March 30, 2011

Interesting Fox News Poll

What do you think: Do you fear hell? Here’s the response so far on –

17.02% said – Yes. I am afraid my soul could be condemned there for eternity.
11.02% said – No. I believe God’s love and forgiveness extends to everyone.
39.27% said – I do not believe in hell.
27.44% said – I am certain I will be in heaven when I die.
5.26% said – Not sure. I guess I will find out when I get there.

March 29, 2011

Chesterton Piece

Found here at The University Bookman. A snippet:
Due in part to the influence of reading Walt Whitman, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Browning, Chesterton began to regain conviction in the primal goodness of Being, and a consequent childlike wonder at and gratitude for it, that became the metaphysical foundation of his worldview by the mid-1890s.

March 28, 2011

Chesterton Monday

Reading in ye olde Chesterton book, with pages so brittle that to fold one is to mutilate it, I came across this passage about a subject near and dear to my heart: characteristics of Americans (or is that too self-conscious?).

* * *
"The Americans are a very self-conscious people. That is the nearest I have ever got to a generalization that really covers that great and mixed multitude. That is the thing that is really common to the optimism of Whitman and the pessimism of Poe; to the humour of Lincoln and the romanticism of Lee; to the Jingoism of President Roosevelt and the Pacifism of President Wilson; to the vulgarity of Billy Sunday and the virtuosity of Henry James. All the characteristics of all these characters had the slight extra touch of emphasis which belongs to a man who is conscious of his part or (in a more favourable phrase) who knows what he is doing...The English are a much more unconscious people; much more blind and automatic and absent-minded...

There is a great deal of this American psychology in the contradictions of the Prohibition controversy. Nobody can be expected to have any respect for Prohibition, but we ought all to have a respect for patriotism .And American patriotism, while very strong, is a curiously sensitive and self-conscious and sometimes almost morbid thing. The truth about the intelligent American is very simple, but it is not one that he can always be expected to admit. He is ashamed of Prohibition, but he is also ashamed of being ashamed of Prohibition. Even if he would have preferred the movement never to have come, he does not like the suggestion that it has come to nothing. He does not like the idea of so big a thing being a bathos and an anticlimax. It goes against all his national instincts for that queer process which he calls 'making good.' He would prefer that a thing should make good, even if it is obviously bad. There was something of the same sensibility in the old days about the Negro Slave Trade....

For good or evil, Old Glory has got another star, though all men say it is only a spot; it has got another stripe, though the whole world sees it is a stain. The American never imitates the Englishman in simply taking for granted both his own patriotism and his own superiority. The American is still very insistent in asserting that he has a country, les the world should still mistake it for a colony....Rather than that Prohibition should dishonour America, America must even honour Prohibition.

The easy habit of revolt really is an American quality; it is certainly not an especially English quality. It would be harder to establish so bad a law in England; but I think it would also be harder to disobey it.

March 25, 2011

Tidbits on the War in Libya

From Jonah Goldberg:
I think some of us [on the Right] may be exhibiting a delayed backlash against the Iraq War and exhaustion with the Afghan conflict. The Right tolerated mistakes, misjudgments, and staggering military expenditures under Bush in pursuit of a vastly more ambitious agenda. Now, when Obama undertakes a considerably more modest undertaking -- albeit in a decidedly annoying and incoherent fashion -- many conservatives shout "Enough!"

As I've written many times, I think something similar explains the tea parties. They, too, are a kind of delayed Bush backlash. But there's a key difference. Yes, Bush was a big spender and an expander of government, but he was a piker compared to Obama. To mirror what he has done on the domestic front, Obama would need to be announcing a full-scale invasion of Australia.
Definitely some war weariness here. But interestingly Pope Benedict doesn't seem to disapprove:e:
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI issued an urgent appeal Sunday to military and political leaders to consider the safety of Libyan civilians and ensure they have access to emergency aid in his first comments on the U.S.-led military assault on Libya.

The pope didn't identify which leaders he was referring to in comments at his traditional Sunday blessing. Significantly, he didn't demand an immediate end to the U.S. and European air and missile strikes.

Rather, he directed his appeal in general to "those who have the political and military responsibility to take to heart the safety and security of citizens and guarantee that they have access to humanitarian aid."

Benedict said the outbreak of hostilities had sparked "great fear and alarm in me" and said he was praying for peace in the region.

