Monday, May 22, 2017

High Altar of St. Mary's Cathedral, Siena

"May Be"? Please, the State's Been Coming After the Middle Class for Some Time Now

Connecticut, the wealthiest U.S. state, may be tapped out on taxing the rich 

The fungibility of wealth is something the state's leadership never took seriously until the wealthy and high-income businesses began to move out.  When General Electric moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts [!] to save on taxes [!!!], that should have caused our elected brain trust to contemplate a change in revenue generation.  Nah.

Now, it's the middle class who are looking elsewhere.  Not only is the state a prohibitively expensive one in which to start and operate a small business or purchase a home, thus limiting the participation of younger people in the state's economy, retirees aren't hanging around, either.  When a move to another state would, between lower taxes and cost of living, earn for me in retirement the equivalent of a month's gross income, I started looking for greener pastures.

The current governor owes his election to the public sector unions, who brought out the vote.  However, it also meant that their overgenerous and underfunded pensions were left untouched.  Wind, meet whirlwind.

Oh, look:  We're now the object lesson in how not to run a state.

Connecticut Fiscal Woes Highlight Blue Model Decay

Old Reporters, on the Other Hand, are Just Fine

Journalists drink too much, are bad at managing emotions, and operate at a lower level than average, according to a new study

Saturday, May 20, 2017

So Long, Old Friend

I was never a cat person.  When I was growing up, we had dogs.  When I married, my wife brought a cat, Tigger, to our shared home.  He had been with her for almost a decade and it took him awhile to get used to me being around but, after five or so years, he gradually accepted my presence.  When he died, I surprised myself by wondering if we couldn't find a new cat for the house.

Epic poetry could be written about Tigger's successor, Chester.  I didn't name him, the young women at the rescue center did as he resembled the Chester that adorns the Cheetos packages.  I would have named him "Killer" or "Danger" or "Mike Hammer".  He had been living in a cave he made of garbage in the town dump.  He was very large, had a habit of demanding that, if we walked anywhere, he would be in front, and would loudly hiss if anyone thought otherwise.  He had a habit of wandering about at night and stealing food from neighboring dogs and cats.  When we were living next door to a museum, he once put on a demonstration in that institution's front yard as to how to stalk, charge, and kill an annoying squirrel.  Children nowadays witnessing such a thing would have to be rendered to a safe space and given a personal therapist; back in the 1990's they simply cheered.
When Chet, which is what I came to call him, died, it was a year before we even thought about another cat.

There had been an old barn in town, of nebulous ownership, that had been the source of some controversy as it was decrepit and an eyesore.  When it was finally torn down, polydactyl cats began to show up in the neighborhood.  One of them would adopt us.  He came to be known as Jacob Racket, or Jake, for short.  The exact circumstances of his forename are obtuse; the reason for his surname was, well, if you had ever heard his loud, abrasive, and constant "meowing", it would be obvious.  He never had a pleasant voice.  He loved, more than anything else, to climb trees and would do so when following the dog and I on our daily walks, running up and down each successive tree along the way.  What else do you do when blessed with twenty-four toes?  When he became bored with that, he would wait for our return and then leap, with great drama, through the neighbor's hedgerow in ambush.  Even the dog would be amused by that.  When the dog died, Jake mourned for him, too.

For seventeen years, I rose every morning to feed him and let him loose on the world.  He would never deign to be picked up nor ever sit on a lap, but he kept my wife and I good and gracious company.  He was in good health until the end, for which I'm grateful.

I accept death's inevitability, of course, especially as the bulk of my professional work these days is sitting with the mortal and planning and officiating at their funerals.  I accepted the loss of Jake yesterday afternoon, but felt it acutely this morning when, with automatic gestures, I went to open a can of cat food and place it in his bowl.  That's when the house seemed unusually quiet.  No more Racket.  Ave atqua vale, Jake.

Friday, May 19, 2017


All day I've heard people saying that it's the Kremlin consuming the White House, including on cable news.  Folks, it's St. Basil's Cathedral.

By the way, that makes this cover's statement rather odd.  Is it now the Russian Orthodox Church that's being blamed for the Democratic Party's poor election performance, rather than Putin and company?

Not Just Jazz

The Art of the Mistake: Why flubs and clinkers are part of the myth of authentic jazz.

