Great Mencken article at The American Conservative. Three brief excerpts: "When Mencken started at the Baltimore Herald in 1899, the newspaper had a spittoon at every desk but not enough typewriters to go around." "Everyone involved in making the city’s news seems to have been drunk more or less perpetually: the judges, the sheriffs, the reporters, the typesetters, and the press operators." "By his own reckoning, Mencken produced over the course of his career approximately ten million words on literature, language, music, food, politics." * * * * * * * I'm kinda surprised to see the managing editor at The American Spectator writing for The American Conservative. I've always considered TAS as heavily stained with the neo-conservative mark. Maybe I'm wrong about that. * * * * * * * TAS, however, used to be the best conservative magazine out there, hands-down. R. Emmett Tyrrell's "The Continuing Crisis" was one of the best monthly columns around (and, come to think of it, laid out similarly to this "Miscellaneous Rambling" weekly "column" at TDE; the comparisons, alas, end there). Tyrrell's was the first thing I read when the magazine arrived, followed quickly with Ben Stein's autobiographical column. I would then search for anything by Tom Bethel or P.J. O'Rourke. * * * * * * * While checking out the TAS website, I see that Tyrrell and Stein are still writing regularly for TAS. I'm going to start going back there more often. Who knows, maybe I'll subscribe again someday.
And anything that tears down society ought to be resisted by Catholics everywhere:
"It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power; there is never, nor can there be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power." Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, the State.
This link has one of the best assortment of "info-graphics" (deplorable term) I've ever seen about drinking. Want to identify the different types of wine glasses? See chart 1. Want to match chips with wine? Chart 5. How about beer and cheese? Chart 8. Trying to figure out how much booze to buy for a party? Chart 6. Want to handy reference for making 30 interesting shots? Chart 16. * * * * * * * Happy birthday to my Mom today. She could identify all those glasses in chart 1. * * * * * * * World map featuring each country's favorite beer. Of course, our favorite beer is shown as Bud Light, which is an embarrassment, but I guess it's consistent with our taste in government: long on marketing/reach, short on substance/wisdom. * * * * * * * Pretty interesting: Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History: “'Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History'” uses National Archives documents and artifacts to show how government programs and policies changed over time and to illustrate the wide variety of views Americans hold about alcohol. Youtube video below.
The first thing that needs to be understood is this: The Roman Empire was a united civilization, the prime characteristic of which was the absolute and unconditional acceptance of one common mode of life by everyone who dwelt within its boundaries.
It's a difficult concept for a modern person to grasp. When we think of Europe, we are, the European Union notwithstanding, still accustomed to think of a number of sovereign countries, more or less sharply differentiated, and each often colored by different customs, language, and religions: France and its French language, with romance and peasant villages. Germany and its German language, with stern discipline and beer. Italy and its Italian language, with swarthier folk and wine. European nations are, in a way, defined by what they aren't when compared to the their neighbors.
But people living in the Roman Empire regarded civic life in a totally different way. All conceivable antagonisms (and they were violent) were antagonisms within one State. From the Euphrates to the Scottish Highlands, from the North Sea to the Sahara and the Middle Nile, all was one State.
The world outside the Roman Empire was considered a sort of waste: not thickly populated, no appreciable arts or science. Barbaric. Sure, they were often a menace to the Empire's frontiers, but that menace was seen as an irritation: the hassle of preventing a fringe of imperfect, predatory, and small barbaric communities from harming the vast, rich, thickly-populated, and highly-organized State within those frontiers.
Moreover, those barbarians--Germanic and Slavs east of the Rhine and north of the Danube, nomads of the desert, Irish and Picts--were themselves tinged by the Empire. Roman trade permeated their cultures. We find Roman coins everywhere. Latin and Greek terminology permeated their speech. They admired it. They perpetually begged for admittance.
But they never dreamed of "conquest."
The Roman administrator, on the other hand, tried to get the barbarians to settle on the frontier fields, so he could exploit their labor, acts as a buffer against barbarians from further away that weren't as colored by Roman ways, and serve as mercenaries in Roman armies. So they were useful but still, overall, insignificant in the eyes of the Empire.
