Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Unpopular Thoughts

I keep hearing from politicians, media, pop singers, and other deep thought-leaders that we will not be divided by Islamist terrorism.

Sorry, pards, but division is the last thing that Islamists want.  Quite the opposite.  They want no division whatsoever in society.  They want everyone to be part of a universal caliph with all of us using the same words, holding the same thoughts, worshiping the same understanding of Godliness, and practicing the same regressive worldview.

If thought-leaders would simply read what the Islamists write and distribute, this would not be as misunderstood as it is.

Looks like I'm not the only one to notice: The Ruin of England

[Before anyone loses their water, an "Islamist" is one who believes in conversion through terror and force, with mortal punishment for infidels.  That word does not describe the Muslims with whom I've been honored to share classrooms as colleagues and students over the past thirty years .]

The Loss of History

For Memorial Day some thoughts on historical memory.

We are losing it. We are less versed in the facts of history, not only of other countries but of our own. It is a crisis, and much has been written on it over the years. “We are raising a generation of young Americans who are by and large historically illiterate,” observes the historian David McCullough in his latest book. He describes a bright Missouri college student who thanked him for coming to the campus, because, she said, “until now I never understood that the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast.” Another student once asked him: “Aside from Harry Truman and John Adams, how many other presidents have you interviewed?”

What explains the new dumbness? Some blame boring textbooks put together by committee and scrubbed clean of the politically inconvenient and incorrect. Some argue that so many strange, culturally fashionable things are jammed into public school curricula that essentials have been forced out. Many point to a certain negativity, a focus on our national sins that has crowded out our achievements. This is counterproductive: a sophisticated presentation of our triumphs and tragedies makes our sins all the more poignant and powerful. Historical balance leaves young minds not cynical, which is always an excuse to do nothing, but inspired—we can right wrongs, we’ve done it before. 

Gradually, and Then Suddenly

How the Midwest went from the idealized to the derided
Jon K. Lauck’s “From Warm Center to Ragged Edge” surveys “the erosion of Midwestern literary and historical regionalism” between 1920 and 1965. This may sound dull as ditch water to those who believe that the “flyover” states are inhabited largely by clodhoppers, fundamentalist zealots and loudmouthed Babbitts. In fact, Lauck’s aim is to examine “how the Midwest as a region faded from our collective imagination” and “became an object of derision.” In particular, the heartland’s traditional values of hard work, personal dignity and loyalty, the centrality it grants to family, community and church, and even the Jeffersonian ideal of a democracy based on farms and small land-holdings — all these came to be deemed insufferably provincial by the metropolitan sophisticates of the Eastern Seaboard and the lotus-eaters of the West Coast.

I've Been Noticing This, Myself

The Western-Centric Nature of Intersectional Feminisism:
Attempts by non-intersectional feminists and human rights activists to discuss honour based violence are frequently shut down by western intersectional feminists who will immediately change the subject to domestic violence experienced by western women. 

 Any conversation about the horror of female genital mutilation is likely to be derailed away from girls in danger right now to a lecture on the pre-Islamic origins of the practice. Any attempts to discuss gender-specific modesty veiling will almost certainly result in a claim that Muslim women are exercising their own choice and are somehow magically free of the paralysing societal pressures claimed to be experienced by western feminists. When a petition to criminalise cat-calling and other gender-based annoying behaviour gets more than 58,000 signatures but a petition to strengthen multi-agency responses to ‘honour’-based violence receives only 406 (and consequently will not be addressed by parliament), people could be excused for thinking western non-Muslim feminists only care about themselves.
Most of the feminists with whom I've worked and lived have been first and second-generation, those dedicated to ensuring that there is equity in employment and educational opportunities.  One cannot be the son of the first woman in her family to earn both under-graduate and graduate degrees, and be married to one of the generation of women first ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church, and not have an appreciation for their struggle and success.

Contemporary, third-wave feminism, or intersectional feminism, is more interested in a neo-Marxist world-view, with the politicization of, well, everything and the division of the human race into ever smaller and more detailed categories, with shifting rules of acceptance.  The only constant is that the "patriarchy", another term of nebulous definition, is the cause of any political or personal limitation.

Government Schools = Abuse Factories

A 6-year-old boy was repeatedly jammed into a dark hole in a closet ceiling by sadistic staffers at an after-school program inside a city school,...

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Divertimento For The National Holiday

From A Song For The Season, by Mark Steyn -
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored…

In 1861, the United States had nothing that was recognized as a national anthem, and, given that they were now at war, it was thought they ought to find one – a song “that would inspire Americans to patriotism and military ardor”. A 13-member committee was appointed and on May 17th they invited submissions of appropriate anthems, the eventual winner to receive $500, or medal of equal value. By the end of July, they had a thousand submissions, including some from Europe, but nothing with what they felt was real feeling. It’s hard to write a patriotic song to order.

At the time, Dr Samuel Howe was working with the Sanitary Commission of the Department of War, and one fall day he and Mrs Howe were taken to a camp a few miles from Washington for a review of General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. That day, for the first time in her life, Julia Ward Howe heard soldiers singing:

John Brown’s body lies a-mould’ring in the grave
John Brown’s body lies a-mould’ring in the grave…

Ah, yes. The famous song about the famous abolitionist hanged in 1859 in Charlestown, Virginia before a crowd including Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson and John Wilkes Booth.

Well, no, not exactly. “By a strange quirk of history,” wrote Irwin Silber, the great musicologist of Civil War folk songs, “‘John Brown’s Body’ was not composed originally about the fiery Abolitionist at all. The namesake for the song, it turns out, was Sergeant John Brown, a Scotsman, a member of the Second Battalion, Boston Light Infantry Volunteer Militia.” This group enlisted with the Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment and formed a glee club at Fort Warren in Boston. Brown was second tenor, and the subject of a lot of good-natured joshing, including a song about him mould’ring in his grave, which at that time had just one verse, plus chorus:

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah…

They called it “The John Brown Song”. On July 18th 1861, at a regimental march past the Old State House in Boston, the boys sang the song and the crowd assumed, reasonably enough, that it was inspired by the life of John Brown the Kansas abolitionist, not John Brown the Scots tenor...as far as I know, this is the only song about a real person in which posterity has mistaken it for a song about a completely different person: “John Brown’s Body” is about some other fellow’s body, not John Brown the somebody but John Brown the comparative nobody. Later on, various other verses were written about the famous John Brown and the original John Brown found his comrades’ musical tribute to him gradually annexed by the other guy.

Sergeant Brown died during a Union retreat: when the enlistment of Colonel Webster’s Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment expired in July 1864, only 85 of more than a thousand men were left to return home to New England....Huge crowds in Boston greeted the survivors with cries to sing “John Brown’s Body” but, as one report commented, “the brave heroes marched silently to their barracks and the ‘Websters’ passed into history.”

When the lads from the Boston Light Infantry cooked up their John Brown song, they used an old Methodist camp-meeting tune, “Brothers, Will You Meet Us?” So where did that come from? Well, back in the 1850s, a Sunday school composer, William Steffe of Richmond, Virginia, was asked to go and lead the singing at a Georgia camp meeting. When he got there, he found there were no song books and so improvised some words to one of those tunes that – like most of the others in those pre-copyright days – was just sorta floating in the ether. Steffe’s lyric, like the original John Brown song, had one verse – “Say, brothers, will you meet us?” – and one chorus: “Glory, glory, hallelujah…”

And somehow this combination – an improvised camp-meeting chorus with an in-joke verse about a Boston Scotsman – became the most popular marching song of the Union forces, the one bellowed out as Sherman’s men marched through Georgia in 1864...But, whatever the tune’s origin, when Julia Ward Howe heard the song for the first time that fall day, “John Brown’s Body” was already famous. She loved the martial vigor of the music, but knew the words were “inadequate for a lasting hymn”. So her minister, Dr Clark, suggested she write some new ones. And early the following morning at her Washington hotel she rose before dawn and on a piece of Sanitary Commission paper wrote the words we sing today, casting the war as a conflict in which one side has the advantage of God’s “terrible swift sword”:

I have seen Him in the watchfires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps…

She finished the words and went back to bed. It was published in The Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. They didn’t credit Mrs. Howe and they paid her only four dollars.

Julia Ward Howe came from a distinguished lineage. Her forebear Richard Ward was Royal Governor of the British colony of Rhode Island and his son Samuel Ward was Governor of the American State of Rhode Island. Her husband, like his friend, the poet Lord Byron, had played an important role in helping the Greeks win independence from the Turks. Mrs Howe herself wrote many poems, Broadway plays and newspaper columns. But “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” is her greatest achievement. Henry Steele Commager called it “the one great song to come out of the Civil War, the one great song ever written in America”.

Whether or not that’s true, most of us understand it has a depth and a power beyond most formal national songs. When John F Kennedy was assassinated, Judy Garland insisted on singing it on her TV show – the producers weren’t happy about it, and one sneered that nobody would give a damn about Kennedy in a month’s time. But it’s an extraordinary performance. Little more than a year later, it was played at the state funeral of Winston Churchill at St Paul’s Cathedral. Among those singing it was the Queen. She sang it again in public, again at St Paul’s, for the second time in her life at the service of remembrance in London three days after September 11th 2001. That day, she also broke with precedent and for the first time sang another country’s national anthem – “The Star-Spangled Banner”. But it was Julia Ward Howe’s words that echoed most powerfully that morning as they have done since she wrote them in her bedroom in Washington 140 years earlier:

As He died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.
I would encourage those interested in music and/or history to read the whole book as it's filled with stories such as these.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day

A day of reverence that even the nihilism of our post-religious age cannot besmirch.

Lord God Almighty, who have made all peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and peace: Grant to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Below, A.E. Housman's "Here Dead We Lie":

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

[For Jeff and Scott, who were young; and for those of the 1/4th who fought the good fight and kept the faith.  You were the best of us.]

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I'm Going to Have to Learn This Language

I mentioned to some folks last weekend that, when contemporary dissertation abstracts come across my virtual desk, I'm often baffled by their intention.  This is because they are now written in Gibberish, which is the language of 21st century academics.  While I can sometimes catch their meaning, since all of them basically say that every aspect of our world is racist, sexist, etc., I found this abstract to have a certain splendor to it:
This essay explores how, for many minoritized peoples, cyborg ontology is experienced as dehumanizing rather than posthumanizing. Rereading Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto through a decolonial, transfeminist lens, it explores the implications of Haraway’s assertion that cyborg subjectivity is the “illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism” by examining the modern/colonial development and deployment of microprosthetic hormonal technologies – so often heralded as one of the technologies ushering in a queer, posthuman, post-gender future – as mechanisms of gendered and racialized subjective control operative at the level of the biomolecular.
Heck, my computer tells me that eight of these words don't exist.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Just Another Day for Christians in the Middle East

Egypt: 26 dead as gunmen fire on bus carrying Coptic Christians

I'll preempt the Western media and state, "We may never know the reason for this attack."  Phooey.

Farm Team

With the advent of summer, and my increasing interest in doing things outside and away from computers and the Internet, I'm commissioning a "farm team" of sub-bloggers to supplement our content and make our perspective on the world a little less parochial.  We'll have more details shortly, but I expect to start featuring things around the first of next month.

Posting will be light this weekend, as I am already overbooked with parish and other work.  It means those who read us regularly will be getting less free ice cream for awhile, but it's still free ice cream.

Dutch funeral expo digs up the latest in death trends

More than 3,500 visitors flocked to a recent one-day expo at Amsterdam's historic central Westerkerk church for a peek at new gadgets to help give a loved one a grand, final farewell. 

From those wanting a unique burial for a relative or friend, to others with an appreciation for the morbid, there was plenty on offer, such as 3D-printed urns in the shape of a deceased person's head. 

A hollow walking stick, which can be filled with ashes that are then scattered at the touch of a button and registers the person's final resting place via GPS coordinates, was another innovative exhibit.

The Government is a Hammer; We're Just Nails

Bookstores Suffer Unintended Consequences From Mark Hamill's Campaign Against Fake Autographs

Then again, as Nietzsche said, "One must either be the hammer or the anvil."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

First the Circus, Now This

Yellow Cab Co. of Cleveland closing after 90 years in business

The Greatest Story Ever Told in Scottish Sport

Few events in the country’s history have had as big an impact on Scottish culture as the day Celtic won the European Cup

More Accurate and Broader Than the NYT Bestseller List

Amazon Charts: The Top 20 Most Sold & Most Read Books of the Week

America's taste in books is largely prosaic, of course, but it's nice to see independent presses so well-represented.  It was time for the New York Times' wall to receive a crack or two and let in other voices.

A Survey of College Summer Reading

Two changes from my days of teaching: 1.) The works are predominantly contemporary and 2.) They are mostly from a narrow ideological band of non-fiction.

Books Younger than the Students 
Common reading committees continue to select almost nothing but books written in the lifetimes of incoming students—and very largely books written since 2010. Out of 349 texts selected for 2016- 217 common readings, 271 (75%) were published between 2010 and 2016, and 327 (94%) have been published between 2000 and the present. Sixteen selections were published in 2016, the very year they were assigned—more than the 13 (3.7%) that were published before 1990.

Most Popular Subjects and Themes 
In 2016-17, we gave the common readings 576 subject labels, divided into 30 subject categories. The most popular subject categories were Civil Rights/Racism/Slavery (74 readings), Crime and Punishment (67 readings), Media/Science/ Technology (34 readings), Immigration (32 readings), and Family Dysfunction/Separation (31 readings).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Satire, Of Course. Although....

ISIS Lays Down Arms After Katy Perry’s Impassioned Plea To ‘Like, Just Co-Exist’

Oh, Look. The Eiffel Tower is Dark. Again.

This guy is a gentle, old rocker; if he's had it, then maybe the hashtag-posting, "Imagine"-singing, sentimental flummory about mass-murder is reaching its end.


Our declared enemies are perfectly straightforward in their stated goals, and their actions are consistent with their words. They select their targets with some care. For a while, it was Europe's Jews, at a Brussels museum and a Toulouse school and a Copenhagen synagogue and a Paris kosher supermarket. But Continentals are, except for political photo-ops on Holocaust Memorial Day, relatively heartless about dead Jews, and wrote off such incidents as something to do with "Israeli settlements" and "occupation" and of no broader significance.

So they moved on to slaughter 49 gays in a nightclub in Orlando - the biggest mound of gay corpses ever piled up in American history and the worst terror attack on American soil since 9/11. But all the usual noisy LGBTQWERTY activists fell suddenly silent, as if they'd all gone back in the closet and curled up in the fetal position. And those Democrats who felt obliged to weigh in thought it was something to do with the need for gun control...

So they targeted provocative expressions of the infidel's abominable false religion, decapitating a French priest at Mass and mowing down pedestrians at a Berlin Christmas market. But post-Christian Europe takes Christianity less seriously than its enemies do, and so that too merited little more than a shrug and a pledge to carry on.

So they selected symbols of nationhood, like France's Bastille Day, Canada's Cenotaph, and the Mother of Parliaments in London. But taking seriously assaults on your own nation's symbols would require you to take your nation seriously, and most western citizens are disinclined to do so. As the great universal talismanic anthem of the age has it, "Imagine there's no countries/It's easy if you try..."

So the new Caliphate's believers figured out that what their enemy really likes is consumerism and pop music. Hence the attacks on the Champs-Élysées and the flagship Åhléns department store in Stockholm, and the bloodbath at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris and now at Ariana Grande's "Dangerous Woman" tour.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Antique French Gothic Chalice


I occasionally come across quotations that snag my attention like a needle-hook to yarn. I may or may not agree with the writer's perspective, but the quotation represents something that stirs my thinking and, sometimes, imagination.

From time to time, I'll share them and their source, but caveat emptor.
If ever there were a narrative worthy of being subjected to “stubborn skepticism,” in Salovey’s words, the claim that Yale was the home of “hatred and discrimination” is it. There is not a single faculty member or administrator at Yale (or any other American college) who does not want minority students to succeed. Yale has been obsessed with what the academy calls “diversity,” trying to admit and hire as many “underrepresented minorities” as it possibly can without totally eviscerating academic standards. There has never been a more tolerant social environment in human history than Yale (and every other American college)—at least if you don’t challenge the reigning political orthodoxies. Any Yale student who thinks himself victimized by the institution is in the throes of a terrible delusion, unable to understand his supreme good fortune in ending up at one of the most august and richly endowed universities in the world.

A Question with a Rich Variety of Answers, All of Them Unflattering

Why do intellectuals fall in love with dictators and totalitarians?

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Inevitable Reaction Cycle has Become Meaningless

We Were Told That Such Waves were Impossible

Surf's up! Monstrous 64-foot 'megawave' spotted in the Southern Ocean

I mean, the science was settled.

My Days With the Elephants

I was wistful while watching of the end of the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus on tonight's news. My very first job was working with the elephants of the Clyde Beatty/Cole Bros Circus. Well, by "working with", I mean I walked behind them with a snow shovel.

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 would wander about at night and steal 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 January...at 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.” Refinery29.com 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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thanks, Mom

She came to this country from Scotland to join with her already-arrived parents during Germany's torpedo war against merchant shipping, traveling alone on a passenger ship in the North Atlantic.  She was 14. She became the first woman in her family to graduate from college; then from graduate school.

As a teacher, she taught mainstream students and then, up until her 85th year, those judged "at risk" who would come to her classroom wearing court-mandated electronic ankle bracelets.

She made me go to church every Sunday, even after I was confirmed, and saw to it I became an acolyte who knew what he was doing.  When I was five, she made sure I learned how to swim at the local Y; then made sure, summer after summer, that we went down to the sea.  Jesus and Surf have been the twin themes of my life because of her.

She taught me how to fight for one's students and against impassive bureaucracies, as I watched her do when she was involved in local politics.  She was 4 feet, 11 inches of Celtic iron. To this day, whenever I find myself encountering some diocesan or academic martinet I think, "Do you really want to mess with me? I'm Mary Clements' son."


We expect hysterical ninnyism from talk radio and the cable-news ranters and the more jackass corners of the Internet. It is always the end of the world when you have gold coins to peddle and dehydrated apocalypse lasagnas to move: Ron Paul loves freedom, and he loves, loves, loves his freeze-dried ice cream. Nuts are nuts, and it is the nature of certain subgenres of media to bring out the shallowness and stupidity in people who didn’t know they had it in them: Watching the underlying business realities of MSNBC transform Chris Hayes into the Sean Hannity of the Left has been painful to watch, but it was not entirely unexpected.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Let's Get Ahead of This Weird, