing things like me inhaling the scent of old books and Nordic Max mainly looking for other dogs and trying not to overheat. I carried and drank from my “free” beer (free for the price of a share of Brewdog stock). My wife begged off the hike saying it was far too hot (which it was).

Now I’m sitting in an Adirondack chair on our private patio overlooking the pond. Ahhhh... and drinking from essentially limitless beer tap, an 11-pint in-room number featuring the dependably delicious Brewdog Hazy Jane. (Surprisingly my wife likes it but she’s got two freebies as it is, a Clockwork Tangerine and a Lost Lager. )

We ordered room service and while waiting I picked up a flight of four beers from the bar including a fine Jet Expresso Nitro Stout (9), an Ace Mandarin (7), an Indolence (1; a sour beer and undrinkable), and an East Coast Crush (9). This is the adult equivalent of a kid in a candy shop.

They have a small refrigerator in the main room and another in the bathroom called “shower beer”, complete with a huggie mounted above the sink to keep your beer cold while brushing your teeth or going to the bathroom.  Not that you could drink a beer while going to the bathroom or brushing your teeth although the latter might be hard.

The hotel lobby was empty when I went out to order my flight so I let Max run wild and free they said dogs had to be on a leash. Surprisingly he responded to my whistles like I was a trainer at the Westminster dog show.

This is my kind of vacation: sitting around drinking beer. It’s funny how factories seem so boring except for the factory that makes something you really, really like - be it beer or books or church cardinals. Then you might actually want to tour that factory even at the risk of taking the mystery out of it.

It’s neat they also offer to deliver to you room any of a dozen books on beer and brewing. I assume it’s only to borrow, not keep.... Unless you have to pay for them.

Unfortunately it’s going to storm any minute so the three short dog walks I did in the 90-degree weather since getting here will swiftly come to an end, as will my sitting on this patio. But we had full sun for almost two hours. According to my rain app, I have just five minutes, and severe weather sirens just went off so, on paper at least, I should go in. No time for a cigar.

(The sirens were tornado warnings; a Doghouse employee came to our door not with our room service order but to ask us to shelter in the bathroom away from the windows - my wife thought it was funny that I asked her if she got our food order while a tornado was happening. Priorities...).

Day 2

At first light Max felt it was time to get up (around 6am).  In part probably because the door shade wouldn’t close (there was a remote for it but it didn’t work, alas) so we had a flood of light coming in at dawn.

The other less-than-ideal thing about the place is that the door to the patio automatically locks and you can’t get in even with your room key.  So that led to a lot of awkward propping of door, often with dogs in tow.  Pirouettes worthy of Bill Luse’s daughter, one-footed movements of carpet desperately pulled towards the crack of the door to save lock-out disaster. If I’d been smarter I'd have just found something to prop it an inch and left it open full-time.

I took the dogs on a tiny 6:30am walk.  Enjoyed coffees delivered to our room out on patio; slightly cool for this time of year at 63 degrees!  Max went nuts went someone walked by and a full cup of coffee spilled.  Right on time, at 9:30, our complimentary breakfast arrived and it was awesome: bacon, eggs, toast and fruit cup. And another coffee.

I’m surprised this turned out to be as “pastoral” a vacation as it was.  Helped by going mid-week no doubt, which cut down on the crowds. But I didn’t realize there’d be a pond with frogs, an egret, ducks, geese and and a tannin colored ground hog.

Felt a bit lethargic after all that beer the night before and still our tap runneth over.  Ended up filling a jug, and about 8 additional cups worth this morning. Poured them into cups with lids and then placed them carefully in a Tupperware-type case.  So I should drink for “free” tonight as well, assuming the beer isn’t terribly flat.

So nice mini-vocational. We didn’t even take time to do the brewery tour but I figure I can do that next time.












June 04, 2020

Protest Rioting, aka High School

I remember the business lunches at the high school cafeteria.

We were little workers clocking in at 7:30 and out promptly at 3. Sophisticates we thought, worldly wise and jaded, gathering at the lunch room. There was sloe Mr. Ed, Erik, John D. and me. Rags and Sued joined us too most days when they weren’t in some kind of trouble.

Like Flintstone characters we’d gather at our table next to the north window, our rep ties pulled rakishly aside, imagining ourselves a bunch of Earl Flynns only here for the money only there wasn’t any.