Two weeks ago, Benedict lamented the deaths and humanitarian crisis caused by the fighting between Moammar Gadhafi's forces and rebels.

The Vatican has been remarkably quiet since then, and particularly since the U.N. Security Council authorized military force to halt Gadhafi's crackdown: the Vatican newspaper reported on the developments matter-of-factly, without commentary.

March 24, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau Controversy

I haven't seen the film, but there's some interesting diametrically opposed commenting about it going on:

From Creative Minority Report:
I saw "The Adjustment Bureau" recently and thought it was one of the most insidiously wrong-headed movies I had seen in a long time. Attractive characters, interesting plot at first and God as a capricious tyrant. I'm glad Fr. Barron has some erudite commentary.
From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops movie site:
Though this is not a film for young people, the metaphysical elements of the plot can be interpreted by mature viewers in a way that squares with Judeo-Christian faith.
Under the current movies link on the USCCB site, I think there's the most O--morally offensive movie ratings I've ever seen.

Cool Ad Found

Opposite Dream

One of the more familiarly reported dreams is that of forgetting to get dressed and going to work nude. Interestingly, I had the opposite dream, that of going to work dressed.

In the dream, the new corporate policy was to go to work naked because there was a push for "greater transparency" and "removal of silos".

Then too there was the corporate mantra that we get in better physical shape to avoid incurring medical costs which cost the company money, so the thinking was that if workers come to work nude they'll be more likely to exercise and watch their diet.

Hmmm....I wouldn't put it past them...

Parody is Therapy has been updated with news that Obama is a war collector in his spare time, and that the committee to make Christians look foolish has convened and put up a website.

March 23, 2011

Mix & Match Wednesday

Oh how I love the marvelous technology that is the Kindle! I love a universe in which it's possible to download a book from the nether in sixty seconds. How cool is it to be able to gift someone a book & for them to be reading it at lunch? Given how precious I see reading - as the intellectual equivalent of having sex - this radical availability is the closest thing I can imagine to "free love".

And, as if that's not enough, how sweet to have satellite radio and be able to play, at a touch of a button, some bebop piano jazz? How surreal is that? And while digital music is not the same as being there, it's still amazing to have what sounds like a symphony in your house.

But how does one appreciate the finite without overlooking the infinite?

Finally, it's an invention as old as civilization but beer is likewise a wonder product. If beer didn't exist it would have to be invented. It's not by accident or because of its color that wine - and not water - becomes the blood of Christ. It's a quantum leap from water to wine, and by changing wine into His Blood he teaches us that there's an infinitely quantum leap to his blood here.

* * *

Reading Lenten things that are paradoxically juxtapositional, if you will. Our parish's Spiritual Life committee sent out a booklet of quotations from Henry Nouwen, and Ignatius Press recently put out a book by Fr. Stinessen called "Into Your Hands".

From Fr. Stinessen, all worry is unnecessary. A prayer from Henry Nouwen: "I accept that some worries are part of being human. But I know many of my worries would evaporate if I learned to trust You more!"

From Nouwen:
The radical, divine choice is the choice to reveal glory, beauty, truth, peace, joy and love through the complete divestment of power...We keep praying to the "almighty and powerful God." But all might and power is absent from the one who reveals God to us saying, "When you see me, you see the Father." If we truly want to love God, we have to look at the man of Nazareth, whose life was wrapped in weakness.

From Fr. Stinessen:
[God] is not a weak spectator who witnesses how people misuse their freedom and destroy his plans. It would be senseless to surrender oneself to such a powerless God. God is active love, and all that occurs and is done by human beings is integrated into his all-encompassing activity.

On the secular front, am thrilled by how good Gushin's "The Line" is. Rich novel right in my wheelhouse. It's a pure thing. I nursed my cold this morning by getting under the covers and drinking coffee and reading "The Line" for a half-hour. Just sort of lucked into it and here Steven and Gary, a librarything acquaintance, have read it, and one of National Review's editors tweeted his appreciation of it.

March 22, 2011

From Catholic Bibles blog...

