I'm slowly wrapping up the garden. This wonderful weather is giving me the opportunity to put things away gradually, just spending an hour a two a week readying beds for next year and cleaning out my 50+ pots. It's also giving me an opportunity to rake in some serious squash. A squash bug infestation wiped out my first crop, so I planted a new batch in early June, knowing that a short growing season would leave me short, but that hasn't happened. Barring theft (someone actually stole two pumpkins from my side yard, just feet from my daughters' bedroom windows) or some other aberration, I could grab as many as 50 winter squash (but many of them mini varieties), though I expect the number to be more in the 30-40 range. * * * * * * * Further good garden news: the worm factory is producing a lot of vermicompost. It's probably cranking about 10-15 pounds a month of, reputedly, the world's greatest soil amendment. * * * * * * * Write your own joke: Man tried to smuggle 51 turtles in pants across border. And no, it wasn't a Mexican penetrating Texas with his penis at risk. It was an Oriental (at least a dude with an Oriental-sounding name) penetrating Detroit through the Canadian border. * * * * * * * I've traveled that Canada-Detroit tunnel and bridge many times. It used to be one of my favorite things to do. There was something about "just crossing over into Canada" for kicks that appealed to me. And the fact that the drinking age was/is 18. Canada doesn't send its kids to die in war, wielding million-dollar weapons, and then tell them they're not responsibile enough to drink a beer or put $1 in a slot machine. * * * * * * * Text message from my Spanish major son, Alex: "We're reading Muhammad's Ladder in my medieval Spanish class. Got to say, Muslim heaven sounds PRETTY cool. 'You must know that Alla has many virgin women prepared, the most beautiful in the world, and many serving wenches and many houses, so beautiful that no man could describe them.'" My son hastens to add that the translation is his, so an expert might contest points in his rendering.
One of the more interesting observations I've read this month:
"Why is marriage such an unpalatable prospect to today’s adults? Though “a host of complex factors” are involved, according to the Washington Post, Pew was able to pinpoint some of the biggest considerations for single adults. Many men said they’re delaying (or forgoing) marriage until they’re financially stable—while almost four-fifths of the single women said their biggest consideration is whether or not their potential spouse has a steady job.
"This is fascinating—in our age of romance-soaked literature and films, we rarely hear such pragmatic considerations discussed in the public sphere. Why would a woman choose to marry (or not marry) a man based on his career prospects? It sounds positively Elizabethan. Indeed, this marriage trend does seem to harken back to older conceptions of marriage. Anyone who has read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice knows how important money was to brides (and grooms) of the past."
A Random Passage
My skepticism has made me a nicer person: not inclined to judge anything, I'm not inclined to get bothered by anything. It's been a remarkable shift in mental landscape for me, and I hope to foster it, but I have my lapses.
Too many lapses.
My biggest source of falling: noise. The loud talker, the person who constantly makes noise so others know he's around, the cackling middle-aged woman who doesn't realize demureness is made for her physical state, the flawed muffler, leaf blowers.
It's been annoyance of mine for many, many years (link), but apparently my distaste has a revered tradition. I ran across this recently:
Nothing is more becoming a man than silence. It is not the preaching but the practice which ought to be considered as the more important. A profusion of words is sure to lead to error. Talmud
"Upon their arrival back to Earth, the 750 space tourists . . . will be treated to Grey Goose cocktails designed specifically for the event. One example: the Grey Goose Galactic Martini, which blends vodka with raspberry eau-de-vie and black pepper. Why raspberry? Because according to astronomers, that’s probably what space tastes like (due to the presence of ethyl formate, a compound with a distinct raspberry note)." Link.
A TDE reader found himself in Frankenmuth, Michigan, last weekend for its annual Oktoberfest. He sent me this article about a new up=-scale joint: Prost Wine Bar and Charcuterie. The place sounds neat, but the article is unremarkable, except it mentions that the Bar has "wine on tap." That was a new one for me. I guess I need to get out more. * * * * * * * Saw this on my Twitter timeline. No idea if it's true. If it is, I recommend Five O'Clock vodka for its implementation: "Vodka can be used to soothe jellyfish stings, as a bug repellent and used as hair conditioner." And even if it's not true, if you drink enough of vodka, you won't feel the sting, notice the bugs, or care about your hair. * * * * * * * Another piece of advice from Twitter: "When life gives you lemon, add vodka." * * * * * * * Musta been a Foster's: A "20-year-old escaped a crocodile attack by poking it in the eyes and later treating the pain with beer." Link. * * * * * * * I used to drink a lot of Foster's. But then my Dad switched brands and, like an obedient son without his own ample source of drinking income, switched too. * * * * * * * The beers I drank with Dad: Michelob, Foster's, Honey Brown, in that order: Michelob in high school, Foster's in college, Honey Brown in law school. When I wasn't with my Dad, my corresponding beers: Little Kings (h.s.), Old Milwaukee (undergrad), Pabst Blue Ribbon (law school). Of course, during my school days, a wide assortment of other cheap beers rotated into the mix. To name just a few: Blatz (one of my favorite cheap beers); Beer (generic . . . nasty stuff); Red, White and Blue; Schlitz (another favored brand); Stroh's (lots of Stroh's; hadda, since it was Detroit fire brewed, whatever that means).
I have a piece coming out shortly in Philosophy Now, a pop philosophical magazine published in London. Starting on Labor Day, they gave me free access to online content. I've been greatly enjoying it, so much so that I'll be tempted to subscribe once my coupon expires.
