July 29, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Excerpt of poems found here:
Excerpt from The Four Loves

He listens to the voices in the mist,
he heeds the blue fire fairies that
light his way. His heart is easy,
his clothing light,
his path made simple
by the delight of small things--
roses, lights, the noises of a new-born child,
the sound of waves, the shift of shadow,
the barely seen form
of a long-loved friend,
the familiar curve of yielding,
hoping flesh, all small beacons,
that remind him—beyond this fog
a beacon, a light,
a sun so bright it isn't a sun

Paddling Out

Paddling out shows you that you have
placed yourself in the hand of God.
Mountains shift around you, moving past
as you cut through the aquamarine frame.
Did you know that this blueness, this clarity
this water as sharp as glass means no life
flourishes here? And yet you set yourself,
a fleshly jewel amid the adamantine, sapphire rolls,
and your entire world ascends until the slope
you ride embraces the cloud weary sky,
and descends to where the kraken's eyes
are the sole source of light.
And they stare through you.

Fiction for a Friday

The dusty streets had a fin de seicle look about them or at least appeared so to Jim O'Toole, who preferred to live in the old West through the pages of dime novels than the garish present. He looked up wonderingly at the sky, clouds like soft down pillows, a comforting sort of overcast. It seemed hard evidence that no one was having more fun than him. His daughter Jen was down from 'Frisco and they'd secured peach juice from the tree out back along with rum from the back of the pantry.

"So I'm taking Latin at school. I've taken on the poet Ovid as my principle course of study," she said while shaking the tumbler of ice and peachy rum. "Publius Ovidius Naso. My defacto boyfriend."

Her father looked at her and smiled.

"You're sure a chip off the old block. I live with the James brothers and you the Roman poets. I won't ask you what you're going to do with your degree."

"In a past life I cared about money. I find it degree-gious that people look at college as a preparation for life instead of life as a preparation for college."

"You always were the romantic sort."

Quotable from Jonah Goldberg:

One time when my wife, a.k.a. the Fair Jessica, and I were visiting my parents, we tried to convince my Dad to try some expensive single-malt scotch that we'd discovered. My Dad commenced to explain that he thought all of that sort of thing was overrated and wildly overpriced. He liked his store-brand blended scotch just fine. We went around the horn on this for a while, and then I tasted his scotch and told him it tasted horrible. He immediately responded drily: "Well, then I'm the luckiest man in the world, because I can't tell."
Jonah's father's take reminds me of when I wrote a college paper expressing the joys of a McDonald's Quarter-Pounder, comparing it favorably with filet mignon. My professor, a foodie, was underwhelmed and gave me a C. I got an A on the next paper, and he commented on the surprising change in my writing.

Girl Can Write

Am reading Dawn Eden's master's thesis, a corrective of Christopher West's view of Theology of the Body. Longtime follower's of Dawn's blog and book will recall that she, like many of us, suffers from IHA (intense heterosexual attraction), so this topic seems right in her wheelhouse.

It's a riveting read, crack cocaine to those of a certain bent - like all reads are that involve our sworn enemy concupiscence. (Pointless aside... To tune of Donna Fargo's "Funny Face":)

Concupiscence, I loathe thee!
Concupiscence, I hate thee!
You ain't the sweetest word I ever heard...

West has a very bold philosophy in which he says we ought not shrink from opportunities to practice chastity. He says there's a huge difference between continence and chastity, the difference between being under the law and practicing a virtue. Not a proponent of keeping custody of the eyes or avoiding the occasion of sin, he calls them precisely the moments of freedom when we trust Jesus and "walk on the water" instead of hiding on the boat.

It was especially fascinating to see her quote a guy who challenged West's assumption that Jesus can free us from the effects of concupiscence which went along the lines of, "we can be freed of concupiscence to the extent we can be freed from experiencing death." In other words, the lingering effect of Adam's sin exhibits itself not only in our physical deaths but in the objective presence of concupiscence.

But it's a great debate!

July 28, 2010

Nice AP Photo of Pope Benedict on Vacation...

Art, Links, & Thoughts

From Inside Catholic, when and if ancient Rome knew it would fall...

...Dawn Eden has a master's thesis on Theology of the Body contra-Christopher West...

...and from First Things a look at fertility and suicide rates as a guide to the happiest countries. Israel was off-the-charts, and my brother-in-law says that's due to the strong religious following of most Israelis, but I tend to wonder if it isn't just due to the fact that they're fighting for their existence, ala America during the WWII-era, and that is somehow energizing/enlivening. Their fertility rate may be part of that war. (Or as one commenter put it, "perhaps one reason Israelis don’t want to kill themselves is because there are so many national neighbors willing to do that for them.")

* * *
It seems extraordinary that Louisianans sleep an average of 8 hours and 44 minutes per day. Wow.

* * *

It seems as though Faith is like a brick building that is dependent upon each and every brick such that if you pull one out - say, the belief that something went wrong with mankind in the earliest time - then the building becomes a much more wobbly edifice. Had a faith discussion with someone recently who shrugs off original sin as a myth, but then it seems you run into the unsolvable problem of God being responsible for human suffering. There's also a world of difference between God becoming man and Jesus being simply a man with God-like powers. It's much different to say that someone has powers, rather than someone IS power.

God died for us to prove he loved us, and yet we can look at that turn it around and say, "God loves suffering." No wonder Jesus said "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn." "I died for you and you did not mourn, I performed miracles for you and you did not dance."

* * *

....and finally, the dogs of war. Literally!

July 27, 2010

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

Let your thoughts be with the Most High and direct your prayers continually to Christ. If you do not know how to contemplate the glory of heaven, take comfort in the passion of Christ, and dwell willingly in his sacred wounds. Endure with Christ, suffer for him, if you wish to reign with him. - Imitation of Christ

Faith is the basis of life, and charity is its crown; but hope is its greatest need. Most of the difficulties of life come because man is so prone to lose heart. His distractions in prayer suggest to him that he was not meant for such high acts. His weekly tale of sins at confession seems to imply by its almost identical repetition that it is useless for him to continue his efforts at “a firm purpose of amendment.” ...Failure counts for nothing; defeat, disappointment — these matter nothing at all, so long as only hope sits patiently, stirring the embers, watching and tending the fire, coaxing the flame, never despairing and never leaving the wind to work its will. That the clouds should come up over the sky, or that darkness should encircle the earth, brings no real terrors, for we are sure that the dawn will come out again and that the sun will break through with its golden glory. - Bede Jarrett, OP from Dylan's "Reluctant Draggard"

I agree that [Ms. Sherrod] has great cause to be spiteful...But real transcendence stories are inspiring because it is so hard to overcome hatred when one is justified in hating. From what I can see, she hasn't transcended the hatred. She has redirected it at a different, narrower target. - Andy McCarthy on "The Corner"

Please forgive my misspellings. I am drunk.
- commenter on "What's Wrong With the World" found on Bill Luse's blog under the title "Favorite Comment of the Week"

Baseball. No other name for a sport can inspire so much emotion and memories as the great game of baseball. Football is named after the grossest body part. Basketball is named after something you put fruit in. Hockey is named after bored Irish shepherds who'd hit around a ball with their staves while watching their sheep. Soccer sounds like domestic abuse, and golf sounds like an environmental disaster. But baseball invokes feelings of safety and security, the foundation of nostalgia. - Cathie Glover

Just like parents who "equally" love all their children, as a traveler I don't like to admit that I have a favorite, but I do. Out of the eight countries visited in the Asia series, Cambodia was my favorite. I knew from the beginning that this was a different place. Landing anywhere in Asia makes a recess of an elementary school look like naptime. It's just that chaotic...But as we left the airport terminal in Cambodia in Phnom Penh the glass door slid apart to reveal a scene of utter calm -- just as many people who are always congregated outside an airport but they all stood there with soft eyes and slight smiles. That's when I knew I was going to love it here. I had some advice to brace myself for Cambodia, a country just coming out a vicious and cruel civil war still showed a lot of scars physically and mentally...I thought I was walking into a country depressed and floundering and that the only reason to go would be to see the great city of Angkor with its now famous temple Angkor Wat. I was wrong..There's no reason to pity Cambodia, the people have an amazing sense of themselves and that they are finally going places. I found the Cambodians to be the easiest people to talk to. I call them the Irish of Southeast Asia. On the whole they speak a lot of English, which I wasn't expecting and an overwhelming curiosity about Westerners since it's only been recently that we've been allowed to come. - Samantha Brown blog

Homophobia is real. Let me explain. Fear is not, in itself, irrational. It may be a-rational, but it isn't irrational. Fear is a natural, human, emotional response to a threat; and the world is filled with threats...A phobia is a radically disproportionate, overwhelming fear of something...I have no doubt that somewhere in the world there is a homophobe: a person who sees homosexual acts as a unique transcendent threat to such an extent that it causes an emotional reaction leading to psychological debilitation. I don't know any such person, but I am sure he exists. I expect that should we encounter such a person, we ought to be able to agree that he suffers from homophobia; that he has... issues. The reason leftist/libertine polemicists use the term homophobia is, of course, to paint adherents to traditional sexual morality as, not merely wrong, but as having... issues. Often as not this seems to be, shall we say, a projection on the part of folks who themselves seem to have... issues. - Zippy of Zippy Catholic

Maureen of "Aliens in this World" Lightning Round:
Apparently I used a man’s last name too many times in a single blog post, because apparently my obscure little true crime post on my obscure little blog got found by one or more fairly upset people. I have corrected this, because it’s a bit stupid to have random punditry get a high search
engine rating.

Jane. Austen’s. Fight Club.

Greene County, 1803-1908 says that there were Owenites in Yellow Springs. Owenism was a utopian movement founded by Robert Owen. These particular Owenites were religious, however. I am starting to wonder what there hasn’t been, in Yellow Springs.

I’ve been looking all around at the standard online lists of known Gothic names, particularly of females. Do they include the euphonious and mysterious woman’s name “Sabigotho”? They do not. Theudigotho shows up, though.

Obviously, it’s not right to treat Christianity as if it were some kind of business school, as the prosperity gospel and other sorts of business Christianity groups sometimes do. But among the standard kinds of imagery used by Jesus, business and trade imagery is very very common. (Which isn’t surprising — He worked for a living before He went out preaching!) And since the same is true of big chunks of the Bible, both OT and NT, it’s silly to treat the Bible as if it were completely free of any good word for filthy filthy lucre. But… there’s a pretty big business metaphor at the very heart of Catholicism, and I didn’t know it...Let’s cut to Luke 5:7...Both “metousia” and “koinonia” mean partnership, communion, sharing. Koinonia, however, had a very well-known business sense. A koinonia was a partnership like a law firm, or a fellowship like a group of merchant adventurers. Simon was running a fishing company, and his buddies were all shareholders, joint owners, and partners in it. They had a specific legal relationship to each other and to the company... Everyone who is in communion with the Church is a koinonos, a shareholder, partner, and employee of Jesus’ fishing company, with certain obligations and responsibilities. On the bright side, this means no Catholic is ever totally unemployed. This doesn’t mean that the other connotations of fellowship and community aren’t there, of course. In the ancient world, most people didn’t really believe in “strictly business”. Your business partners were your neighbors, your friends, your relatives, your in-laws — and if they weren’t, they soon would become those things.

July 25, 2010

Over-Spending Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Huge cost-overrun on a local bridge, and the Columbus mayor Michael Coleman smiles and taunts: "Nobody will remember how much the Main Street bridge cost in a generation or two."

Nobody may remember, but somebody will likely still be paying for it.

This seems the new liberal conceit - just spend like crazy, create monuments to your spending and your legacy will be secure. And taxes never come with an itemized receipt for what you purchased, be it a bridge that the architect compares to the Partheon or, far more grievously, a Hippocratic-oath denying abortion.

Coleman's comment sounds faintly reminiscent of the Democrats who, after passing the "health" care bill,  reasoned that in a few years nobody will care how much their bill costs, despite the fact those "costs" represent the ebb of freedom.

Thanks go out to the American readers of this blog for helping buy the bridge, since it was partially nationally funded.
Credit goes to the Dispatch for the story.

July 23, 2010

Detail from work by Botticelli...


Found on Catholic Answers, reminds me of requests for modern scientific proof of the Eucharist:

Q: Why should we believe in God if we can't observe him?

A: Your question reminds me of a question posed to Pope Benedict XVI by a child in regards to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist:
Andrea: In preparing me for my First Communion day, my catechist told me that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. But how? I can't see him!

Benedict XVI: No, we cannot see him, but there are many things that we do not see but they exist and are essential. For example: we do not see our reason, yet we have reason. We do not see our intelligence and we have it. In a word: we do not see our soul and yet it exists and we see its effects, because we can speak, think and make decisions, etc. Nor do we see an electric current, for example, yet we see that it exists; we see this microphone, that it is working, and we see lights. Therefore, we do not see the very deepest things, those that really sustain life and the world, but we can see and feel their effects. This is also true for electricity; we do not see the electric current but we see the light.

So it is with the Risen Lord: We do not see him with our eyes but we see that wherever Jesus is, people change, they improve. A greater capacity for peace, for reconciliation, etc., is created. Therefore, we do not see the Lord himself but we see the effects of the Lord: So we can understand that Jesus is present. And as I said, it is precisely the invisible things that are the most profound, the most important. So let us go to meet this invisible but powerful Lord who helps us to live well (source).
Just because we cannot see God through either a telescope or a microscope is no reason to assume that he does not exist.