...moving paragraph on his favorite book in the Bible:
My favorite book of the Bible is the Gospel of John. While that may seem like an easy choice, at least for me, it was (and remains) an important book for my spiritual growth. About a decade ago, I was not much of a practicing Catholic, but through various conversion experiences I came to accept the call of Christ (and His Church) in a more profound way. One of the most enlightening aspects of this journey has been my reading of John. Up until that point of my life, I had spend almost no time in the Bible, yet when I started to read the Gospel of John I was just floored at what Jesus was saying and doing. Most of what I knew about Jesus was from hearing the synoptics read at Mass, but John was different. I felt then, as I do now, that John provides us a privileged peek into the heart of Jesus in a more tender and profound way. In the Gospel of John, Jesus weeps, speaks intimately with our Heavenly Father, gives us His mother, and reveals the reality of the Eucharist. These were things that touched my heart back then and continues to do so today.

March 21, 2011

Blog Reacton to Dolan Interview

Archbishop Dolan on 60 Minutes

Origen, On Why Scripture is Difficult

From Sanctified Vision by Reno & O'Keefe:

A Lake of Beer

St Bridget's speculation about heaven containing "a lake of beer" must have inspired this image, also by Bro. Michael O'Neill McGrath.  Found at his website, :

Fr. Martin's Jesuit Guide to Everything

Been reading Fr. Martin's book on Ignatian spirituality. St. Ignatius wanted to be a saint and lo and behold he did, though there were years of darkness and discouragement to be surmounted. What was surprising for me was how Ignatius had a mystical experience during which he 'learned more' than in all subsequent moments of enlightenment. To consider it "teaching" is interesting but in total conformity with what so many saints have said. I've always thought mystical moments mostly confirmed what someone already knew, like the fact that God is love. I thought it was mostly a tangible "feeling" that confirmed what the brain already more or less knew. But I got from Martin's book the sense that there was an actual infusion of knowledge. I always tend to think that the limits of our finite knowledge of God rest with the Bible and the teaching of the saints and Church. And what they teach is that we are to love others, that we're all connected somehow, and that we need to love God.

Ignatius said that Christ taught him "like a schoolmaster." It's likely fitting that God withholds some knowledge and shares it with the innocent as Jesus said. "I thank you Father for giving this knowledge to babes" or words to that effect.

St. Thomas had a mystical experience and saw all his writings as straw in comparison, and it's unlikely that a purely carnal experience could make the great intellectual saint so dismissive of his own efforts. It's as though he saw a much greater intellectual framework, though that's speculation.

The other thing I'd really like to read is why many of the early Fathers thought it fitting/appropriate for the Bible to be not easily grasped/interpreted. R.R. Reno has a book out with a few pages going into that. May have to borrow that book from the library.

Diaristic Wanderings

Went into work for the half-day Friday and a finer half-day off one could scarcely have written for mid-March. The sun is warm to the touch, and only when a light cloud rolls in is it possible to see the netbook screen. Oh but how sitting on the back porch, notebook & Kindle at the ready, reminds me of my days in San Juan back in November or Florida in January. The same little thrill attends though no ocean or pool (surprising how much I liked that pool) sits in the mid-distance.

The clouds have rolled in and funny but I don't mind. I rather like the contemplative air they afford. It's not clouds that I mind so much as the sort of unrelenting variety that stick around for days.

* * *

Isn't it funny how often I remember someone for something as superficial as their habits, such as the way Uncle Ed smoked a pipe, or Grandpa C. smoked cigars? When you're a kid, you're a sponge for incidentals. You notice things that are slightly unusual: "Grandpa always has a fully-smoked cigar in his mouth." Or "Uncle Ed smokes a pleasant-smelling pipe." Of Grandpa S. I remember him bringing Sports Illustrateds and wondering if he'd really read them. At that time in life I'd divided people into readers and non-readers and Grandpa S. seemed puzzling as he didn't seem to fit in either category completely.

The sun out Sunday and wiled it away while reading some Christopher Hitchens. It quite reminded me of Florida in January. There are usually a few days in March in Ohio, maybe four of them, that can approximate Florida in January, but there's no real way to approximate an ocean in Central Ohio.

Finished the Willie Mays bio. Really liked it. It's what I wish the Mantle biography was but perhaps couldn't be given how different the subjects were. Mays was perfect because he has that mysterious aura about him. I definitely feel I know him better now and appreciate his skills much more. I think too much was made of the fact that he had a poor ending to his career. You have to make sure you're done, I think, rather than just quit when you still might have a good half-season or more left. Mays is like this sort of iceberg where all I'd seen was the top 10%. I'd followed baseball avidly only 2 or 3 years of his career (1971-1973) and his last great year was when I was 2 years old, in '65. He was pretty much a contemporary of Hank Aaron, and yet those three extra years Aaron played made him feel much more "modern". There's something about Clemente and Mays, those old war horses who finished their careers just as I started following baseball, that make them disproportionately interesting; they are accessible given that they were around when I first became aware of things and yet they were both suddenly gone, which perhaps gave them an enticing air of mystery that say a Frank Robinson or Hank Aaron didn't have.

Also read some of GK Chesterton's "Generally Speaking". Looking forward to the release of "new" Chesterton in the form of the Ignatius Press vol. 36 of his collected works. The release date is Friday. One of the fun things about GK is that you can read great things that everyone has read (Orthodoxy, Heretics, Father Brown) or things that nearly no one has read (like some of the Illustrated News columns that are in this volume 36). Of course the quality varies, but it's still cool to feel as though you're wading in an ocean. I'm amazed anyone could write as much as Chesterton and still have time to have read widely. If I were rich I'm sure I'd buy all 36 volumes. That may cost, what, $720-ish? But I'd never have time to read them all of course.

* * *

Liturgy today at St. John's ("part of the liturgy is the coffee and donuts over at the social hall afterwards," the priest said, to my disbelief and chagrin. He has an unfailing way of making me feel guilty in his post-Communion asides). The Byzantine liturgy was powerful as always, if only to hear a miracle story as the gospel (instead of a didactic one) and to see, in the stained glass window, the scene of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. One needs as many miracle stories as possible in my opinion. I also liked Fr's mentioning how Sunday you get to start over, wipe the slate clean. Fr. loves - LOVES - the Beatitudes, which is why we say them every Sunday unlike many Byzantine parishes. I'm less fond of them, seeing them as a general indictment of me, but he says it reminds him that we can start fresh, anew. "Christ's first homily begins with the words, 'Blessed are you'."

March 18, 2011

Apollo and Daphne

My Andy Rooney Impersonation, Commenting on the Catholic Blog List

Was going through a list of bookmarked sites and happened across this Top 200 Catholic Blogs list.

Of the top ten, I only read numbers 4 & 5 with any regularity.

There's a pretty steep drop-off almost immediately - from over six thousand to below two thousand in just eight steps. Then after the top 20 we're into the hundreds.

To have hundreds of google subscribers is impressive but it still seems to be a "niche within a niche" as far as the Catholic community. Let's SWAG that there's 15,000 potential Catholic blog subscribers. That would put Fr. Z at over a third of the total, while someone with 400 subscribers at less than 3%.

There was no Disputations, which I find interesting. He's as smart as they come and is a skillful writer, so what gives? I think it's because he sort of a natural "pox on both your houses" type. He gives no quarter to the Catholic left or the Catholic right. I wonder if we can attribute his lack of popularity to the fact that he makes no one "feel good". Is it in any way attributable to the sense that we don't want to be challenged? On the other hand, Mark Shea seems to loathe both the Catholic left and Catholic right and he's sitting up around number 3.

I'm fascinated by the intangibles (or tangibles) that create blogging success because of what it says about us as a Catholic community and/or what works from an evangelistic viewpoint. Certainly with Curt Jester you have humor joined to an orthodox viewpoint and that's understandably a winning combination.

You could also peg non-news or personal blogs as either "mercy" blogs or "justice" blogs. The quintessential mercy blog was that of the departed Gerard Seraphin. I've thought of Disputations as the quintessential justice blog. Perhaps the best blogs are able to combine the two, to lead us not into presumption or despair.

March 17, 2011

March 16, 2011

German Word o' the Day

Found here, I especially like how you can play the sound of the sentence.

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Steven's Read

I'm sure Steven Riddle won't mind me sharing what he wrote concerning his Lenten read:
...Father James Martin--The Jesuit Guide to (Nearly) Everything. Bought it on Kindle--one of those sacrificial sorts of buying that I shouldn't be doing. But I needed something for Lenten reading, and this one really spoke to me on a level that I cannot fully communicate and understand.
A Carmelite surfing Ignatian spirituality!