A Major Point of Contention Between East Coast and West Coast Surfers

Five Guys named favorite burger chain, taking spot from In-N-Out

Thursday, May 18, 2017

That's Some Harsh Notification

3 People Run Over By County Worker At Crandon Park
“It’s standard operating procedure for a county security guard to let folks who are using the parks know that it is closing and it’s unfortunate what took place, obviously...."
In Ocean City, New Jersey, while I've never been run over, I've twice had unfortunate interaction with local beach authority.  There, when we're surfing the morning glass as part of the "Dawn Patrol", I've had to keep an eye on my towel and kit bag as the beach crew will "mistake" these items as trash.  Well, as trash that they put in their vehicles to take home later.  I have yet to be run over, but it's only a matter of time.

Some Concurrence, Some Disagreement

25 things longtime Clevelanders know about the city that newbies don't get

I've lived many places, but I still think of it as home.


1.  Yes, we were something, once.  As I remember from my childhood and teenage years, anyone who wanted to work could find a job, and a good one.
2.  That's just because of the unions, which are fading.  In the last election, the red party was favored.
3.  Honestly, I found Manhattan friendlier when I moved there from Cleveland.
4.  True, and I even had to hear about the "burning river" when I was living in Scotland.
5.  Yes, it is.  23 minutes in Hell is not a lot different from 35 minutes in Hell.  Also, Cleveland's public transportation isn't as good as New York's.
6.  Absolutely true.  I was an East Sider, except for a two year period, and still could not find my way around the West Side.
7.  Actually, it was meant to be watched on television while it's snowing outside.
8.  That's for sure.  In fact, I've never been past the lobby and gift shop as I find admission too expensive.
9.  Yes, without question.
10.  It does in Connecticut, too, so big deal.
11.  I've seen shorts worn in a funeral.
12.  If by food you mean potato-based carbs, yes.
13.  No, it's not.
14.  The best mustard in the world.  I currently have two bottles of it in my pantry.
15.  No.  By that I mean, no.
16.  Big deal.  That was when I was in elementary school.
17.  Unfortunately true, and a challenge to one's practice of Christianity.
18.  Very true.
19.  Ditto.  It's the Jake, man.
20.  Yes.  [Shore Junior High Admirals; Euclid High Panthers]
21.  That's past my time, but I've had some.  It's horrible.  Bring back Stroh's.
22.  If you squint, you can find me in the wedding scene in The Deer Hunter.
23.  Also very true.  Technically, I'm from Euclid.  That means I'm a Clevelander, not a Euclidian.
24.  Whatevs.  Advertising slogans from The Cleve have always been a little obtuse.
25.  Even 35 years after moving away, yes.

An Evergreen Headline

Aristotle got it wrong: We have a lot more than five senses
Philosophers need to grapple with the ‘symphony of senses’ being discovered by science

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Now Could I Drink Hot Blood

That's from Act III, Scene 2 of Hamlet, and about sums up my feelings about the article below.

Armenian Witness to Bloody Protest: Erdoğan Regime Violence 'Has Now Been Exported Here'

It's one thing for some tin-pot Lilliputian to brutalize his people under the umbrella of his country's unequal laws, but it's a whole 'nother thing to bring that cave-dwelling barbarism to the land of freedom of speech and assembly.  I hope that someone in that salad spinner that we call a government will make the Turkish Embassy's life uncomfortable for awhile.

Not a News Flash: Yale Person Doesn't Like New Haven

Screenshots surface of insensitive Yelp reviews by Pierson College dean

You know, June, in certain circles, given that I was born in a speck of a town in southern Ohio and, when I'm not careful, speak with a hillbilly accent, I would qualify as what you describe as "white trash".  I also live just up the road from you and, if I were a different sort of person from a different generation, your insensitive words would require me to find a safe space to recover from your gross microaggression.

This Should Be Read at Every Graduation, Every Year

And, before I go any further, I would like to express my personal thanks to all of you for not rescinding my invitation. I know that matters were dicey for a while, given that I have held and defended actual positions on politically contested issues. Now and then I've strayed from the party line. And if the demonstrators would quiet down for a moment, I'd like to offer an abject apology for any way in which I have offended against the increasingly narrow and often obscure values of the academy. 

 In my day, the college campus was a place that celebrated the diversity of ideas. Pure argument was our guide. Staking out an unpopular position was admired -- and the admiration, in turn, provided excellent training in the virtues of tolerance on the one hand and, on the other, integrity. 