July 22, 2010

Hold Off the Canonization...

...says the Corner concerning Shirley Sherrod. She's gone from sinner to saint to sinner so quick it makes my head spin.* I know the media takes its job of building up so it can tear down seriously, but still... Bill O'Reilly, not known for nuance, was the most nuanced in his analysis yesterday by apologizing for the rush to judgment but at the same time not painting her as a saint given that she was throwing around the phrase 'his own kind' and 'one of his own,' as if skin color creates a different genus or species.

* - It's a fun parlor game to write/think something about some issue and then see who uses the same or similar words to describe it. The head spin also occurred to Andy McCarthy, who used a pendulum analogy. Yesterday I was reading some newspaper article that mentioned "The Decision" involving LeBron James as an hour-long infomercial. Check!

Notes on a Day Off

Cellphone pictures from a trip to Schiller Park and St. Mary's Church:

Read leisurely of a novel on the back patio. 73% done now; electronic books are so anal. They don't give page numbers but percent done. The author has some really piquant lines, enough to keep me reading which is a feat in this day of short attention span theater. He also says things that intrigue, things you knew but didn't know you knew.

Later rode the bike around the mean and not so mean streets of German Village. Saw a few big 19th century schools, abandoned either due to summer vacation or declining populations. I thought of how, for all my appreciation for Victorian architecture, there is something cold about some of the schools and orphanages of that time. Austere.

Rode down Front Street and then east to Parsons. Rode by the famous Beck Tavern, made famous by a friend nicknamed Hank. Rode by Beck's School, Barrett School and St. Mary School. Dropped by the famous German Village bookstore and its 32 rooms of book (visited only three; looked for John Kasich's latest but instead found a book of pictures taken by a NYC cabbie of his customers. Lots of pictures of people, from fedora-hatted men to bashful teens.

Later, listened to an Albanian radio station because I can. Thanks to the power of the 'net you can surf to stations from just about any country, like a free ham radio. Supposedly even Afghanistan. This Albanian station is playing a dance song inflected with a Middle Eastern sound despite Albania's southern Europe geographic location. Actually not too bad, especially after surfing to Ireland (rap with a brogue, giving credence they are America 20 years ago), Cambodia (non-musical program in Cantonese), Belarus (I can't remember), Germany & Austria (forgettable US soft rock), Brazil more high-tempo than I was in the mood for. One Cuban radio station played elevator music the other Billy Joel. End up with a Haitian station playing "tropicale". Very island-y and perfect for the vacation mood. Appropriately, somehow, given we're dealing with Haiti, the record begins skipping ahead wildly until someone apparently intervened and put on a different song. Soon there appears what sounds like a drunken woman constantly breaking in and out of the record. Must be the local custom.


At a beautiful St. Mary's in German Village pondered a statue (pictured above) of the Pieta. Among the most wrenching of scenes in Christendom is the Mother of Jesus holding her dead Son. It seemed to reminded me of the Office of Readings that morning quoting The Imitation of Christ: "Let your thoughts be with the Most High and direct your prayers continually to Christ. If you do not know how to contemplate the glory of heaven, take comfort in the passion of Christ, and dwell willingly in his sacred wounds. Endure with Christ, suffer for him, if you wish to reign with him."

Think of Heaven or the Hell of His Wounds, but think of Him. The Blessed Mother, whose ability to love and thus to hurt is infinitely more than the typical human, is a fabulous example of how God cures mental pain too. A great fear of humans is that we'll experience a mental pain too great, but if we'll be 30 years old in our resurrected bodies, as is sometimes guessed, we'll be made similarly whole in our minds and hearts.

Finally I was struck dumb when I looked up far above me, in those heavenly arches above the altar, and saw in gothic script: "Ave Maria ... Gratia Plena." I was moved by the grandeur of it, how elevated Mary really is. (Above the angels! (But below God, for any Protestant readers how there. She's God's masterpiece, not her own.)) And second I was struck by the "Gratia Plena", plena in wholeness, in completeness, plena as in plenary indulgence, plena as in all things good. And I was consoled that I have such a mother, pray it be so, on my side.

July 20, 2010

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant of Variety of Posts

An open scent bottle soon loses its scent. An open mind is often a vacant mind. There is something to be said for corks. - Arnold Lunn

Have been enjoying the most delectable babymoon, which has left me with less than no desire to sit at the computer and compose. The immediate reality of baby's presence transcends the secondary reality of writing about it. I want to be with her, not analyze and analogize (I say it's a word, so there). As we all know, comparisons are odious...But rest assured (and I'm doing just that this week) that I shall write you up a full account of baby's birth soon enough. The only problem is that no one will believe me… - Mrs Darwin of "Darwin Catholic"

St. Thomas says that, in order for us to take pity on someone, we must make their defect, their cause of misery, our own; and, further, that we have only two reasons for doing this:

Due to union of the affections: We are so united through love with the person that we necessarily regard their defects as our own.

Due to real union: We are aware of the possibility that we too might suffer in the same way.

The latter reason, he says, is common among both "the old and the wise" -- who know better than to pretend they're beyond the reach of evils that befall others -- and among "feeble and timorous persons," whose find it easy to imagine themselves suffering. Whichever reason (or combination of both) we have for being merciful, it involves a defect, a cause of misery, within ourselves. It's a conclusion that has some significant implications -- and they aren't merely of academic interest, at least not for people who want to follow both commands of Jesus quoted above. - Tom of Disputations

Self-pity is I think the least Christian emotion in the history of ever..in general, if you have to entertain negative emotions toward the Church.. I highly recommend bitchy and bitter over self-pitying comfort. That's my considered aesthetic judgment and I'll stick to it until you pry my rosary out of my cold, dead hands. - Eve Tushnet

We finally get to find out what Christoher Hitchens loves after a career of sharing what he loathes: His friendships with Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie and James Fenton; scotch, fighting opressors and the corrupt, the English language and the opportunities from his new homeland. Barely any words on his brother, two wives and three children but the most affecting words are dedicated to his mother and her suicide when he was in his early 20s. The chapters where he loses faith in his Left ideology when confronted with the hard realities of the world and the brutal dictators who leave bodies in the wake of their madness should be required reading for anyone whose instant reaction is that everything is America’s fault. Hitchens learned this by keeping his eyes open and we are the richer for it. - Phil Albinus of "A Musing"

Belief you can change in - title of Terrence Berrence post regarding malware known as Obamacare

“A moderate ascetic? That’s a little extreme, isn’t it?” asked John. “If you’re into denying yourself things and then you deny yourself even the pleasure of denying yourself things, that’s got to hurt.” - Arthur Philips "Prague"

I do hope that Mr. Stupak is at least finding it difficult not to intone the words of Lando Calrissian at his disatisfaction over Imperial treatment, "This deal is getting worse all the time." - blogger at Korrektiv

The Catholic Church speaks a lot of languages. I have a really hard time with natural-law talk, for example, and also with Carmelite spirituality, even though both of those are really different! Whereas I respond really strongly to "theology of the body" and, to a certain extent, Christian neo-Platonism. But the great thing about the Church is that you do not have to buy in to any one particular vocabulary. - Eve Tushnet

July 19, 2010

Beer Consumption by State/Country

Ohio averages 31-35 gallons a year which is significantly over the U.S. average of 22, (according to a different source).  Of all countries Ireland drinks the most, at 41 gallons a year per capita, while Germany is second at 32. 

Score one...

...for my brother-in-law on easy money being the cause of the financial crisis. Capitalism always produces asset booms & busts, but what was different this time was that money market funds, of all things, nearly crashed and burned. That was something new and was related ultimately to the securitization of debt, debt that somehow wangled a primo rating from the ratings agencies. (Rating agencies like Moody's are to companies what stock analysts are to stocks - lagging indicator. They tell you a company is in trouble or doing well after the fact.)

There's a rough justice, by the way, that Dems are not getting credit for what didn't happen - a depression - when Repubs never got credit for what didn't happen during the Bush administration.

Meanwhile Larry Kudlow on CSPAN this morning said he now questions his support for TARP.

July 16, 2010

Diaristic Friday Thoughts

Much enjoy my latest tradition, that of getting going a bit earlier and getting "work" done (shower, dress, brush teeth, etc...) so that I can have 15-20 minutes of "play", defined as time spent out on the front or back porch welcoming the day with a cup of hot coffee and a good book before the spigot of heat gets turned on but after the glorious sun has 'risen.

This book had me when it suggested beating the man "by searching for large-tank toilets." The title tain't bad either. (It's Friday, which means I'm ready for a thorough soaking in fermented hops!) Link via Eric S..

Been reading Ben Wiker's book on conservative must-reads and he mentions Belloc's Servile State. And it was interesting because my "wealth", limited as it is, really isn't wealth after all. Paper money and even stocks aren't real, in the sense that they aren't convertible to anything in the event of a stock market and currency crash, both of which are obviously far more likely than we might've thought prior to the financial crisis.

Belloc argues that real wealth consists in assets that can be used, tools, the ability to do things, grow your own food, own your own home & land. (I'm thinking the average handy-type dude has a leg up on me, being able to fix things.)

Part of what makes the LeBroncalypse, as some are calling "The Decision", interesting is the fan reaction. Many of the letters to ESPN's Bill Simmons are cri's de coeur, forgive my French. They really take sports seriously. In a similar vein what surprised me about Lebron James was that he appeared to be taking the hype seriously. There was no leavening sense that the spectacle was overwrought, which I think is because he's Gen-Y, and Gen-X is where you get the irony gene (via shows like early Letterman.)

So, on the subject of apocalyptic happenings, here's yet another doomsday scenario.

At least the article has an expiration date (6 months). With global warming, Al Gore's great-great-great grandson will still be getting paid for it for crusading on it.

At least two things wrong: one, it's from no-name site called which apparently is for hack-writers who can't get paid. And I speak as a hack-writer who can't get paid. *grin* Second, my skeptic hackles get raised when one of the points is lack of press access. Conspiracy theories run rampant on the 'net, which is ironic since the 'net makes keeping secrets very difficult.

July 15, 2010

Various & Sundry

Akin asks (<- alliteration intended): Did Obama Lie? (More interesting to me is what Stupak is thinking now, he whose name lends itself to unfortunate variations.)

Obama telegraphed his lack of veracity before the election, so it's not as though we can plead ignorance. On the plus side, he seems to be doing a good job relieving hope & changers of their quasi-religious belief in him.

I never thought I'd say, "vote for Lindsay Lohan" but I think it fits for this O'Reilly poll.

Funniest thing I'd read on the LeBron James controversy (and please, sensitive ears skip this) was when one reader suggested his comment "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach" be the newest euphemism for masturbation. (Sorry you had to read that but then I did warn you.)

I'd forgotten that Andrew Greeley suffered a terrible brain injury, from which he is still recovering. May God be gentle with him.

I can't help liking him, for reasons I can't quite put a finger on but in part surely are due to his Irish charm and candor. His beliefs are hard to stomach, and he gave several thousand dollars to the Obama campaign. Greeley is nothing if not brave, Martin Luther brave, and sometimes I have a sneaking admiration for those positivists like him who are willing to take such chances with their salvation.

His final column, or what could be his final column, was published just days before the presidential election. (His accident occurred just three days after that election.) It's political in nature, and has a good dollop of that famous Irish pessimism: "Despite the polls, I don't think [he can be elected]."

Sort of odd that two of the better known clerics in the U.S., Fr. Greeley and Fr. Groeschel, both published authors and PhDs in scientific fields (or at least as scientific as psychology and sociology get), would both experience brain trauma in accidents involving motor vehicles.

Fr. Greeley's accident appears to have been worse.

Daily quote, from "Assaulted by Joy":
Being weak is part of the deal when we follow Christ...Cynicism doesn't allow much room for that. It covers up the broken heart we're afraid to let anyone heal.

I think God teaches us about our strengths and gifts through struggles. I think he teaches us gratitude and peace during happy times. But I think joy stands outside the process altogether. Something bigger than suffering or happiness calls us. We need more than a mission statement and goals that match our gifts. Amidst all our striving we need the quiet, steady peace that comes from being attached to something other than our own fortunes. Joy comes from being attached to something other than yourself. Someone, actually...I became a cynic because I didn't believe in that connection. Through my family, God is knocking the cynicism out of me...Love doesn't go away, especially God's love.

July 14, 2010


17,000 book library at Club Gitmo. Not bad! Let's hope none of them contain exhortations to jihad.

(Photograph credit: RushLimbaugh.com.)

July 13, 2010

Ethics of Answering Ethics Surveys Truthfully

Boy, they get you right there at question 2:

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant of Variety of Posts

At salons and soirees I sit
Like a mooncalf and speak not a bit...
As homeward I make my way,
L'esprit de l'escalier
Pours out on me oceans of wit.
- Bob at "Trousered Ape"

The most disturbing line in the Rolling Stone article that got Gen. Stanley McChrystal in trouble was this observation attributed to one of his senior advisers: "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular." - E.J. Dionne

It keeps gnawing at the back of my mind: Is it possible to write a non-genre novel about people like the ones I know? People who live in suburbs and work at desk jobs and have lots of kids and drive minivans and go to church every weekend? Part of me feels like there's something wrong with one's life if it's not possible to write an interesting story about the sort of life one lives -- and yet given that story is founded on conflict, perhaps it's just as well. - Darwin Catholic, commenting on Betty Duffy's blog

Someone give me a good criticism: "You have to be willing to let bad things happen to your characters." I had more than a few bumpy rides by the time I was 15, and it makes me too protective of others in life and in my writing. - Nancy, commenting on BD's blog

I think one of the few things self-conscious “postmodernists” get right is the desire to efface distinctions between high culture and low culture. The distinction between “high” and “low”...too often boils down to judging an activity or an art object by which social-class level of people it attracts — which I think does a serious disservice to the object. If you listened to recordings of Ivor Novello or George Formby songs in Britain in 1935, you were most likely a working-class devotee of the music hall; if you listen to recordings of Ivor Novello or George Formby songs in New York today, you are most likely an upper-class aesthete. So are Ivor Novello and George Formby high culture or low culture? And why should we care? The important thing is to grasp and enjoy what they can do. Similarly, I personally think watching cars driving around in circles is one of the most boring activities imaginable. Does that mean I am an upper-class-wannabe snob, looking down my nose at the rednecks who like NASCAR? Or does it mean I’m a working-class rebel, seething with contempt for the Euro-elite who attend the Grand Prix at Le Mans? High or low — who cares? What’s important is that millions of people have a joy in auto racing that I don’t share; it’s something I don’t “get,” and I am the poorer for it. - Mike Potemra on "The Corner"

My son thinks that Manual Labor is the name of a Spanish poet. - - father of Dylan of "Dark Speech" circa 1990

It felt like a moral failing however to let my kids watch "Back to the Cretaceous" for the third time in as many days, because it's our only non-skipping DVD. - Betty Duffy

Don't hesitate to be as revolutionary as science. Don't hesitate to be as reactionary as the multiplication table. - Gov. Calvin Coolidge (R-MASS) in 1914

All created things have voices and Alleluia is their song. - Paschal Botz, OSB, in "Runways to God: The Psalms as Prayer" (Collegeville, 1979), p. 337, comment on Psalm 148 via Dylan

July 12, 2010

A Gathering Political Meme

There's a trial balloon floating around that Social (in)Security should be means-tested, most recently in a column by Ross Douthat:
The same pattern is at work in our entitlement system, which is lurching toward bankruptcy in part because of how much Medicare and Social Security pay to seniors who could get along without assistance.
What Douthat is in fact proposing is that the government bracingly announce:
We lied to you. We said we would take your FICA money, invest it, and return it to you. We spent it instead.
The table is being set to blame seniors for what was understood to be not a pay-as-you-go system but a savings account. The dirty work of government reneging on its promise could happen, but I don't appreciate the way he insouciantly disregards that promise. That undermines trust (if, in fact, there is any trust left).

It's true that seniors are living far longer than was originally imagined. And it's true that Social Security is unsustainable. It's fair to delay Social Security benefits till 70 or beyond for workers in their 40s. But to suddenly begin means-testing seniors seems like dirty pool to me.

PiT Updated

Parody is Therapy updated with The Decision: We are taking our talents to South-Central Ohio.

Mika of Morning Joe on Friday Night Lights

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski tittered happily today that the right-wing isn't going to like the most recent airing of Friday Night Lights "because it didn't have a happy ending" concerning a character who chose to have an abortion.

The problem with the show in my eyes was less that a character had an abortion than that the moral voice of the show, Coach Taylor's wife (played by Connie Britton), was supportive of the decision.

One wonders if Ms. Brzeskinski would be as thrilled with the show if Britton's character had been morally neutral on the subject dear to Brzeskinski's heart, that of eating fatty foods. It's a crazy world when apparently some find McDonald's food and cigarettes more disturbing than the taking of a life. But then I suppose that follows naturally from a culture that is ruled by the tyranny of experience.

If we can't picture ourselves being in the womb - which we can't - and if no baby can move us with descriptions of their experience - which they can't - then we feel free to ignore their plight.

On Temperance as Respect for Other

Interesting view from Roger Scruton on temperance, although he seems to come at it from more the Greek point-of-view than Christian:
The courageous person does not merely confront danger resolutely; he acts from the motive of honour. It would be shameful to him to act otherwise, and this sense of shame has been built into the habit that governs his behaviour...

Temperance, as much as courage and prudence, involves the motive of shame. Temperate people are ashamed to give way to appetite in circumstances where reason forbids this: they refrain from eating or drinking when this would display them as pawns of their animal desires; they are alert to the social significance of eating, drinking, and sexual interest, and ashamed to behave as though their appetite for these things could eclipse all respect for their companions.

Hence temperance involves acquiring the motive that the Greek called aidos, by which they understood a kind of respect towards the other and a readiness to be ashamed before him...It's a kind of openness to the other, a valuing of his judgement, and a search for full mutuality.
Which suggests that in a culture that lacks shame there's likely less courage and prudence.

July 09, 2010

"The Decision"

So Lebron James is going to Miami, communicated via a tacky 1-hour infomercial on ESPN last night.

James, due to his willingness to take risks and having not gone to college, seemed an iconoclast, someone capable of doing something different. There's nothing wrong with his going to Miami or Chicago or New York but it would've refreshing had he stayed with the Cavs.

He hurt his "brand" (and it hurts me to use the word 'brand' in the typical corporate way but it is what it is), his brand being loyalty. See the 60 Minutes interview last year and how well he treated his old friends:
Three years ago, James took one of his biggest risks ever. Deciding he wanted to control his own image, not just appear in other people's commercials, he stunned the sports world by firing his agent and starting his own company to handle his outside business interests with some of his childhood buddies from Akron.

Asked why he fired his agent and hired his friends, James told Kroft, "I just felt like in order for me to grow as the person that I wanted to become, as the leader, as the businessman, I had to, you know, make a change. Make something that I think could benefit myself and benefit the guys that was around me."

Two of his partners, Richard Paul and Randy Mimms, had no business background at all. And the then 23-year-old CEO Maverick Carter had only a marketing course and an internship at Nike to draw on. A lot of people, including the commissioner of the NBA, worried that it might be a recipe for disaster.

"Everyone said, 'What is he doing? Why would he give three of his friends, three young African-American guys…' - that's what they really wanted to say, right? - '…hand over his business to them at that level?'" Carter told Kroft.
I don't know why he chose Miami, but I hope it wasn't the peer pressure within the league that measures players on how many championships they win. If that's the criteria, then championships become meaningless as star players collude to form 'super teams'. In the end, no one should think less of Ernie Banks for having played his whole career for the Cubs, or Dan Marino for the Dolphins. But then it's not what fans or sportswriters think that matters but what the players think. And for the ambitious among them it's all about rings.