This & That

Our long national daymare is over, the basement finished. Actually it was reasonably painless except for the pricetag. There's wet concrete amid freshly expoxy'd walls, walls that still show the darker lines where the cracks had been filled in.

All-in-all it seems a bit of an overkill, the whole, elaborate infrastructure designed for a water-free basement, as if designing a $1,000 mouse trap. Feels a bit of a pyrrhic victory since the goal of a dry basement is not quite as exciting as, say, a 50 inch screen television. (Or in this case, the price equivalent of five or ten of them.) All these ropes and pulleys just to foil water's natural tendencies. It's certainly not a waste of money, I guess, but it puts us "under water" concerning how much we've put into the house versus how much it's worth. I'm sure we're not alone there. Our neighbor has dropped the asking price for her house some seventy thousand dollars over the past six or nine months. The housing market depression continues apace.

* * *

Started to read some of the Pope's book on Jesus but it just looks a tad dry, a bit too academical. His project is a worthy one, to join the early Fathers and the historical critics in a holy kiss (like justice and mercy) but I can't help but think how I read that whole first volume and how it wasn't, to use that dreadful word, too "impactful".

* * *

What struck me in the Morning Hours yesterday was this line from the Psalms: "a vain hope for safety is the horse / despite its power it cannot save" and I thought how you could substitute "money" for horse. Or power or fame. In the end only God can save, can keep us alive beyond our appointed years. Also what struck me was the prayer: "Give us the gift of keeping your word in good and perfect hearts patiently, until it bears fruit within us." Amen!

March 14, 2011

Reveries and "Now-ities"

Sunday's gospel was rich. It was where Jesus was tempted in the desert. First the devil started with something innocent - "you are hungry?". But then we see where it would lead, to a direct attack: "worship me!" It was also telling that Satan wanted Jesus to depend on angels but Jesus said we are not to put the Lord our God to the test. But angels came anyway, which was sort of a telling message that if we seek first his Kingship over us, all else will be added anyway.

* * *

Fine restorative walk after church at a local park, despite the dull location and the cloudy gray skies and monochrome landscape. I fell into the rhythm, my boots rendering the marsh-like ground harmless and despite the clouds there was a limn of sun that made the sunglasses at times a welcome accoutrement. I appreciated the mountain-like clouds in the sky, the sculptured trees and the now thawed ponds. On this day I had no need of the sea or primeval forests, though I have noticed that my walks have been "defined down" by surrendering the ten-minutes-farther pretty Darby park for the more prosaic. But what the latter has to offer is no crowds, at least now, in March. Come two months hence there will not be a private spot this side of Manhattan. I wandered along the empty baseball diamonds and my thoughts inevitably traveled back to Pittsburgh where I re-reveled in all the events: the excitement of seeing Washington, PAs toy-like houses spread over the distant hills; the sudden arrival of the matrix of rivers after a long, dark tunnel; the old warehouses and wharf-houses; the finding of the hotel and painless check-in; the walk to the Carnegie, the bathing in great art as the hours and my coldness melted. Then Sunday morning's wondrous walk to and about the city, private on a Sunday morning as the day is long, followed by Mass at the great cathedral and a quick visit to the Greek Orthodox church.

As I walked old songs came to mind, like "Yes, I Remember it Well" from Gigi. I built up a hunger to read, to drink a lone beer (given the liver-cringing Friday night). Out of a sense of civic responsibility watched the Buckeyes play in the pre-tournament tournament.

Despite periods of nodding off, managed to read a lot of a Willie Mays bio, more of Donald Hall's rhapsodic Fall prose, and some of the sweet words of "The Line", my latest novel (by an Olga Grushin I think). Then an impulse Lenten purchase (the author had me at "in Chapter Two I'll try to explain why God gives us free will"): a new Ignatius Press book called "Into Your Hands" by Fr. Stinissen.

Congrats to the Buckeyes

For winning the Big Ten tourney:

And here's a haiku for each first round game of the Big Dance.

Friday Recap

Hambone, beer sage of yore, and I went to the annual St. Patrick's Day (or close to) Ancient Order of Hiberian event.

The local Hooligans, who recently lost their top-ranked Google status to another band called the same, went out with a whimper instead of a bang. They sang "Soldier's Song," but, inexplicably, didn't sing that goosebump-inducing "Give Ireland Back to the Irish". Despite Herr Bone suggesting it a couple times. But that twas a minor blemish on a fine eve.