 Your generation, I am pleased to say, seems to be doing away with all that. There's no need for the ritual give and take of serious argument when, in your early 20s, you already know the answers to all questions. How marvelous it must be to realize at so tender an age that you will never, ever change your mind, because you will never, ever encounter disagreement! How I wish I'd had your confidence and fortitude. I could have spared myself many hours of patient reflection and intellectual struggle over the great issues of the day.


Note the Only Creature Not to Be Consumed by a Phone; Also the Only One Smiling

More from the Post-Christian Age

Everything old is new again:
Just this week, People magazine informed readers that the popular bridal show, Say Yes to the Dress, would be featuring its first-ever polyamorous fitting. “Say Yes to the Dress Sneak Peek: Inside Kleinfeld’s First Polygamous Bridal Fitting,” read the headline. The article casually discusses the first “throuple” to be featured on the show and what it means to dress two women for a “polygamous wedding.”
The whole thing is framed as edgy and fresh, but in fact it’s just the latest bit of pop culture news I’ve read treating polyamory like it isn’t something backwards, straight out of the eighteenth century. We should have seen this all coming with the smash-hit “Big Love,” but at least that show tried to show the moral complexities of the issue. Today we have cultural polyamory in abundance. Showtime has a series called Polyamory, a show called You Me Her is billed as the first-ever “polyromantic comedy,” and TLC is still running episodes of Sister Wives.
Apart from television, I read almost weekly some sort of article about the rise of polyamory in the modern era. The Atlantic informs me that dating website “OkCupid Adds a Feature for the Polyamrous.” nonchalantly runs a story entitled, “My Boyfriend & I Got a Girlfriend – & This is What Happened.” The opening paragraph says, “In the polyamorous world, there is a special term for the third person in a relationship. She (and it is usually a she) is called a ‘unicorn.’ She is rare, beautiful, and hard to track down. And if you can catch her, she will bring magic into your relationship.” The BBC tells me, “Polyamorous relationships may be the future of love.” “Love doesn’t just come in pairs. Is it time that marriage laws come to recognise the fact?” the article asks.
You might be reading this and asking yourself, “What the what?”
In the not-too-distant future, pockets of Protestantism will embrace polygamy, write tortuous liturgies for it, vainly expect its acceptance to fill their pews, and characterize those who pause for a moment to ask if it's consistent with scripture as bigots.

A Class Guy with Excellent Taste in Sports Teams

Matthew McConaughey, sons catch a Cleveland Indians game at Progressive Field 

I'm grateful to him as watching the entire run of True Detective while on a flight from Sydney to Dallas was about the only thing that kept me sane.  Given the series' theme, I suppose that's a bit ironic.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Suddenly, I Have More Free Time

I've stopped reading news stories that contain the words "as learned from unnamed sources" in the opening paragraph.

The Widening Gyre

What Lee is concerned about documenting is that this middle layer is thinning. Fewer Americans are getting married or living in families. We are going to religious services less often, and are less likely to consider ourselves members of a religious organization. We’re spending less time socializing with neighbors and co-workers, too. Voting rates have declined, and we’ve grown less likely to pay attention to news about government. We trust one another less: The percentage of Americans who thought most people could be trusted fell to 31 percent in 2016 from 46 percent in 1972, the report says, citing the General Social Survey.

This is Why the Power of Branding is So Important

Million-dollar Strads fall to modern violins in blind ‘sound check’

Are Editors Still Around?

I appreciate that I don't have much room to talk, as I serve as my own editor, proof-reader, and fact-checker.  Honestly, if it weren't me, I'd fire me.  But, this is from a book published by a university press [granted, it's Melbourne and not Sydney] that would have been favored by the attention of at least one executive editor, one plain old editor, and a variety of unpaid dogsbodies who are known as editorial assistants.  Clearly, the author is a bit challenged by the English language, too.

But Scott need not concern us today. For the moment, click on the picture below, which will make it large enough for even those with the poorest eyes to read with ease. The passage appears on page 32 of The Cardinal (ebook edition) and testifies to both Ms Milligan’s tin ear when transcribing quotes and MUP’s sad decline as a reputable publishing house.

carrion thrust
The “carrion thrust” of debate indeed! While one can only guess she means “parry and thrust”,  there can be no doubt whatsoever that MUP  employs editors who don’t actually edit.

I'm going to try to introduce "carrion thrust" into my usage today, at least in conversation with some ecclesial and/or academic colleague, and see if I can make it a "thing".

Fun Fact

Nautical Archaeological News

Two 2,500-year-old Phoenician boats found on the coast of Spain, giving incredible insight into the ancient maritime traders.