The only exception to this was the small common frontier with Persia. Persia was its own civilization and was more powerful than the barbarians or nomads ("The Persian War" was the only serious foreign war in the eyes of all rulers from Julius Caesar to the sixth century). The frontier line with Persia often shifted, but the Mediterranean peoples of the Levant, from Antioch to Judea, were always Roman and within the Empire. Overall, the strife with Persia counted little in the general life of Rome.
Anyway, regardless of Persians and some occasional barbarian troubles, the central point to grasp here is that, during the first centuries of the Christian era, people lived as citizens of one State. It was a State they took for granted and that they even regarded as eternal.
Sure, people grumbled about taxes and there were occasional revolts, but there was never a suggestion that someone else besides the imperial authority should be levying the taxes and collecting them. There was plenty of conflict between armies and individuals over control, but no one doubted that someone--the Emperor--should despotically control. Localities had their own customs, but no one conceived them to be antagonistic to the one State. That State was, for the people within it, the World.
The complete unity of this social system was even more striking when we look at the innumerable local customs and liberties, as well as the dizzying variety of philosophic opinions, religious practices, and dialects within that world. There wasn't even an official language; there were two, Greek and Latin.
But despite the mosaic of underlying local customs and practices, the power of Emperor--whether held by one man or four, whether held by a wise man or a tyrant--was always one power, one office, and one system.
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.
This from Brocard Sewells biography of Cecil Chesterton:
"Marie Chestertons maiden name was Grosjean. On her fathers side the family was Swiss, and was not very long settled in England; her mother was Scots, a descendant of the Earl Marshal Keith of whom there is a picture in the National Portrait Gallery. In all branches of the family one son in each generation was given the name Keith; which is how Gilbert Chesterton came to acquire it."
No word, however, from Father Sewell on the inside story behind Gilbert's first name. [Habit of a Lifetime, Whitefriars: Saint Alberts, 1975, 2]
On the Garden
If I had to list the primary categories of TDE subjects, I'd list: current affairs, history, religion, philosophy, gardening, and humor. (The main category, of course, would be "eclectic" or "random," but those are more "anti-categorical" than categorical.)
Of those primary categories, I get more reader email in response to my gardening posts than any of the other subjects. And most of the emails don't even begin with, "Hey gardening fag." In fact, almost all of the emails come from TDE readers who have gardens or who want to start one.
And so, given that most of the news out there is whether we'll have Washington Party Candidate One or WPC Two or Three (things I couldn't care less about), I'm going to give a garden update.
The warm weather has been great for the garden. My greens are thriving, the strawberry plants are greening, and the asparagus is poking through. I have erected a vertical salad station that holds 15 pots of lettuce and spinach, in a spot that will have partial shade, with the hopes that they can grow during the hot summer months. I'll probably put up a second one later this week. Pics no doubt will be posted.
I have also started an "eat-all" greens garden. I went to my compost site and got a bunch of leaf mold, put it next to my house, then broadcast different kinds of edible greens: leaf radishes, green wave mustard greens, large leaf tong ho, Chinese kale, and amaranth (green calaloo). These are "stalk-like" greens that are briefly boiled (for sixty seconds), seasoned, then eaten. Southerners called the resulting concoction a "messo greens."
I read about this approach in The Tao of Vegetable Gardening (link below). My goal is to get a hundred pounds of greens this year, consisting of a lot of lettuce and spinach (which don't weigh much, and which I'll eat raw, in salads) and a ton of these stalk greens, which, relatively-speaking, weigh a lot (and will be boiled briefly and eaten, messo-greens style).
These stalk greens do not make good salads, if I understand correctly. You need to boil them or put them into soups.