It was our first time at the "new" Tara Hall, an old house in what looked to be a bleak neighborhood. A sort of genteel poverty has descended on the once strong and thriving AOH; their fortunes and numbers have diminished as the average age has increased. I like our loyalty, that we still patronize the grand ol' organization even now that there are no Irish dancers or young colleens, no ornate suite of halls as found at St. Patrick church back in the day. Now there is the congenial surroundings that has the feel of a speakeasy.

And speak easy we did, and drink freely as well. The discovery of the fine Irish sippin' whiskey is a thing desired over the otherwise gigantic liquid intake that Guinness might suggest. Frequent trips to the bathroom would look rather conspicuous given the layout of the joint.

The Hooligans set, other than the aforementioned omission, was eclectic. They let their hair down with a rather risque toast, and sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for reasons now shrouded in Celtic mystery. The great Mr. Norris played the tin whistle and I felt that familiar urge to whistle along.

Der Bone is ever the cock-eyed optimist when it comes to Republican fortunes. "Even a toothbrush with an 'R' next to its name will beat Obama in '12," which would seem to be a rather bold proclamation until he said that toothbrushes come in many fine colors and can be very interesting.

We started out at Gordon Biersch which, with its handcrafted ales and good food and atmosphere, seems a fitting place to begin our annual toast. There was an amusing moment when the waiter, apparently not steeled in the preciousness of craft ales, tried to take away my glass when there was still a bit of liquid in it.


....Diary of a Part-time Monk, a blogger who is following a beer-only Lenten fast. (Found via Elena.)

Hard to tell what looks better in that photo, the stout or the donut.

March 10, 2011

Debt & War

Watching Morning Joe as often as I do, I get a daily earful about our spiraling debt and the waste of the war in Afghanistan. The two issues resonate strongly with me and both seem as hopeless to fix (at least in the short-run) as they are depressing.

On the war, I loathe when sentiment ("we'll be perceived as weak! They'll think Obama is Jimmy Carter.") trumps rationality. We still have almost thirty-thousand troops in South Korea; with wars as with new forms of taxation there seems to be no such thing as "temporary".

On the debt, it just seems so symbolic. That we can't do something as straight-forward as balance our books seems indicative of a greater illness, of a failure of leadership and a visible, bottom-line malaise.

Public debt as % of GDP::

We expect more from our leaders. They are supposedly the best and brightest, and definitionally the most capable of leadership. If they can't do any better, then I suppose we can't be too surprised by the much greater evil that occurs at the grassroots level, the issue that Morning Joe routinely ignores, that of a million abortions a year.

March 07, 2011

Sharp-looking Blog...

Though hard to read given the design.

March 04, 2011

Sheen Poems

Found from a private blogger who posts under the outrageous pseudonym Tristan de Night-Ouais:
If only these two dudes could parlez,
The Sheens (Bishop Fulton and Charlie).
Archepiscopal zeal
Can make hedonists heal
And renounce their great love of John Barley.


Poor Charlie the enfant terrible
Is horny and drunken and feeble --
The dude's lost his way!
Perhaps old Fulton J.
Will pray him to health. C'est possible!


Poor Charlie, whose ways are obscene,
Is no kin to the late Bishop Sheen.
But of God he's a child.
May the Lamb, meek and mild,
Make him healthy & sober & clean!

Not Quite There Yet...

For your perils-of-making-predictions file, from the then-CEO of our company, in 1955:
"If the vision of science prevails, the society of 1975 will be planned and engineered to provide a material abundance far beyond anything man has ever dreamed. There will be no wars, and no depressions. Weather and climate will be controlled on a global basis. You'll be on a thirty-six-hour week, maybe on a thirty-four-hour week. You'll either fly to work in your own personal helicopter, or ride to work in a pilotless, wireless trolley, or drive to work on a one-way street at a hundred miles an hour, in perfect safety; traffic will be electronically directed. You'll get your mail by guided missile, and you'll live in a house that uses electricity generated from atomic fuel. You'll have no fear of cancer, polio, tuberculosis, or any of the other currently common diseases. You can expect to live to be a hundred. In 1975 today's deserts will be lush, flourishing farmlands, irrigated by fresh water converted from salt water. We will have found a way to capture energy from the sun itself. We will probably be using it to melt the ice of Greenland and Antarctica, turning those barren wastes into fertile, productive areas."
He adds that what distinguishes man from the lower animals is man's "ability to control his own destiny," (lame definition imo) and fears that this will be lost because we will become servants to our machines.