Kudos to Ann Coulter

Real conservatives don't believe in magical thinking or utopias and Ann Coulter shows her true conservative credentials:
Obama hasn't ramped up the war in Afghanistan based on a careful calculation of America's strategic objectives. He did it because he was trapped by his own rhetorical game of bashing the Iraq war while pretending to be a hawk on Afghanistan.

At this point, Afghanistan is every bit as much Obama's war as Vietnam was Lyndon Johnson's war. True, President Kennedy was the first to send troops to Vietnam. We had 16,000 troops in Vietnam when JFK was assassinated. Within four years, LBJ had sent 400,000 troops there.

In the entire seven-year course of the Afghanistan war under Bush, from October 2001 to January 2009, 625 American soldiers were killed. In 18 short months, Obama has nearly doubled that number to 1,124 Americans killed.

Republicans used to think seriously about deploying the military. President Eisenhower sent aid to South Vietnam, but said he could not "conceive of a greater tragedy" for America than getting heavily involved there.

As Michael Steele correctly noted, every great power that's tried to stage an all-out war in Afghanistan has gotten its a-- handed to it. Everyone knows it's not worth the trouble and resources to take a nation of rocks and brigands.
Meanwhile, E.J. Dionne, of all people, defended Steele:
Personally, I'm still hoping Obama's strategy in Afghanistan will work. But it is maddening that Congress can appropriate $33 billion more for Afghanistan without anyone asking where the funds will come from even as self-styled deficit hawks insist on blocking money for the unemployed unless it is offset by budget cuts.

And McGovern is right that the most disturbing line in the Rolling Stone article that got Gen. Stanley McChrystal in trouble was this observation attributed to one of his senior advisers: "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular."
Our Dominican pastor downtown, who rarely if ever talks about politics, mentioned that the U.S. spends more on its military than all other countries in the world combined. "That's a 'kingdom of this world'," he said. Some want us to be more republic, less empire.

July 08, 2010

Let's Play...

...Why's my Bookbag or eReader Equivalent so Heavy?

Cut & pastes from recent reads:

From Prague by Arthur Philips:

John tapped at his computer keyboard with a dramatic rising and falling of the hands, like a concert pianist.

"We’re the [Marine] Corps, man. And I thank God for the privilege...The world works because people—bad people, John—believe we’d fight for anything the president says we’ll fight."

Todd pointed to the Chain Bridge just as its strung lights illuminated and buzzed white against the lemon-lime and pigeon sky.

The very hippest Hungarians felt there were too many foreigners. The very hippest foreigners had the impression there were too many uncool foreigners. The rest of the foreigners, unaware they were uncool, were noticing too many obvious tourists.

at last, John is anointed with the soothing balm of irony: When even his spontaneous grunts are impossibly and automatically insincere, he can only laugh. As in front of a tailor’s triple mirrors, he sees the silliness of seeing the silliness of it, feels the pleasantly dry, infinitely regressing amusement he can feel at his own expense.
From The Secrets of Mary: Gifts of the Blessed Mother:
The monastic path was arduous for clever [St.] Norbert. Old habits and customs are stubborn warriors. Under the disciplined guidance of spiritually savvy monks, Norbert persevered in his attempts to encounter the silent majesty of God. Eventually, when he least expected it, Norbert began to experience mysterious energy flowing from the Blessed Sacrament hidden in the chapel tabernacle of the monastery. The divine energy invigorated him so much that he spent every free moment in the chapel kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.
“One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion is to preserve souls from falling and to help those who fall from weakness to rise again. Therefore, it is much more profitable to approach the divine Sacrament frequently, with love, respect, and confidence, to keep them back from an excess of fear.”—Saint Ignatius Loyola.
Saint Louis de Montfort said of Mary: “Because Mary remained hidden during her life she is called by the Holy Spirit and the Church ‘Alma Mater,’ Mother hidden and unknown.
From Drink: A Cultural History
Keats drank wine from preference, specifically claret. A letter to his brother George in America illustrates both his beautiful natural rhythm and his fascination with the red wines of Bordeaux: “Now I like Claret whenever I can have Claret I must drink it.—’tis the only palate affair that I am at all sensual in. . . . For really ’tis so fine—it fills one’s mouth with a gushing freshness—then goes down cool and feverless—then you do not feel it quarrelling with your liver—no it is rather a Peace maker and lies as quiet as it did in the grape—then it is as fragrant as the Queen Bee; and the more ethereal Part of it mounts into the brain, not assaulting the cerebral apartments like a bully in a bad-house looking for his trul and hurrying from door to door bouncing against the wainscot: but rather walks like Aladin about his own enchanted palace so gently that you do not feel his step.”
From The Pregnant Widow by M. Amis:
Sexual intercourse, I should point out, has two unique characteristics. It is indescribable. And it peoples the world. We shouldn't find it surprising, then, that it is much on everyone's mind.

This is the way it goes. In your mid-forties you have your first crisis of mortality (death will not ignore me); and ten years later you have your first crisis of age (my body whispers that death is already intrigued by me). But something very interesting happens to you in between.

Fifty comes and fifty-one, and fifty-two.. And life thickens out again. Because there is now an enormous and unsuspected presence within your being, like an undiscovered continent. This is the past.

Disturbed loner? Salem witch judge?  No, it's an actor portraying St. John Vianney!

July 07, 2010

Nonsense poem

Summer, I met you in Sumeria
a July eve still hot-to-touch with ingots
of gold dapppling white birches and welcome
winds rustling to and fro..

Summer, I can hear the distant hum of your
Chrysantiums, your Byzantiums,
your palindrones and exit tones.
Insects from afar sing their 90-day hymn
while birds wing loose, crossing
hemispheres with you.

Summer, long days spindle out
generous as seed and ample as bosom,
ladling that seven pm sun rich as
a hummingbird's suit.

On eReaders

I'm stunned by the indefatigability of the blogger at iReader Review. Who knew so much could be said about eReaders?

July 06, 2010

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

[Professor Evans] spoke to me about man's search for God, how that search is the "spirit" of "spirituality," and how it is manifested throughout great literature, whether it could be called "Christian" or not. At the time, I was more interested in how I could identify things as "Christian" or "not Christian," rather than this vague spirituality he was talking about. I was ultimately won over to Evan's spiritual reading of literature by his recommendation of the novels of Patrick White, - Deal Hudson on "Inside Catholic"

I’m always suspicious of vacation. This can’t last...Another year or two and these kids are going to be too big for this, or too busy or...Every year we do the same things, though we’ve forgotten why we do them. We drive to Point Betsie and watch the sunset. We stop at the mineral springs to drink the sulphur water said to contain health-reviving properties. We swim. We hike. We play tennis. Each day a triathalon to offset the ice cream and cherry fritters that are never as good as we remember them being. We drive down Graves Road in the dark and look for deer. And we look in at the three shops in Beulah...“It’s the climate,” my husband says. Morning is Spring, evening is Fall, and the afternoon, from noon to six is a perfect Summer. As the days pass, my oldest son’s jaw, which has been set forward since the end of the school year, begins to recede. He smiles and engages in conversation, which shouldn’t be as big a deal as it is. My kids don’t fight with each other when they’re with their cousins; so much discipline replaced by positive peer pressure. And somehow, everyone becomes uncommonly good-looking as their hair bleaches out, the skin browns, and eyes brighten. My own kids look like palominos crawling on the sand, each muscle set off by sun and shadow. "The world doesn't owe you a trip to the lake each summer," it's been said. Oh, but it does, I'm afraid. - Betty Duffy

I find [the hearings] depressing because [Elena] Kagan epitomizes the kind of careerism I loathe. She has almost always talked as if she knew there was a tape recorder in the room and has always maneuvered as if her road map was her permanent record. Her whole career has been an act of self-grooming. Kagan is not a major legal scholar. Rather, she has published just enough stuff to allow her to claim to be a scholar and for her supporters, in and out of the press, to say she's a scholar with a straight face. She's never been a judge, and her litigation record as solicitor general, while impressive, mostly amounted to checking off another box to get her on the court. - Jonah Goldberg

Kagan edited a medical opinion to give a policy dimension to justify sucking the brains out of children just before being born...The sad thing is the people who will confirm a judge that willingly subverted the truth. Great judge she will make. Even worse is that her subversion of the ACOG statement was used by the Supreme Court to strike down the Nebraska ban on Partial Birth Abortion. - Jeff Miller of "Curt Jester", with more compelling reason of not liking this confirmation

Art, he says, has always been about “trying to alleviate the pain of existence”. Modern art “collaborates with misery as opposed to trying to oppose it”. “A painting by Titian is like a Leningrad, holding out against the forces of the world. Even if they’re having to eat rats in there, they still will never surrender to it. Whereas the art of Tracey Emin is a complete capitulation to the world. Cutting a shark in half and putting it in a tank of piss is just art giving up. I find it very odd when they describe art as challenging, because I always thought art was meant to calm you like a lullaby, not challenge you like some skinhead in an underpass.” - From Bill of "Summa Mintiae" via Andrew Cusack via Hilary White, Alexander Stoddart on art in an interview with The Scotsman

I do not like this Uncle Sam,
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like these dirty crooks,
Or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their secret deals.
I do not like this speaker, Nan ,
I do not like this 'YES WE CAN.'
I do not like this spending spree,
I'm smart, I know that nothing's free.
I do not like your smug replies,
When I complain about your lies.
I do not like this kind of hope.
I do not like it, nope, nope, nope!
- "Chickenhawk Express" via Muellerstuff

At some point, the peak of a dune reveals a civilization of reveling dune climbers. They are still smiling and talking about how they would like to try and make it all the way to Lake Michigan. So foolhardy. So naive. And they don't ask for my opinion, "Is it difficult? Is it worth it?" I feel like a warrior returning from battle to find that those left at home were unaware a war was taking place. - Betty Duffy

I suspect the reason [Evelyn] Waugh prized [Helena] above all the other works is that in the course of writing it, he became a different person. No other piece of his writing has such deep insight and appreciation for a single character. Yes, the old Evelyn is there nipping at the heels of nearly every person in the book other than Helena. However, his obvious admiration for and reverence of Helena effects a transformation in his prose to create a work unlike anything else He had done... - Steven of Momentary Taste

It's funny about the Bronx. When I moved there after living for so many years in "the city," I felt as if I already wore the mantle of the exile, in spite of the fact that I had moved only about four miles. But as any New Yorker knows, four miles might as well be a million; venturing even four blocks from your home can catapult you into a parallel universe, one with strange and incomprehensible customs and a populace that may or may not view you as having come in peace. If the four miles separating you from your old home are inaccessible by public transportation except via an elaborate system of transfers, as is often the case in the outer boroughs, you might as well forget about seeing what begins to feel like your distant, native shore. When I moved to the Bronx, my English friend and mentor John Allitt wrote me a letter in which he commented that "Bronx" was an ugly name, and what did it mean anyway? (Well, Archie Bunker said it meant "the land where no trees grow.") Nonetheless, the Bronx, that most forsaken of boroughs of the City of New York, really burrows its way into your heart. Anyone who has ever lived there will tell you that, for all of its problems, they have come to love it. When I moved to my old neighborhood, people there used to say that it was the best neighborhood in the world. I looked at them as if they were out of their minds then, but now I agree. - Pentimento

July 04, 2010

Stirring Words...

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

July 03, 2010

Various & Sundry

A curmudgeonly moment: Loud biplane passes by with a big sign advertising something. A trifecta: noise pollution, air pollution and sight pollution. End curmudgeonly moment.

Reading diet books is like reading economists's - they contradict themselves endlessly. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "there are lies, damn lies, and diet books." The best way to go about it is to read the book that most closely mirrors your present diet, much the way we read watch FOX or MSNBC depending on our political persuasion. At least with politics though I know I'm right, or at least that I'm on the right. 
The most persuasive chapter in "The Zone Diet" was on evolution and how man was not meant to live on bread alone, or pretty much at all.  It'ss a modern invention as a result of our move from hunter/gatherer society to an agricultural one about 10,000 years ago. Thus alcohol, so time-tested over the millenia, looks like a johnny-come-lately evolutionarily-speaking. So do grains and milk products, which compose about 65% of my current diet. Sigh. I often joke about how I'm still adjusting from the move from amniotic fluid to air, but actually we're all still adjusting from the move from hunter-gatherer to agricultural. Some historians believe that what gave man the impetus to become agricultural was the invention of beer.  The Zone on alcohol is that it's good for you in moderation but that some people simply have a genetic issue with alcohol that results in alcoholism. Something about the limited production of GLA in your brain. It's interesting how modern science is ever creating the case that our problems are less a matter of will power than of gene power. But what that says is that Christ's emphasis on forgiveness was so foreseeing, given that how pre-determined our behavior seems to be.
 There is, or was, in Irish culture a "don't ac above your station." A very unAmerican sentiment but I wonder how much I've caught of that bug. .