We’d sit down to brown-bag and cafeteria lunches and smash each other’s food if someone let down their guard. Had anything been as satisfying to that point as smashing John D's cupcakes?

To set food flying required, of course, the sacrifice of the food.  But a worthy one. Oft I’d ponder the merits of eating a Ding-Dong or throwing it, and as often as not it would be wing’d freely in the spritz’d high schoolian air! Aloft it went ! - towards places unknown, for as soon as it left my hand I’d be engrossed in a speck on the cafe table top. My comrades would relay its splendiferous effects on the target I’d chosen.

We were all rioters then with the same spirit of bourgeois decadence that inflames the cool crowd now.  With deadlier consequence now but no less asinine.

June 03, 2020

Let Us Now Praise Donald Trump

Trump has done a good job as president thus far, far better than I ever expected - if one chooses to avoid obsessing over his tweets, coarseness, insecurities, and narcissism.

He's not led us into wars, he's not tanked the economy, he did a mediocre job on the virus but likely little different than Bush or Obama would've done. He probably he hasn't improved race relations (though he'll probably get more black votes than any other recent GOP presidential candidate), but neither did Obama or Bush.

Personally, I'll take Trump's boorish qualities any day over the elitists who allowed China into the WTO and take over our manufacturing, got us into multiple wars, were of questionable judgement on justices to the Supreme Court (Harriet Miers?), or ended up dividing the country nearly as much as Trump (Bush, Obama).

So I don’t understand all the attention to Trump’s words and tweets. He's not a person to take seriously in that regard.  His faults have long been on full display - how are they still “news”? His transparency is an inadvertent service to the country, a cautionary tale. Every transgression is duly punished, every tweet mocked and criticized by media elites. Even some non-transgressions got punished, such as impeachment for the Russia hoax.

Nor do I understand why George W. Bush got so much credit for stating the obvious in his famous bullhorn speech at the site of the World Trade Centers after 9/11.

Is their any hard data that the bully pulpit can do anything dramatic? Even the great leader Lincoln could not avoid the bloodiest war in American history.

Actions matter, words not so much. But reporters revere words, so maybe they jack everything up based on that. Bush’s subsequent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were infinitely more impactful than his words. But I guess if politics is your religion then speeches are liturgical. Or it could be that people just want to be inspired and expect their president to inspire them because they look to him as a father figure.

I just feels like it’s magical thinking to think any president’s words have any long or medium term effect on rioting, race relations, the economy, etc... you name it. Trump spoke at the March for Life rally in January and it appears to have had little effect in banishing abortion.

____

The Athletic magazine has an interesting candid discussion with a group of ex-MLB players and a revealing comment was made by former all-star Torri Hunter:
"Let me tell you something about baseball players. People from the Dominican, Venezuela, Asia, white, black they come together and you know why they play together? Because they've got a common goal: We've got to win the World Series. And guess what: everyone says, 'Let's go..'...

America has no goal. We have nothing we're trying to reach. That's why we're all over the place."
This is pretty genius description of America today. We have no goal. Neither the micro goal of better policing towards minorities, nor the macro goal of a Christian nation trying to get to Heaven. No Eschatology, no goal.

____

From the Wall Street Journal:
"Unions like the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis fight to shield their members from punishment, both through contract negotiations and disciplinary hearings, saying that neither top police officials nor the public understands how dangerous their jobs are."

It's funny how the polarization on the Floyd killing isn't where it should be, that of police unions protecting bad cops. That's because GOP is anti-union but pro-cop and Dems anti-cop but pro-union. So we miss why even the Floyd killer had the opportunity to kill.

May 27, 2020

Seven Takes

Talked to my boss in one-on-one and quizzed him on his take on the virus and how big his circle is. His parents are very que sera, sera, while his wife’s parents very strict. He had planned to go to Hilton Head in late July with her family and relatives but now not only are her parents begging off but asking the other family members not to go. He said he will go if no one else does.

The virus is understandably polarizing given the uncertainty. (That mask-wearing is polarizing just seems weird to me.)   I’m more relaxed now about the idea of our circle being widened: When the virus isn’t exponential in terms of growth - when it takes “breaks” (like infecting only a hundred a day in Franklin County) - then we have to take advantage. We might have a decent window, maybe till November, before the second wave and there’ll be time enough for quarantine then.