Chesterton, as quoted in an earlier post, also fears man having too much control as a result of becoming too rich:
And the reason why the lives of the rich are at bottom so tame and uneventful is simply that they can choose the events. They are dull because they are omnipotent. They fail to feel adventures because they can make the adventures.
The old CEO equally wasn't thrilled about 1975 world:
It is not enough to build a world of no disease and little pain, of long life and physical comfort, of short working hours and big pay. Such a world would reduce the average man to the status of a vegetable - or, at best, that of a placid, satisfied infant. I personally don't look forward to a world where every man's a gurgling baby.


Tasty Selections from Last Call

The story of Prohibition:
“[Jack] London, sober, would have written nothing worth reading,” Mencken told Upton Sinclair eight years after London’s death. “Alcohol made him.” That was Mencken being Mencken; in truth, it’s hard to imagine that one man, even one as protean as London, could both drink to excess and write to excess.

* * *

Flocks of women lined up on depot platforms to kiss [a famous Prohibition supporter]—163 in Chicago, 419 in Kansas City, 350 more in Topeka. By the time he got to Denver, he had had enough. “When the kissing is fast and furious it sometimes gets just a little tiresome,” he told a reporter. “It sometimes happens that when some ancient lips are presented I would fain pass them by unkissed, but when I start in I have to take it as it comes. There is no selecting; everything goes.”

* * *

Hobson thought that any woman who experienced carnal desire was a “sex pervert,” and attributed promiscuity to the effects of alcohol. He wasn’t crazy about sexual urges in men, either, but accepted their evolutionary necessity.

* * *

“Like most humorless men, he had to make life into a crusade to make sense of it.”

* * *

Wayne Wheeler explained away the attitudes of the “wet-drys” by asserting that “men vote as they pray rather than as they drink.” It would have been less disingenuous to have said, “Men vote as their instinct for political survival would have them vote.”

* * *

[Billy] Sunday gave shape to the new attitude—increasingly ferocious, even vengeful—that characterized the Prohibition forces as they stood at the edge of victory. No more tibbly-tibbling, said Billy Sunday: “I have no interest in a God who does not smite.”

* * *

Thomas Gilmore, president of the distillers’ Model License League, in fact attempted to persuade Congress to give liquor to the soldiers to “insure the steadiness of nerve that wins battles.” After all, Gilmore explained, “the man who rushes a rapid fire gun should be given the relief from terror that alcohol imparts.”

* * *

Prohibition, Root told his friend Everett P. Wheeler, “takes away the chief pleasure in life for millions of men who have never been trained to get their pleasure from art, or literature, or sports, or reform movements.” One imagines that most American workers, confronted with the choice, would opt for their beer even if the infinite joys of reform movements had been available to them.

How Do You Define a Dollar?

Economics seems less a science than a creed and thus we have Paul Krugman and Paul Volcker in the same profession. As the old cliche goes, 'ask four economists what will happen and get five different answers.'

And this is rather interesting: "Bernanke also said that gold couldn't return as the world standard because there's not enough gold in the world to effectively support the U.S. money supply."

I googled-searched and found this from The Atlantic:
"So Bernanke's definition of a dollar is constantly moving, while Paul's would be static. Which framework is better is a far more complicated and controversial question. We'll leave that for another time, but both methodologies have pros and cons."
Ah, a punt!

Regardless, it's hard to see the gold standard as a panacea given that 1929-1933 was the worst economic period in our history despite being on the gold standard.

March 03, 2011

Cincy, Ohio Gets a Mention

I was listening to Willie's Place on the radio and lo & behold heard a song I'd never heard before: an ode to Cincinnati, Ohio. Recorded in 1967 by Connie Smith (and written by Bill Anderson), the song made it to number four on the country hit list:
One more hour and I'll be home
Close my eyes and rest my bones
Can't be more than a mile or so
from Cincinnati Ohio, Cincinnati Ohio...

Cincinnati where the river winds cross the Mason and the Dixie Line
Heaven waits for me I know in Cincinnati Ohio, Cincinnati Ohio

I guess perhaps the memories got too strong
Grabbed me by the heart strings and pulled me home
I got to thinkin' bout some friends I know in Cincinnati Ohio
I walked half way from Louisville now there she lies at the foot of the hill

Shinin' like a jewel in the valley below Cincinnati Ohio, Cincinnati Ohio
Cincinnati where the river winds...
Cincinnati where the river winds...

Chesterton Thursday

GK says the most provocative things. Hard not to fall into the error of thinking some of his pronouncements as a 'fifth gospel'. This from Heretics:
Life is always a novel. Our existence may cease to be a song; it may cease even to be a beautiful lament. Our existence may not be an intelligible justice, or even a recognizable wrong. But our existence is still a story. In the fiery alphabet of every sunset is written, "to be continued in our next." If we have sufficient intellect, we can finish a philosophical and exact deduction, and be certain that we are finishing it right. With the adequate brain-power we could finish any scientific discovery, and be certain that we were finishing it right. But not with the most gigantic intellect could we finish the simplest or silliest story, and be certain that we were finishing it right. That is because a story has behind it, not merely intellect which is partly mechanical, but will, which is in its essence divine. The narrative writer can send his hero to the gallows if he likes in the last chapter but one. He can do it by the same divine caprice whereby he, the author, can go to the gallows himself, and to hell afterwards if he chooses. And the same civilization, the chivalric European civilization which asserted freewill in the thirteenth century, produced the thing called "fiction" in the eighteenth. When Thomas Aquinas asserted the spiritual liberty of man, he created all the bad novels in the circulating libraries.

But in order that life should be a story or romance to us, it is necessary that a great part of it, at any rate, should be settled for us without our permission. If we wish life to be a system, this may be a nuisance; but if we wish it to be a drama, it is an essential. It may often happen, no doubt, that a drama may be written by somebody else which we like very little. But we should like it still less if the author came before the curtain every hour or so, and forced on us the whole trouble of inventing the next act. A man has control over many things in his life; he has control over enough things to be the hero of a novel. But if he had control over everything, there would be so much hero that there would be no novel. And the reason why the lives of the rich are at bottom so tame and uneventful is simply that they can choose the events. They are dull because they are omnipotent. They fail to feel adventures because they can make the adventures. The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not expect. It is vain for the supercilious moderns to talk of being in uncongenial surroundings. To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance.

March 02, 2011

Huckabee's Folly

The likable Mike Huckabee recently made a gaffe of epic proportions.

No, it wasn't citing the Mau Mau uprising against the British in connection with Obama's background. It was something far more serious and strange. It was that he admitted he's surprised at the way Obama has governed and thought Obama would sit down with Republicans at the bargaining table in '08 and '09. Now there's your grounds for Huck not being presidential material.

There's nothing in the way Obama has governed that has surprised me in the lest. Dismayed me, disappointed me, yes but not surprised. From his rabid pro-abortion stance to his profligate spending, nothing suggests itself as actually surprising. He simply took his majorities in Congress and rammed things through Chicago machine-style. Rat-tat-tat.

A senator with one of the most liberal voting records governed as a liberal. Surprise? No. But it certainly does strengthen the notion that we get the government we deserve.

Dino with Terrible Towel in Pittsburgh

March 01, 2011

Basement Problem Put in Perspective

The old saw about a house being a pit into which you throw money always seemed a sort of gallows humor to be recalled when the furnace goes out or a window needs replaced. It's the sort of easy camaraderie you feel with your fellow Catholic when you're both giving up chocolate during Lent. But now the cliche seems to hit a little too close to home, pun intended, given the river running through the basement and the river of expense to repair (more than what was my annual starting salary).

I'm slightly bemused by how people think water in the basement is simply a sump pump problem. Hard to explain the walls are caving in and for that reason the cost is stratospheric. I look at it as less money for my profligate relatives, whom we'll have to likely support when they all go bankrupt in the coming depression.

At Mass today learned the visiting priest was a five year missionary to Kenya. He'd had an AK-47 pressed to his temple while his friend and fellow Dominican was beaten to death. Wow. Incredible how unworthy I felt to receive the Lord given this real, life, walking, talking example. And, as stated in the title, it sure puts trivialities in perspective.