Thursday, December 23, 2010

How Cold the Night

How cold the night, how still the air
That wraps and chills these empty walls
As cold as stones on hills that wear
Their crowns of blades of grass once fair,
Now shriveled in the winter air
Foreboding winter falls.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Kind of Economy

Will someone please tell me what is wrong with capitalism?

I find the antimony between the pro-market Catholics and the Distributists puzzling. I hope I am not the only one. There are two problems with capitalism: its friends and its enemies; and the same may be said of Distributism. Distributists (may their number ever increase) insist on the importance of family over finance. They believe that human beings are best served by an economy wherein private ownership of land is widespread and working for wage, renting, and borrowing are the exception rather than the rule. I do not think they are wrong. But the Distributists insist on presenting their truths as if they were practical—which is silly. What is practical depends entirely on what you want to get in the end; and if one wants to make money (as most Americans do) then Distributism is not practical at all.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Plot

Everyone knows (I hope) that eerie sensation when the repetition of a word, however simple, leads one to suspect its spelling. Even the most common and phonetic of words strike us strangely when they rear their heads too often—our very a’s and the’s begin to achieve a Hopkinsville look. It’s still more disconcerting when the experience happens with faces—when you begin to notice, for example, the curious shape that an eye has, or a nose, or a chin; when for an instant you see in your own race the characteristics that are blindingly obvious to members of other races or, more frighteningly still, when you begin to see the oddity and uniformity of your whole species with the eyes of a preternaturally conscious dog or cat.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Anniversary

Today is approximately the one-year anniversary of the day when I started this blog. As with most blogs (I suspect) not everything’s turned out quite as expected. For starters, politics appeared far more often in posts than I had intended it too. That’s as it should be: the year has been a strange one in DC and consequently, everywhere else in the country. Some of the top news stories of the year:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

English über alles?

As a grownup, I rarely read the comics any more. Oh, the occasional volume of The Far Side or Calvin and Hobbes—maybe, maybe, if you push me, Get Fuzzy—but I don’t pick up a newspaper to read them. I have something much, much funnier: The Wall Street Journal’s “Personal Journal.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mothers Have a Right . . .

The Daily Beast has a column out on a slight uptick in home births. Hey, in this economy it's got to be a lot cheaper having a midwife come over than it is arranging for an epidural and a hospital stay!

In all seriousness, though, who wouldn't choose a home birth if they could be sure there would be no complications? At least one of my friends (a young mother who recently had her first son) says she's thinking about, *ahem*, telebirthing the second time round, particularly if her second pregnancy is as uneventful as the first one was.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Joe Sobran, R.I.P.

I learned this morning that Joseph Sobran passed away on Thursday. He was a grand old paleocon, perhaps a little more libertarian (certainly in his foreign policy) than I; he was a controversalist, a contrarian, an Oxfordian in matters of Shakespeare, and a Catholic journalist.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him; may his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Which Witch?

So, in recently broken news, we learn that Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell "dabbled in witchcraft" while she was in highschool. Ms. O'Donnell's proof that she has repented of her dabbling: If she hadn't, then Karl Rove "would be a supporter." One for the lady . . .

In related news, John Dennis's anti-Pelosi campaign reveals what we've suspected all along: The Wicked Witch of the West didn't really die. At the very least, "You can always get them back!"

What a world!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Mosque at Ground Zero

As a young person born under Reagan and raised during the Clinton era, I remember three events as defining my childhood. The first was, sadly enough, the Lewinski scandal, about which the less said the better. The third was the death of John Paul II—a sad occasion in and of itself, but one marked by a tremendous sense of pride at being Catholic and joy at the grace of God, Who gave us for so many years so great a pope. Between the two events there was another, a more confusing and disturbing one, which (to my mind) has had and will continue to have far greater effects on us Americans than the end of either a papacy or of all presidential respect. Even great men must die, and in our culture it was only a matter of time before we elected a president worthy of being called “the Impeached”; but the events of September 11, 2001, will continue to have ramifications for years to come.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Show Me the Salsa

Let me first make it quite clear: I am no fan of Mexican food. Having attended college in the Southwest, far from my natural habitat and preferred haunts, I learned to loathe Mexican food much in the way those noble English prisoners must have done while rowing in the slave galleys run by the black- and greasy-haired whip-wielders of the Spanish Inquisition. Beans and rice with lots of spice. Grease in place of meat. Meat, did you say? From what animal did that come? I’m sorry, but when you put on enough taco seasoning, lamb, cow, and pig all taste the same. Forget venison, and those delicious Bambi-burgers one gets back home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City--and It Ain't Lookin' Like Kansas No More

So . . . Ann Coulter is speaking at a gay conservatives' conference (GOProud’s “Homocon”). While I'm not surprised, I admit to being profoundly disappointed.

In related news, I was running a 1960 Stanford-Binet test on a young friend of mine today. In the “Verbal Absurdities?” section, I came across the following question:

“In the year 1915 many more women than men got married in the United States.”

What is it about us in 2010 that most adults would flunk a fourth-grade intelligence test?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fill in the -Zona

I've been wondering why the anti-anti-illegal immigration protesters have taken to calling Arizona (which is a border state) "Nazi-zona." I mean, "Aryan-zona" would have been so much cooler, and displayed a greater knowledge of history, while getting the point (?) across just as clearly. Besides, "Aryan-zona" actually sounds kind of like "Arizona", and so by adopting it as their diffemism of choice the protesters would demonstrate a punnish flair for words and a greater sensitivity for language and sound.

But maybe I'm supposing that the protesters do have a "knowledge of history", a "punnish flair for words", and a " sensitivity for language and sound". My mistake.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Secret of Harry

After spending a week reading criticisms and critiques of the Harry Potter series, I must confess myself shocked that the obvious truth behind the books has not so far been stated in any prominent place. It is one of the more astonishing features of this series that it has been able, by dint of some slight and subtle misdirections of the author (aided, one must assume, by a willing media) that these books have not been unmasked before.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Of Pigeonholes and Personality Tests

One of the more pervasive signs of the modern search for self if the proliferation of personality tests available online. From the ice cream personality test (six flavors, pick your favorite) to the chocolate personality test (sorry, only four choices here) to the color test (rank nine colors in order of your favorite; it will describe your love life) to the other color test (answer a couple dozen questions, and you can buy a book telling you all your secrets, including whether you are gold, blue, green, or orange). This doesn’t count the stuffed animals test, the jungle animal test, several car personality tests, an infinite number of Facebook tests meant to compare you to various real and fictional persons (full disclosure: I composed a Jane Austen one), predictions based on the Chinese calendar and the zodiac belt, and the traditional Myers-Briggs type testing.

Yes, They Really Did

Seen recently on two colleges' departmental websites:

"If you like reality TV, you are going to love Sociology!!"

"Donate to the Economics Department."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why I Am Not a Libertarian


It is popular, because it is pithy, to divide the world into twos. Those who lounge and those who pull their own weight. The kind who can count and the kind who can’t (or is that three kinds?). Those with loaded guns, and those who dig (Clint Eastwood). “Those who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am!’ and those who come in and say, ‘Ah, there you are,’” (Frederick Collins). “Those who say to God ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says ‘Thy will be done,’” (C.S. Lewis). And, most hilariously, Robert Benchley’s distinction (also attributed, with minor variations, to Murphy, Anonymous, and probably, given the viral nature of rumor on and off the internet, to Bill Gates as well): “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pascal's Dangerous Idea

I am officially mad. Not mad (thank heaven) in a mad hatter sort of way; though that may come in time. I’m angry.

It’s a rare news story that angers me anymore, and that’s a pity, because rage makes for quickly written blog posts. (Whether those posts are the best blog posts is another question.) Politicians and celebrities can do and say outrageous things all day long, and I remain unmoved. I expect them to be outrageous; and I suspect that I have the good company in my expectations of most of my fellow human beings.

Monday, March 29, 2010

For Holy Week

Jesus, I will ponder now
On Thy holy passion.
With Thy spirit me endow
For such meditation.
Grant that I in love and faith
May the image cherish
Of Thy suffering, pain, and death
That I may not perish.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Only an Idiot

BIAS 1 : a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric; especially : a line at a 45 degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit 2 : a peculiarity in the shape of a bowl that causes it to swerve when rolled on the green in lawn bowling 3 : an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice. Webster’s Online.

It sounds like an excellent idea. These ideas usually do. None of us can really know what it’s like to be a Native American, so we should just let the Native Americans speak for themselves. Likewise, no white person (with the possible exception of John Howard Griffin) can really know what it’s like to have been black in the 1960’s. No man should presume to speak about what women want (sorry, Chaucer) and no heterosexual can presume to understand homosexuality. Children are eternally puzzled by adults, who have themselves long averred that children are mysteries.

Friday, February 19, 2010

In Defense of Robin Hood

Of all the old and chivalrous heroes whose memory modernity has warped, one of the most ill-treated is Robin Hood. The attack is two-pronged in nature, giving the impression of a concerted effort; but, like so many other apparent alliances between hard left and hard right, the alliance against Robin Hood is an unintentional one, which, if recognized by either side, would be immediately repudiated by both.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What’s a Writer to Do?

I’ve run across a terribly frustrating barrier in my search for a publisher or agent for my first novel. The problem starts with me. You see, I wrote my story for myself, and not for the market.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Women in the Superbowl Ads

As usual, the adds were almost as much of a draw as the game--particularly since we all knew the Tebow add was going to be showing.

But, surprise, surprise, apparently NOW believes that the football player's spot encourages domestic violence. Hm.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saturday at the Movies

I was feeling a little bit of a breeze from the Oscar buzz, and decided to compile my own list of movies—the good, the bad, and the quotable. Just for fun. Besides, some day I may need to start my own library, and it is good to have a plan in place for such exigencies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sifting "Owl Creek Bridge"

It's a bromide that teachers learn from their students. If the translation of the bromide comes to "Students impart information to their teachers of which the teachers were ignorant"
-->--I am not sure I agree. Or, if I have gleaned new information from those I teach, it doesn't tend to be the sort I was itching to know. (I really did not need to know that Ben Franklin's sells cap bombs. Really. Although I must admit it is in keeping with their patron's interests.) I will not deny, however, that I have learned from my students in this sense: that in looking for questions to ask them, I have had to dig deeper into certain questions than I would be likely to, left on my own.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In Five Acts

Recently I was reflecting on how to coax a play out of a certain story. It’s the second or third time I’ve given this particular short story a run-over, and both my earlier attempts completely dissatisfied me--so much so that this time I decided to scrap everything I had done before and start afresh. So I did what every good writer with writer’s block ought to do: I wrote something else, in this case, something in the nature of an outline. Since a great part of my difficulty with the story in question was structural (it’s cursed with scenes in many places, lots of time elapsing, plenty of authorial intrusion, etc.), I decided to set out the approximate structure of a play, in hopes that doing so might give me a template for altering the story in question.