At the risk of jinx, it’s the best of all possible virus worlds right now: Summer (which is better for keeping the virus down), no big super-spreading events, and a merely linear viral increase. From what I’ve read, it’s possible 80% of the virus cases were caused by 20% events, big things like Mardi Gras and such. So by America simply limiting gatherings to under 50 we might get away with just the drumbeat of a slow viral increase. 


Read the latest issue of Gilbert, the Chesterton magazine. Interesting despite the lack of quotes from GK on the plague of his time (1918 flu). He was discouraged from publishing anything on it since they didn’t want the Germans to know how they were suffering given it could give them an advantage in WWI. In characteristically saintly fashion he looked upon his catching that flu as saying it allowed him solidarity with all those others suffering a similar fate.
___

The biggest non-story in the constant drumbeat of political non-stories is Trump’s feud-tweets concerning Joe Scarborough.  How anyone could take Trump seriously when he does that stuff is beyond me. It’s as newsworthy as a child having a tantrum.

___

Spectacularly beautiful summer day in May. Late linger-evenings that contain not a whiff of chill -- and not a mosquito to be found. The royal blanket of grass and trees and farm field (ok, newly planted garden). The dogs hungover from the walk in the heat, tongues askew like Otis Taylor’s cap.

Is it merely an “age thing” that my sense of the seasons has moved stage left on the calendar? When I was a kid summer was June 5, and June 5 was summer (where June 5th represents the quintessential last day of grammar school then). It was as black and white as it gets. Fall was Sept 1, or whenever we started back to school. Winter began on Thanksgiving weekend and ended in April. Summer lasted 3 months, Winter 4.5 months, Spring 2 months, and Fall 2.5 months.

Now I’m more sensitive to the weather aspects, the quality of light, the heat or cool, the length of days and interplay of all. (And I don’t go to school. And I live more closely to the baseball season -- I would prefer living the liturgical one).

Spring can feel as early as late February now when the first light from the east graces the sunroom. It can linger till June; it has “graduated” to a lengthier season.

Summer abates at a later felt-date, maybe the end of September even though there’s the deep bone-sense of the writing being on the wall. Winter has shrunk its talons to a mere December to February fling, maybe 2.5 months, or whenever spring training starts and I can watch meaningless games from sunny locales. And that leaves Fall with a brief Oct-Nov timeline.

Perhaps part of this could be climate change which seems to lengthen Ohio’s summer at the expense of fall.

So High June here in May, like a high mass. Peak beauty.

I took the dogs on a little mini-travel trip: downtown Dublin, the historic district. It might've been exotic Dublin, Ireland, so starved for travel I’ve been. I pushed them to their Max, which included a many flights of stairs in order to get down to and then back up from river level.

We saw old homes with rock fences, as in Ireland. We saw lovely grassy knolls and historic buildings. We saw kayakers on the river off Bridge Street. We saw attractive (empty) restaurants with outdoor patios, a modernistic public library...

We saw, we came, we panted. They panted.
__

Poet Jane Kenyon on the Civil War:

With psalters
in their breast pockets, and gloves
knitted by their sisters and sweethearts,
the men in gray hurled themselves
out of the trenches, and rushed against
blue.

May 21, 2020

Trump’s Sin: Disregarding the Taboo

Excerpt from interesting piece from David Mamet in National Review :
I’ve been puzzled for a while by the absence in this virulent [Leftist] movement not only of a handy name (for leftism defines the thing only in relation to its opposite) but of a leader.

In the upcoming election, the Left has proposed, and its adherents have accepted, no candidate onto whom can be grafted even the most basic and most provisional attributes of charisma, wisdom, or record (however factitious) of accomplishment.

Why has the Left, intent on destroying the West, put forth no leader, and why has no leader put himself forward to fill the vacuum of power? What does the Left have, in place of a Marx, a Hitler, a Lenin, or, indeed, a Roosevelt or a Churchill? One who could state and embody its principles and thereby unify a country or a party? Perhaps the Left’s inability to propose a leader—and, so, a coherent (even if loathsome) vision—is not a problem but a solution.

The question, then, is: To what problem?

For four years I’ve found the “massteria” (Professor Harold Hill, The Music Man, 1957) around Trump healthy, as energy directed thus was unavailable for the Left’s beatification of a new leader (a führer). How fortunate for the country, I thought.

The national emergency has given me some leisure to think and consider; it was awarded by a virus. My question of the Virus is “Why now?”

The virus could not have spread globally without universal air travel, the national wealth that created such travel, and the disposable incomes that allowed individuals to take trips.

The Black Death reached Europe through rats on merchant ships from the Orient, the Spanish flu was spread here largely by servicemen returning from Europe, and so on, and so on.

Each, perhaps, could be seen as occurring through, or spreading because of, some stage of progression or, say, maturity, in the economy, or, to flirt with eschatology, in the Progress of the World.

The individual lifespan lengthens, and now the elderly are faced with diseases unknown to or rare among grandparents who would have been dead at a similar age.

Traffic congestion, attendant pollution, anxiety, and so on are the result of urban success. The highways take the mass of the newly solvent to the suburbs, the commutes become intolerable, and the old cities die, or exist (all the old capitals of commerce) as tourist attractions, or amusement parks, with the super-wealthy maintaining their skyboxes above the entertainment, as in “The Masque of the Red Death.”

The liberal, elite cities and states raise taxes, because they must, as their tax base disappears. As the services disintegrate, the rich follow the middle class out and leave the cities to the homeless, their ranks engorged by the aliens attracted to the notion of something-for-nothing (as who is not?), which is to say the Garden of Eden before the Fall.

There it is, before our eyes, but those who call attention, like our friend Laocoön, are swept back into the sea, and the wooden horse, inside which the voices of enemy soldiers are heard, is dragged inside the city.

The unabated loathing of Trump must be considered a delusion, for how could one man be responsible not only for treason, collusion, malversation, and other crimes that, though they might be practiced individually, would, in their conjoined execution, each cancel the efficacy of the other (e.g., armed robbery and embezzlement)? Consider that in addition to this endless litany of his human corruptions, he is, coincidentally, indicted as responsible for the weather and the spread (if not the inauguration) of a global pandemic.

A comparison of Trump Psychosis with adoration of Hitler—though perhaps appropriate mechanically, that is, in terms of power exerted on the mob—is inexact in terms of utility. For the apotheosis of Hitler united the Germans behind a shared vision; he personified, and gave voice to, a nationalist desire for revenge, pride, and power, in which vision, and through its supposed benefits, the individuals could participate.

But the revanchist Left is not opposed to Trump as the avatar of the Right, of capitalism, of Americanism (once called “patriotism”). They cannot object to his policies per se, because the policies, one by one, are demonstrably superior in practice to any the Left has employed and, in reason, to any they have suggested. Their objections are all ad hominem, alleging various “isms,” which epithet may be applied, given but little inventiveness, to any of his words or acts. (As they may to any of yours or mine.) To suggest it is his acts that enrage the Left would be as to understand the Islamist attacks of September 11 as architectural criticism.

The Trump “resistance” began in the first hours of his presidency and has continued unabated by either reason or fatigue. There are no dissentient voices on the left, for any suggesting consideration, let alone dissent, have been expelled, vilified, and “canceled”—they are thus no longer on the left. Perhaps in this the disease starts to proclaim itself.

Leo Marks was a British codebreaker at Bletchley Park, during the Second World War. In his book Between Silk and Cyanide (1998), he writes about the codebreaker’s disease: Engaged as they are in trying to break the code, it is their last thought at night, and their first on awakening. Many of them became ill—physically or psychologically—from the strain.

Marks was in charge of decrypting the messages sent by Allied agents parachuted into Nazi-controlled Holland. He was, he writes, driven mad by the suspicion that the Allied agents had been captured and turned—that is, that they, and so their codes, were being manipulated by the Nazis. He could find no error in the transmissions, but his suspicions would not go away. One morning he awoke and realized that the problem (that he could find no errors) was, of course, the solution: It would have been impossible for an Allied spy in Nazi Holland to transmit—in haste and in hiding, risking death—without errors in the transmission. The agents had been captured or turned, he concluded.

There are no “errors” in the unity of the Left, which may be a key to the solution of their irrational, implacable loathing. Trump is hated as the most prominent example of one who’s not afraid to employ reason. He has been “canceled” but ridicules their verdict.