I recall a school mate who suddenly achieved noveau popularity, seemingly over night but perhaps over a summer. His popularity with the in-crowd was surely not to be trusted, anymore than old money trusts new wealth. And yet his rise, his seeming self-creation, was as American as it gets, right there in the tradition of Horatio Alger.  Perhaps he read a Dale Carnegie book over the summer, I don't know, but it's interesting how even back then I was uncomfortable with someone exceeding what appeared to be their station.  Perhaps I thought of popularity as preordained as the caste system in India and that it wasn't something you earned, not something you could aspire to. Ambition was to be suspected, even more so when the currency (popularity) was subjective rather than objective. A football player or great student could be objectively have earned their position, a popular person may've done nothing more than kiss up to the right people. Moreover, Glen's popularity suggested that anyone else might be able to break out of the low-ceiling'd edifice of status and thus it was a stinging rebuke of those not popular. 

Read a bit of the preface to Gone With the Wind and found it stirring and very reminiscent of Steven Riddle's reverence for the South and loathing of General Sherman. There are certain Southern cultural constructs that get handed down so faithfully, one being the absolute perfidiousness of one William Techumseh Sherman.

The author of the preface takes pains to tell us how the book was treated like Holy Writ in his household, how his mother read it to him when he was just 5, and continued re-reading aloud every year, and took him to the movies whenever it was re-released. What is it about the film/book that creates such obsessions in its viewers/readers? Why would my Mom, Irish but not Southern, appreciate it so much?

I think part of it is the characters are so well-defined. They are "types" but not hackneyed. They are as believable as flesh and blood, with Scarlett & Rhett symbolizing the New South, and Ashley and Melanie the Old South.

Also been gingerly sampling McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" and it's just too easy to buy it on Kindle and download it and yet, get this, I have a paperback copy! But perversely I've never read the paperback nor longed to, and yet it seems magical on the electronic reader, full of lyrical matter-of-factisms like: "Clouds were scarcer than cash money, and cash money was scarce enough."

July 02, 2010

Parody Blog updated....

...with the case of the seven-year old SCOTUS-wanna be who can't talk about her room-cleaning activities because "it could be a case before the Court someday."

NR's Summer Reads...

...is online now.

Staycation II

Third consec day off work; I could get used to this. If only my real job involved more art-viewing and beer-drinking, and not necessarily at the same time. I don't ask much.

Went down to the local driving range to hit a bucket of golf balls. I felt so professional while putting on that golf glove, though admittedly at first I couldn't recall which hand it went on. Been a long time.

I've decided the main joy in golf for me is a good tee shot, since when you chip you always think you could get it closer to the pin and when you putt...well I putt poorly enough that a 3-putt isn't an expletive in my world. I feel grateful for those. Giving away a shot a hole on the green is probably where my game hurts the most, so I spent most of my time hitting drives. (Kidding.) But the drives I did hit well seemed to have a little tic associated with them - I'd let my pinkie and right ring finger fly off the club at the apex of my swing. It must be the equivalent of a hitch in a batter's swing, or something, because it seemed to result in nice straight drives. But I couldn't force it. My fingers had to let off the grip at precisely the right moment or it doesn't work. I also found out which clubs were my friends and which weren't, and they alternated being my friend depending on what the most recent drive did. That 7-wood seemed the most dependable but with the sacrifice of distance.

Then it was on to the putting green where I took three balls and placed them some distance from the cup and then decided I couldn't go home till I two-putted at least two of them. Many, many putts later it was finally achieved, and I learned that none of the three putters I own are very good. (As you can see, I'm a member of the 'blame it on the club' crowd.) I got to thinking how with basketball I don't shoot air-balls but with golf there's plenty of air ball equivalents. Hitting a golf ball must be much harder than shooting a basketball. You have to have the right club, the right swing, and you have to line it up so that you hit the ball square. A lot that can go wrong.

Post-golf I hit the library and found a keeper: "Drinking with George" by George Wendt, "Norm" on Cheers show. Turns out he's followed a similar path as me in how back in the '80s if you drank an import you were considered a wuss but now he has discovered the flavorful micro-brews. He was inspired enough to write a book on the subject.

Speaking of drinking beer, from the Dispatch:
On Harrison Avenue in Victorian Village, yesterday was "American Drinking Day."

Friends Chuck Drierson, 33, and Sam Everett, 29, started celebrating the holiday at 10:45 a.m. in honor of Drierson, who in two weeks will move with his wife to her native Germany.

Commemorative activities, apparently not found in Germany, included drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, listening to country music and wearing flip-flops.

Drierson's last day of work as a sales manager at an auto-parts company was Friday; Everett used a vacation day from his OSU job in information technology, telling his good-spirited boss that he would be drinking all day.

"It's all about relaxation," Drierson said. "Very rarely do you have a good beer buzz on a Monday at 5 p.m."

Sitting on their porch, his wife, Geraldine Van Gogswaardt, laughed and rolled her eyes as the guys stood on opposite sides of the street, throwing a tennis ball to each other - or into bushes and onto parked cars.

"Already, the stories and the pictures," she said, shaking her head.

"They built a pyramid of what they had to drink..."

Time was running out on the vacation meter and I wanted to go somewhere. I headed belatedly for Cleveland for the art museum. Would've liked to have seen Lake Erie and visited Eleana of My Domestic if she'd have me. Bt this was a single-mission thing. Totally forgot, of course, about the 2-hour meter and so received a $25 parking ticket. Ouch. But with my "free parking" decal operative, aka ticket, I didn't have to feed the meter and walked around outside and came across a breathtaking water fountain with appropriate mythological statuary (i.e. breasts and penises). Also explored a couple of the old churches on the grounds of Case Western Reserve university which was within spitting distance.

Art Museum Shots:

Outdoor statue I

Outdoor statue II

Peacock was early Christian symbol of eternal life; cluster of grapes nearby symbolic of Christ's blood in the Eucharist

Over thousand year old tapestry

Adam & Eve (6th or 7th century)

St. Jerome shown with repentant tear on his cheek; saints are so truly sorry for their sins

13th century angel

July 01, 2010

On Ireland's Austerity Program

Corner post refuting the "lesson" that we should learn from Ireland is that Keneysian debt is good:
Here is the more important point not to lose sight of: Ireland got absolutely creamed by a property bubble that was much bigger than ours. Their budget deficit spiraled to 14.3 percent of GDP — worse than Greece's. Ireland chose austerity. Greece jumped on the stimulus bandwagon with everyone else in 2008. Ireland suffered a sharper economic contraction and higher unemployment than Greece, but Greece got stuck with the debt crisis. All this recent hand-wringing over Irish austerity blithely assumes that if Ireland hadn't moved to control her deficits, the bond vigilantes wouldn't have come for her instead. Given the severity of Ireland's problems, that is a heroic assumption indeed.

The bitter irony in all this, of course, is that Greece wasn't forced to live the consequences of profligacy: It got a bailout. Had Ireland's leaders known that the EU would crumble so readily, maybe they would have thought twice about going the austerity route. But the U.S. lacks even the luxury of taking a gamble. It is too big to bail, which is why it might be wise to put down the dice and back away from the table.