Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tell Him He Can Buy It on for Less and Without Your Snotty Judgement

What can you do when a customer wants a book that you not only find objectionable but also believe actually dangerous in the lessons it portends amidst such a politically precarious time?

Considering the book in question is Hillbilly Elegy, a New York Times bestseller by an author with whom I have enjoyed a correspondence, and whose personal story [he was born in a poor town in the nowhere of Ohio and worked his way through the Marine Corps and into Ivy League] rather resembles my own [I was born just miles from where he was, ditto the rest], that speaks eloquently of the role of personal responsibility and community in lifting oneself out of poverty and ignorance, I think it dangerous only to one.

Namely, the linked article's precious writer.

You work at a bookstore, sparky.  Just sell the books and take the money.

[For those wondering about today's heavy blogging, I'm at a conference that is so dull I stopped paying attention three hours ago.  Any minute now, I may pull the fire alarm.]

Well, Mostly Just the Dead Voters

The administration’s election-integrity commission will have its first meeting on Wednesday to map out how the president will strip the right to vote from millions of Americans.

I appreciate the hysterical zeal that some folks have about this, but voter lists could stand some scrutiny.  For example, my father voted twice in the last presidential election.  If that weren't astonishing enough, he had been dead for 23 months by that time.

Have One Less Child Than...What?

Does that mean slaughtering an existing child?  How wonderfully Old Testament.

I Can Make an Improvement to This

Global Harbour mall in Shanghai, China, is testing a new pilot program for men. Imagine four glass pods where men can go to play video games while their partner has shopping to do. According to the UK Telegraph, as translated from the state-run news site The Paper, each “husband rest cabin” would have:

Instead, how about:


Everything You Know is Wrong

"The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Fault May Not Be in the Hormone, Madam, But in You


I had been taking estrogen replacement therapy for four years prescribed after my hysterectomy at 36. But two weeks ago, my doctor added a special cream to boost my testosterone. She warned me of “odd symptoms,” but she didn’t mention this constant sexual distraction. Or the irrational anger. The day before, I dropped a fork in the kitchen and kicked it. It clattered into the base of the cabinet, but that wasn’t enough. I picked it up and threw it into the sink with a force intended to harm. When the mailman carelessly slammed a box onto the front steps, I resisted the urge to slap him silly.


Does Testosterone Really Just Make Men Aggressive?  New research turns conventional wisdom about male hormone on its head.


The most self-consciously virtuous and progressive segment of our society is also the most exploitative of their workers.

University of Illinois-Chicago ad for language program director draws outcry: Ph.D.-Level Position, $28K Salary

I worked as an adjunct for one semester, once.  Yeah, no.

Do Not Surf Next to Fanning

Champion surfer Mick Fanning rescued as a great white shark circles below him - exactly two years after he punched one when it attacked him at the SAME event in South Africa

He's a shark magnet.

I'd Rather Read This Review Than the Book, as Prog Rock was Largely Dull

Still, it had its place.  Also, I think "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond" was a nice tribute to a fallen band mate.
This kind of excessive showmanship was part of what attracted fans to the strange musical movement known as progressive rock. In The Show That Never Ends (named for lyrics from Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Washington Post political reporter David Weigel recounts stories like this from the glory days of “prog” in the 1970s, when bands such as Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Genesis composed long, erudite, allusive songs about outer space, ancient myths, dreams of the future, and, in the words of Yes singer Jon Anderson, “discovery of the self and connection with the divine.”

Why the music is called “progressive” has never been entirely clear, and many of the most representative bands didn’t use the label to describe themselves. As with any artistic genre, precise definitions are disputed and boundaries are fuzzy: Debates about whether this or that band (or this or that album or period of a band’s work) is really progressive are a favorite pastime of fans. But the general idea is clear enough. In Weigel’s apt summary, prog had three main musical characteristics: retrospection, with artists looking to English and European influences rather than to contemporary American pop; futurism, using the newest techniques and instruments, like the Moog synthesizer or Mellotron keyboard; and perhaps most importantly, experimentation, with prog artists writing music with “19/8 rhythms, polyrhythms, polytonality,” and other unusual and challenging musical methods. Well-known prog-rock songs include Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” Yes’s “Roundabout,” and Rush’s “Closer to the Heart.”

Unpopular Thoughts

I think there's more artistic integrity in a Chuck Berry song than in a "concept album" by some pretentious pop musician.

Speaking of pop music, outside of contemporary country artists, do any of these performers actually sing live when on stage?  Do any of them not require technology to keep them in key?  Can any of them play an instrument while singing?

I'd rather have a whole stadium sing the National Anthem together at the beginning of a sports event, even an expensive, major one, than listen to some pop star, from the A to the D List, render her interpretation of it.  Really, I'm glad I'm not standing above Francis Scott Key's grave when she's doing so, for all of the spinning that must be going on.

Also, don't change the lyrics of "America the Beautiful" to fit the transient standards of the contemporary age.  It was a poem written by a woman of intellectual substance to celebrate the physical wonder of our country and God's favor towards those who tend to it.  Katherine Ward was a proper scholar and poet.  She taught at Wellesley in the 19th century, for heaven's sake.  To make her bona fide to 21st century audiences, I'll also mention that she was gay.  If you don't like her words, write your own dang national song.

However, since you can't play an instrument, sing on key, or read music, I doubt that you could.  Maybe you could put together a concept album, though.

Come to think of it, can you imagine what a dreary business a "social justice" national anthem would be?  The social justice perspective presumes forms of original sin, based on race, religion, and sex, without any opportunity for redemption.   In other words, it's neo-Marxist atheism.  Cool song, bro.

As ever, I find Alex Trebek obtuse.  I look forward to his retirement.  Well, unless he's replaced by Matt Lauer.  In which case, please come back, Alex.  Now I have to go yell at these kids who are on my lawn.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Pura Yucatán

A divertimento this week, in honor of summer.

The monkey had seized his Pepsi, an act that left Estefan somewhat agitated.  He had never liked Mexican spider monkeys ever since he had seen one snap his brother’s index finger like a twig back when they were boys.  Twenty years later, the sight of one would reduce him to a state of medieval terror.  The fact that the monkey was now sitting next to him on the tailgate of one of the pickup trucks belonging to the university’s archaeology department, with its legs crossed like his, helping itself to his bottle of Pepsi and behaving like any of the other diggers under the shade of some mangroves, had left him in a state of descolada.

Of course, Estefan also disliked thunderstorms, mud, bus drivers, Coca-Cola, and norteño music; the latter being something on which the two of us often agreed.  This was not lost on Heraclio, another digger at the archaeological site and our truck driver, who would gleefully read the weather report to Estefan whenever it included a prediction of rain, deliberately drive closely behind buses on the  narrow roads of the central portion of Quintana Roo, and turn up the volume whenever Los Tigres del Norte were playing on the radio.  In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Heraclio had trained the monkey to steal Estefan’s Pepsi.

The relationship between the two diggers, who were also cousins, would have made for an execrable journey had it not been for the fact that they were taking me to what they described as “a beautiful cenote [or sinkhole]” so that I could experience Yucatan-style surfing.  As we were about twenty-five miles from the coastline, my curiosity was piqued some by a surfing opportunity in the middle of the flat, dry llano.  That and I had never seen a sinkhole that could be described as beautiful.

So, as we drove through towns named after either Christian saints or monstrous Mayan royalty, as Estefan and Heraclio bickered about technique, I heard about the main feature of the Yucatan method.

“We do not use surfboards, doctore,” said Estefan.  “We use rododendro.  You will see; it is pura Yucatán”  Heraclio just laughed and nodded like a bobble-head doll.

My Spanish has always been horrible.  In fact, the university staff would label what I spoke “kitchen Mexican”, so I didn’t think it odd that Estefan had just said that they surfed using houseplants.  I just assumed that I hadn’t understood him over the roar of the loose muffler and the top 40 norteño hits that Heraclio had blaring from the truck’s radio.  That is, until we got to the cenote.

Truly, if a sinkhole could be beautiful, this was the one.  It was introduced by a stark opening at ground level of approximately seventy-five feet in diameter.  Crude stairs that looked rather ancient had been cut in the limestone walls in a rough spiral from the opening to the small patch of earth and sand about three stories below that served as a type of beach at the bottom.  The remainder of the sinkhole’s base was liquid.  Aided by the minerals in the earth and vegetation that grew within and around the opening and down its dark shaft, the water at the bottom of the cenote was made azure; capturing and magnifying the available sunlight but retaining a refreshing coolness.

Second only to the water in vividity was the verdant vegetation that clung to the sides of the shaft and dropped their roots from the sun-soaked surface thirty feet down to the water, lacing into strong knots of vines that formed basketball-sized root balls just below the water’s surface.  It wasn’t until I saw the cousins grab these vines and begin to swing themselves from the spiral steps to just above the water level that I realized the plants were, in fact, tropical rhododendrons.  Remarkably, I had heard correctly; they did use rhodadendro instead of surfboards.

The sport, as I came to learn it, in sinkhole surfing is bending both vine and body so that the soles of one’s feet, at the right moment of the parabola, make contact with the water and, if timed right, enable the “surfer” to release his grip upon the vine and glide across the water’s surface on a buffer of surface tension.  It wasn’t a long ride, and the cousins would loudly celebrate even a five foot glide, but it also wasn’t easy.  In fact, learning the nuance in a Hawaiian short board was probably simpler.  For over an hour, once I was assured that the vines would hold my weight, I repeatedly sent myself inauspiciously into the water with a sizable splash.  However, in the second hour, I was beginning to get the hang of it.

While it was a hot, humid day and a dusty ride after a long week of fruitless digging among the remnant stones of a pitiable Mayan archaeological site, when Estefan suddenly remembered that on his last trip to the cenote he had hidden a number of bottles of Noche Buena in the cool deepness, it turned into one of the best and most memorable days spent in any kind of water.  Our fatigue from work, and Estefan’s descolada, were cured.

In fact, to this day, after a particularly good session of conventional surfing, if asked how was the water, I sometimes respond that it was “pura Yucatán”.

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved ©2011]

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alcoholic, Patriotic Archaeological News

Wine Meant to Toast John Adams’s Presidency Was Just Discovered

It's the Mug, Right? It's Too Small.

"Couples Don’t Need Wedding Loans. They Need More Modest Weddings"

Really, it's about time someone said this. Someone with more influence than a parish priest nobody like me. loans are a “thing” for couples who find that their combined student-loan debt doesn’t concentrate the mind wonderfully enough. “You shouldn’t let your finances or your credit keep you from having the wedding you’ve always wanted,” chirps the website, encouragingly. (Note to brides: Actually, yes, you should. It’s called living within one’s means, and those who do it fare better on every scale of physical and emotional health than those who don’t).
Another website,, frets with brides-to-be over the cost of the photographer ($2,000!), the caterer ($65 per person!), and the “Historic church you’ve always dreamed of exchanging your vows in” ($4,000!).  You know, in case the Mandarin Oriental isn’t available. At least we now know what churches will be used for when the secularization of America is complete....
4000 bucks?!  Man, have I been cheating myself.

Besides that startling figure, the massive wedding, with its expenses and remarkable drama, is one of the signs of the emptiness of cultural nihilism.  I've seen too many "big" weddings serve as the high point of a couple's marriage, especially since many already have children who pre-date the nuptials.  Once the wedding is complete, there seems to be this sense of "Is that all there is?". 

Apparently it is now radical to note that there is a substantial difference between a wedding and a marriage.  To permit the former to color the latter with long-term and unconscionable debt is un-wise and, on the part of the lender, unsavory.

The War on Spelling Continues

Occult News

Ancient religious stones hiding secret message only visible at night


The Wages of the Campus Revolts
The reason for the collapse is clear: Over the past few years, leftwing activism on college campuses has reached a level of intensity not seen since at least the “canon wars” of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and possibly not since the countercultural movements of the 1960s. Meanwhile, campus PC blowups—over trigger warnings, safe spaces, sexual harassment, and offensive speakers—dovetailed with the 2016 presidential campaign, as Hillary Clinton touted “intersectionality” on her Twitter feed and Donald Trump reveled in raising a middle finger to the ever-proliferating codes of academic liberalism.

Conservative media has also played an important role. Privileged students ensconced in $60,000-per-year institutions shouting down speakers for incorrect opinions on gender pronouns makes the perfect foil for the new anti-PC right. So right-wing journalists have followed the excesses of the campus left closely, spreading news of the latest insanity far and wide, often with a touch of hyperbole thrown in.

Most campus lefties will probably look at these numbers as evidence that Republicans are even more anti-intellectual than they thought, and that the #resistance against them needs to be taken up a few notches. This would be a big mistake. The homogenization of leftwing views on college campuses, and the obvious hostility to conservative ones was bound to produce a backlash from conservative voters. That backlash has been wrapped up in class conflict between a highly-credentialed professional class and a working class that finds higher education and the well-paying jobs it provides to the elite increasingly out of reach.