It is not his plans (the Left doesn’t hear of them) or his accomplishments (they are discounted, attributed to others, glossed over, or dismissed as nefarious) that are loathed, but the man himself, as he had the temerity to hold himself superior to the zeitgeist.

The zeitgeist is the Decline of the West, which had been sweeping the world since the American apogee, victory in World War II, and the advent of the most prosperous economy in history.

Things age, mature, and die. Fascism was a 20-year-long dictatorship, expanded through murder and terror. American exceptionalism and prosperity are the overwhelming story of the 20th century; it was not spread by the sword, and it will not die by the sword. Lincoln said that all the massed armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not take a drink from the Ohio, but American culture has been decaying throughout my lifetime, as must any organism. Mr. Trump’s presidency has lengthened the American experience by some number of years. That number will be debated by the civilizations that succeed us, who will wonder at our fall, as the educated once did at that of Nineveh and Tyre.

Tragedy, to be compelling, must address a prerational experience or unity. A Hokusai painting of a wave makes us nod in recognition, as we do at a resolution of a Bach fugue. We cannot explain or dissect our experience of understanding, but it is undeniable. True art creates in us the same feeling of fulfillment, its possible description just beyond the rational mind.

The technician might explain it technically, the musician employing the cycle of fifths, or the painter some theory of color or proportion, but this merely puts the problem at one remove. For, after the technical reduction, even the expert cannot quite answer the question of why: Why, for example, is the eye so pleased by the golden mean? Like any great truth, our understanding of art must devolve into metaphysics or an assertion merely leading to an infinite regression.

The human mind will and must assemble phenomena into cause and effect. We will intuit or ascribe a causal relationship to two events that, to another, have no possible connection: Aunt Edna did not call on my birthday because she’s furious I didn’t sufficiently praise her new frock; Germany is troubled because of the Jews; we are suffering a pandemic because Trump did or did not act quickly enough, and an economic disaster because he did.

Psychoanalysis (and politics) attempts to address or capitalize on our human suggestibility, particularly on our frenzied willingness to assign our disquiets to another. Solutions offered thus flatter our ability to identify a problem, suggest its cure, and remind us to come back tomorrow for another dose.

Drama acts similarly, engaging us in the assurance that the cause of all problems is evident, and that our reason will suffice to cure them. The Bad Butler did it; Deaf People are People, Too; Love Is All There Is; and so on. If we enjoy the mixture, it must (and will) be taken regularly.

Tragedy provides not reassurance but calm through the completion of a mechanical progression. Its end is probative, for it is the disposition of all the variables (the code) stipulated at its beginning—mathematically, there is no remainder.

The journey of Oedipus begins because there is a plague on Thebes; it is the king’s job to conquer it. Without the initiating impulse (the stated problem), the play becomes merely a drama, it cannot be a tragedy, and we take away from it not that peace from recognizing the human condition but the lesson “Do not sleep with your mother.”

Can our current national emergency be viewed as perhaps a classical tragedy rather than as sordid drama? We see that the various factions are fighting over a disordered kingdom; each employs (to its own degree) the universal tools of indictment, incitement, appeal, reason, conspiracy, deception, and so on (assignment of these to taste). Considering ourselves as the dramatist, we can prognosticate an end: civil war, dissolution and chaos, conquest by a foreign power, return to a new and healthier polity actually based on the Constitution . . .

But such an end, to satisfy as tragedy, must be understood as the resolution of that specific problem absent the appearance of which we would not have a play. (Hamlet’s father dies.)

But in our case, what brought about the plague of Thebes?

The builders of the Tower of Babel suffered from hubris. They thought that they could aspire to heaven and raise themselves above human concerns, and that the various conflicting impulses of humanity would go away if we all spoke with one tongue. This tongue, of course, would be that of the builders, and I will leave comparisons with globalism to the reader. But it is no sin to be prosperous, and even the most committed Marxist wishes only to regularize (that is, reduce) the wealth and consumption of his neighbor.

What is the precipitating event or situation whose resolution would be one of those mooted above? We know our current pandemic came from China, and from trade with China. And every schoolchild knows that April showers bring May flowers, Mayflowers bring Pilgrims, and Pilgrims bring typhus.

The demagogues of the Left have discovered anew the ancient secrets of corruption, collusion, and decay, and, like all their predecessors, delight in their discovery: indicting their opponents for their own crimes.

We had, on April Fool’s Day 2020, two events warring for pride of place in our reconstruction of the tragic cryptogram: the pandemic, and the election of Donald Trump. But tragedy cannot have two precipitating events. (See the child’s excuse “I didn’t do my homework because the dog ate it, and my mother has the flu.”) Two explanations are none.

We must choose one, determine how the two are, if not identical, then conjoined (“My mother has the flu, she usually feeds the dog, she could not, the dog became hungry and ate my homework”), or discard them both and begin our work again, remembering Tolstoy’s admonition that the first or most apparent manifestation of an event is not necessarily the cause: The savage seeing the puffs of smoke first might conclude that they caused the locomotive.

The Left insists that our national disruption is caused by the election of President Trump, which affront would be resolved by his removal from office.

But if the successful results of their machinations brought us to civil war or economic collapse, then the effect would be out of adjustment with the supposed cause. (See the all too common explanation of spousal murder: You would have shot her too if you saw the way she looked at me.)

That message was fictionalized in Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand lived through the Russian Revolution, in St. Petersburg, and spent her working life, in fiction and nonfiction, writing about the horror.

Here is another report, by Alexander, Grand Duke of Russia, first cousin to the czar, from Once a Grand Duke (1931):

What was to be done about those princes and countesses who spent their lives going from door to door and spreading monstrous lies about the Czar and Czarina? What was to be done with that scion of the ancient family of Princes Dolgoruky who sided with enemies of the Empire? What was to be done with the president of Moscow University, Prince Troubetskoi, who turned that famous institution of learning into a radical campus? What was to be done with that brilliant Professor Milukoff, who felt it his duty to denounce the regime in foreign lands, undermining our credit abroad and gladdening the hearts of our foes? . . . What was to be done with our press who met with rousing cheers every news of our defeat on the Japanese front?
The message on Nebuchadnezzar’s wall was “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

Trump Mania is not a message, but a key, serving to obscure an underlying message.

The key (the accusations of the Left) disguises an underlying terror—operating here just as the near-psychotic, immobilized by a terrifying, free-floating anxiety, extemporizes specific phobias in an effort to gain some control.

“It is not that I am losing my mind in unnameable panic,” he thinks, “but that Martians, or mice, food additives, or Jews are trying to destroy me.”

The Left’s loathing of Trump differs from their other attempts at constructive phobia in this: He is not an event, a phenomenon, an attitude, or a group, but an actual human being.

He has supplanted previous attempted solutions to panic, but universal and vicious loathing comes close, in its virulence, to revealing the key, and thus the presence of an underlying code.

He is a mere human being who has the temerity to disregard the taboo.

In the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, some brave soul might speak up for one accused of witchcraft; but no one would have dared to say, and few to think, “There is no such thing as witchcraft.”

The Left’s hatred of Trump reveals their code. They here are like the ghoul Rumpelstiltskin, whose power disappeared when the victim said his name.

Trump is loathed because he is feared, and he is feared because he named the monster.

The Monster is the zeitgeist, that is to say, the Left.

May 13, 2020

Who Was that Masked Man?

Kind of mesmerizing to see masks becoming controversial before my very eyes. R. R. Reno has decided to die on this hill which is riveting in a train wreck sort of way.  My kingdom for a mask!

A more common sense idea can hardly be found as the whole object is to prevent spitting/coughing/sneezing on someone or some thing (which can then be touched and spread that way). Sounds like a plan.  It’s almost like the anti-maskers didn’t get the memo that there’s a pandemic going on.

And a lot of the whining is from the right end of the spectrum which is surprising as there’s generally more caution and forbearance than our liberal siblings. (Or used to be.)

Conservatives in theory are supposed to have respect for the wisdom of experience which - in the case of our Asian brothers and sisters - is hard-won via their bouts with SARS and such. That they wear masks suggests we ought have the courage to face that maybe they know something we don’t.

In the past we buckled to the man and wear seatbelts nowadays at no great cost of courage and manliness. Let’s hope we can do the same with masks. Hell, Jesse James wore one didn’t he? He not manly enough?

I’m all for opening the economy and for opening churches and a mask is not something we should be worried about if it works towards the goal of opening churches and economy.

May 07, 2020

Flannery O’Connor’s Thoughts

Excerpts in the New Yorker, from Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal:

I do not mean to deny the traditional prayers I have said all my life; but I have been saying them and not feeling them. My attention is always very fugitive. This way I have it every instant. I can feel a warmth of love heating me when I think & write this to You. Please do not let the explanations of the psychologists about this make it turn suddenly cold. My intellect is so limited, Lord, that I can only trust in You to preserve me as I should be.

Contrition in me is largely imperfect. I don’t know if I’ve ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt You. That kind of contrition is better than none but it is selfish. To have the other kind, it is necessary to have knowledge, faith extraordinary. All boils down to grace, I suppose. Again asking God to help us be sorry for having hurt Him. I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace. Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace, Oh Lord. Help me with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing.

Please let Christian principles permeate my writing and please let there be enough of my writing (published) for Christian principles to permeate. I dread, oh Lord, losing my faith. My mind is not strong. It is a prey to all sorts of intellectual quackery. I do not want it to be fear which keeps me in the Church. I don’t want to be a coward, staying with You because I fear hell. I should reason that if I fear hell, I can be assured of the author of it. But learned people can analyze for me why I fear hell and their implication is that there is no hell. But I believe in hell. Hell seems a great deal more feasible to my weak mind than heaven. No doubt because hell is a more earthly-seeming thing. I can fancy the tortures of the damned but I cannot imagine the disembodied souls hanging in a crystal for all eternity praising God. It is natural that I should not imagine this. If we could accurately map heaven some of our up-&-coming scientists would begin drawing blueprints for its improvement, and the bourgeois would sell guides 10¢ the copy to all over sixty-five.

Freud, Proust, Lawrence have located love inside the human & there is no need to question their location; however, there is no need either to define love as they do—only as desire, since this precludes Divine love, which, while it too may be desire, is a different kind of desire—Divine desire—and is outside of man and capable of lifting him up to itself. Man’s desire for God is bedded in his unconscious & seeks to satisfy itself in physical possession of another human. This necessarily is a passing, fading attachment in its sensuous aspects since it is a poor substitute for what the unconscious is after. The more conscious the desire for God becomes, the more successful union with another becomes because the intelligence realizes the relation in its relation to a greater desire & if this intelligence is in both parties, the motive power in the desire for God becomes double & gains in becoming God-like. The modern man isolated from faith, from raising his desire for God into a conscious desire, is sunk into the position of seeing physical love as an end in itself. Thus his romanticizing it, wallowing in it, & then cynicizing it. Or in the case of the artist like Proust of his realizing that it is the only thing worth life but seeing it without purpose, accidental, and unsatisfying after desire has been fulfilled. Proust’s conception of desire could only be that way since he makes it the highest point of existence—which it is—but with nothing supernatural to end in. It sinks lower & lower in the unconscious, to the very pit of it, which is hell. Certainly hell is located in the unconscious even as the desire for God is. The desire for God may be in a superconsciousness which is unconscious. Satan fell into his libido or his id whichever is the more complete Freudian term.

Perversion is the end result of denying or revolting against supernatural love, descending from the unconscious superconscious to the id. Where perversion is disease or result of disease, this does not apply since no free will operates. The sex act is a religious act & when it occurs without God it is a mock act or at best an empty act. Proust is right that only a love which does not satisfy can continue. Two people can remain “in love”—a phrase made practically useless by stinking romanticism—only if their common desire for each other unites in a greater desire for God—i.e., they do not become satisfied but more desirous together of the supernatural love in union with God. My God, take these boils & blisters & warts of sick romanticism.

It is the adoration of You, dear God, that most dismays me. I cannot comprehend the exaltation that must be due You. Intellectually, I assent: let us adore God. But can we do that without feeling? To feel, we must know. And for this, when it is practically impossible for us to get it ourselves, not completely, of course, but what we can, we are dependent on God. We are dependent on God for our adoration of Him, adoration, that is, in the fullest sense of the term. Give me the grace, dear God, to adore You, for even this I cannot do for myself. Give me the grace to adore You with the excitement of the old priests when they sacrificed a lamb to You.

I have been reading Mr. Kafka and I feel his problem of getting grace. But I see it doesn’t have to be that way for the Catholic who can go to Communion every day. The Msgr. today said it was the business of reason, not emotion—the love of God. The emotion would be a help. I realized last time that it would be a selfish one.

April 25, 2020

Various & Sundry

Everyone is so sports-starved that the NFL Draft took on epic proportions. It was like the Super Bowl despite the promised lack of drama. The Bengals did the obvious thing and picked Joe Burrow making them instantaneously interesting to me - if they play this season.

Most of the players I’d never heard of as I’m not big on knowing offensive linemen from the Georgia Bulldogs or safeties from Iowa, but there was a voyeuristic drama in seeing the homes of these kids as well as the homes of the executives. Jerry Jones skyped in from his $250 million yacht. Coach Mike Vrabel shockingly had someone going to the bathroom (number 2) in the background! You can’t make that up.

Vrabel answered reporter’s questions and said that it was a reflection in a mirror of a cabinet and was not what we thought:
"It’s been a long quarantine over here," he said of the overall setup. "We’ve got a bunch of 18 and 19 year old kids but Tyler was not going to the restroom. He was sitting on a stool not a toilet."
Consider toiletgate solved.

The disappointment was OSU star JK Dobbins not going until number 55, in the second round. Seemed harsh. One magazine had him ranked 38th and CBS Sports ranked him 45th.

So basically the draft was excitement until Tua got drafted, then it was all about looking inside other people’s houses. 



__

Came across a St. Padre Pio quote I need follow more instead of reading bout corona or drafts: “Help yourself during this troubled period by reading holy books. This reading provides excellent food for the soul.”

__

Heard this from a priest on Twitter: “Why is it so hard to convince you people that God loves you? Like, for real, this is the most difficult part of my job.”

Interesting. I think of St. Peter’s response to Jesus’s favor: “Lord, leave me for I am a sinful man.” As well as his later initial refusal to have Jesus love him by washing his feet. Is the problem for many that Jesus is too close to us, as he was for those who stopped following Him after the words in John 6 about having to eat His Body and drink His blood to have life? Is that the appeal in the Muslim idea of a God that is more distant and inhuman?

I learned today that the word “companion” literally means “Bread-with-us”.

__

Ohio health guru Dr. Amy Acton said, right from the get-go almost two months ago, is that the goal is NOT for fewer people to get the virus. The point of “flattening the curve” graph was to get same number of people sick but just over longer period of time. That’s pretty amazing thing, to recognize the virus is so contagious that half or more of the country will get it regardless of what we do. The whole point was to allow the virus to come into society in an orderly manner to prevent a rush on our health care workers. It’s like we’re saying to the virus with the lockdown: “Queue up! You’ll get plenty of time to have hosts and you’ll infect the same number by not rushing. We just need you to slow down and sicken people one-by-one.”

I like the transparency of Ohio’s governor and Dr. Acton that their appeal was not for us to avoid getting the virus but to avoid having the health care system crash and not be able to deal with it.

For me, this virus always seemed to have two options: kill it at the start in early cases, by doing social tracing and testing. Don’t let it spread. Once a hundred got it it would be too late. And by “too late” I surely didn’t see that an option was to close schools and workplaces and shut down barbershops and churches. The point of my obsessive need to learn about how the CDC and FDA botched it from the start was related to thinking that all of this would’ve been avoided if we had killed the virus in the crib, so to speak.

But in hindsight I now think that was utopian and could never happen. We have porous borders, a globally connected economy, a population with a high propensity of travel. There was no way the virus wasn’t going to get in and get large. And it’s also probable that the first known cases back in mid-February were surely lagging indicators. All the testing and contact tracing in February was likely already too late. It got in silently due to lack of symptoms and you can’t trace that.

Wall Street Journal opinion piece said:

"What Amer­i­cans need now is not an­other celebrity ad re­peat­ing the un­sus­tain­able 'stay at home' mantra. They need de­tailed ad­vice from gov­ern­ment about how transmis­sion does and does not oc­cur (do masks help? are sur­face residues a sig­nif­i­cant threat? does in­fec­tion con­fer im­mu­nity?) so they can learn to live with a virus that isn’t go­ing away at least un­til a vac­cine is de­vel­oped."