Anybody have any recommended podcasts? I seem to be running a bit low. It happens this time of year due to all the time I spend gardening and walking outside. * * * * * * * It's funny, I don't think I can garden without listening to a podcast. On Saturday, I did a lot of gardening in the morning and, for various reasons, couldn't listen to a podcast during it. I found myself a bit dissatisfied with the process, kinda anxious to get it over with. I returned that afternoon, podcast in ear, and again greatly enjoyed the gardening experience. There's "something about" keeping my mind on one thing and my hands busy with something else at the same time that seems to strike a great psychological balance for me. Whatever that something is, I suspect it's why the Rosary is a great prayer. * * * * * * * We got a Catholic radio station in my area a few years ago. I listen frequently and greatly enjoy it, but Marie and I have noticed one disturbing thing: its female personalities tend to be annoying. Not all of them by any means, but quite a few. They speak with a saccharine holiness that grates the living hell out of me (and thereby puts the hell back in me, I suppose). I don't want to mention any names (they all seem like kind, knowledgeable, well-intentioned ladies), but if someone can get a message to these radio personalities to turn off the drip faucet of molasses, that'd be great. * * * * * * * I've started watching Netflix's Daredevil with my son, Michael (16). Greatly enjoyable. A bit too graphic with the violence, but virtually no sex and PG with the language. Now, if Netflix can resist its leftist yearning to turn the Daredevil into a cross-dressing homosexual who fights for national health insurance, I think it has a great show on its hands.
Great weather last week.
Of course, what goes up, must come down. We are now looking at very cold temperatures. Now, the fact that cold temperatures are following warm temperatures doesn't surprise me. I've seen that occur my entire life. What does surprise (okay, annoy) me is the consistent tendency of forecasters to semi-miss it.
Here's what I mean: Starting last week, they've been warning that temperatures were going to drop into the low forties/upper thirties (for the lows). And then every day, the forecast got worse and worse and worse, until now, they're calling for low temperatures in the upper-twenties. This has happened, no exaggeration, every year for the last five years: a gloomy cold-snap forecast in the spring that gets gloomier and gloomier and gloomier. My question is, how does the same thing happen every year?
It's kind of like those local sports events that repeatedly start a half-hour late: If you're always starting a half-hour late, maybe you need to estimate the starting time then tack a half-hour onto it.
Maybe the meteorologists need to estimate a coming spring cold snap then subtract another ten degrees from it.
That's what I'm going to do for now on in April and May.
I like it when another person thinks like me. This guy read a study, called "bull____," and used common sense/experience to explain why the scientific study is obvious bunk: What men really talk about in the pub.
A study found that men "hold sensitive, caring discussions about children and relationships, rather than adhering to the cliché by bantering about sex and football." That's so patently ridiculous, the "scientists" ought to be taken out and unceremoniously shot for being such androgyne-promoting con artists (I tell ya, no lie is too big for the folks who want to wipe out any difference between the genders).
The writer calls out the scientists, then offers the reality:
If you actually want to know what men talk about in the pub, just go into a pub with men in it and listen. You'll hear a drunken orchestra of conversations, which can all be placed into one of only three categories:
Drinking. It may sound circular to talk about drinking whilst drinking, but men love nothing more than howling with laughter about all the ridiculous scrapes they have got into while a little bit worse for wear. Even if they have grown up/gone into recovery, they will still hopefully have a wealth of youthful disgraces to re-live as they grow older and more sensible.
Fighting. In some circumstances this may be actual punchy fighting, but mostly it’s one of the many combat proxies – like sport, or other competitive areas such as work and one-upmanship. Men love to bat around endless scenarios of who would beat whom in a scrap/race/hot dog-eating competition. It’s just what being a man is about.
Phwoaring: Men rarely discuss anything sensitive like erectile dysfunction (unless it’s booze-related, and therefore funny) – but neither do most of them discuss actual sex. Everyone knows at least one “guess who I’m shagging?” bloke who is always trying to impress people, but most men quickly tire of this, as there’s no entertainment value in it. There is, however, lots of cor-blimey-wahay-wouldn’t-mind-a-bit-of-that. It’s all quite harmless, but it’s also not surprising they rein it in a bit when the cameras are rolling.
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.