One of their more popular pieces was written in 2007 by Tim Delaney, "Pop Culture: An Overview" (subscription required). I found this passage useful for filling out some vague notions I had about the rise of mass society:
Through most of human history, the masses were influenced by dogmatic forms of rule and traditions dictated by local folk culture. Most people were spread throughout small cities and rural areas – conditions that were not conducive to a ‘popular’ culture. With the beginning of the Industrial era (late eighteenth century), the rural masses began to migrate to cities, leading to the urbanization of most Western societies.
Urbanization is a key ingredient in the formation of popular culture. People who once lived in homogeneous small villages or farms found themselves in crowded cities marked by great cultural diversity. These diverse people would come to see themselves as a ‘collectivity’ as a result of common, or popular, forms of expression. Thus, many scholars trace the beginning of the popular culture phenomenon to the rise of the middle class brought on by the Industrial Revolution.
Industrialization also brought with it mass production; developments in transportation, such as the steam locomotive and the steamship; advancements in building technology; increased literacy; improvements in education and public health; and the emergence of efficient forms of commercial printing, representing the first step in the formation of a mass media (eg the penny press, magazines, and pamphlets). All of these factors contributed to the blossoming of popular culture. By the start of the twentieth century, the print industry mass-produced illustrated newspapers and periodicals, as well as serialized novels and detective stories. Newspapers served as the best source of information for a public with a growing interest in social and economic affairs. The ideas expressed in print provided a starting point for popular discourse on all sorts of topics. Fueled by further technological growth, popular culture was greatly impacted by the emerging forms of mass media throughout the twentieth century. Films, broadcast radio and television all had a profound influence on culture.
Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the "Tremendous Trifles" column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y'all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.
According to biographer Brian Boyd's recent biography, in 1909 the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, then a ten-year-old youngster in St. Petersburg, found few chances to practice his English. He kept up his proficiency by reading the English fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, Oscar Wilde and G.K. Chesterton. [The Russian Years, Princeton: 1990, p. 79]
Some sad news from the world of reality TV. Mama June and Sugar Bear from “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” are splitting up. Their lawyers are citing unintelligible differences. Fallon
The White House has re-evaluated its security and today they announced they'll start locking the front door. They're also going to start asking who's there when someone knocks. Conan
In another celebrity photo leak, nude photos of Kim Kardashian have been posted to the Internet. Kim said she'd be very embarrassed if only she knew how. Conan
Ruminations on the Fall of Rome
Belloc’s Europe and the Faith highlights two angles of the height and fall of the Roman Empire that do not receive much explicit attention, despite the oceans of ink that are spilled on the subject of Rome's demise every year.
Angle One: Rome's Zenith
The Roman Empire was the vehicle of western civilization and culture. It inherited the best in culture--art, philosophy, literature, political theory--from the Greeks, while absorbing under its umbrella the Chosen People from Judea and scores of other peoples, ranging from Celts to Copts.
Rome was the greatest civilization ever known. In size, comprehensiveness, diversity, culture: none has ever come close. That point must constantly--constantly--be borne in mind. It is important to understand the larger point that, in my opinion, drove Belloc's book: Rome, the Roman Empire, played a crucial part in the Providential plan.
By unifying the world under a cultural umbrella that made travel possible, caused news to spread more quickly than it had ever spread before, made thought and leisure conversation and philosophy possible, it made the world ready for its savior.
Angle Two: Rome's Fall
The Catholic Church—The Roman Catholic Church—inherited what was left of Rome. As the Empire fell, its soul passed into the Church. This might be the closest the Church gets to embracing the Shirley-Maclaine-like transmigration of souls, and it highlights a very important point: The Catholic Church is the patron and guardian of Western Civilization. As the Catholic Church goes, there goes Western Civilization.
The pitiful state of Catholicism in the West—from the child abuse scandal to Catholic majorities who reject Church teaching on fundamental things like homosexual marriage and contraception—and the rise of pornography, drug abuse, broken homes throughout western societies is no coincidence.
Catholicism and Western Civilization go together. Catholicism is the vehicle that carries the Civilization. To the extent that vehicle breaks down, Western Civilization breaks down. The Roman Catholic Church sedan is broken. Still running, sputtering, but broken. And the “progress” of Western Civilization has slowed to a crawl, with large segments of its population opting for other forms of civilization (Western Civilization isn’t the only civilization. It’s important to keep this in mind, though thoughtful reflection confirms that it’s the best civilization and responsible for everything good that remains in western society today).
"The Faith is Europe and Europe is the Faith." Belloc's famous phrase has been hated since they were first written. As Fr. James Schall once noted, "[N]o phrase by a Catholic has been more excoriated."
Excoriated, yes. But nonetheless true.
Or at least highly plausible.
Catholic Men's Quarterly, a one-of-a-kind general interest men's magazine written by Catholic men for Catholic men. Makes a great Father's Day gift.
"The Daily Eudemon is the sort of thing
that Chesterton or Mencken would be doing, if they were
alive today. It's what, in saner times, was called journalism.
In the writing and in the reading, it's exactly the sort
of leisure we should want at the basis of culture."Mike
Aquilina, Author of The Fathers of the Church
and TV Talk Show Host.
Catholicism-urbane, witty, engaged-is alive and well!
If you can read, you should be reading The Daily Eudemon!"David
Scott, author of A Revolution of Love: The Meaning
of Mother Teresa
you like your blogs pithy, nimble, pointed, high-spirited,
and waggish, then bookmmark Eric Scheske's The Daily
Eudemon. Ooops! You want prolixity, density, meandering,
dull, and sober? Then run (do not walk!) to the blogs
of the major news outlets. They have just what you want.
Honestly they do." John
Peterson, Editor, G.K. Chesterton: Collected Works,
Volumes 12 and 13.
Scheske's web site is full of information and insight.
Always worth a read."James
V. Schall, Author of Another Sort of Learning.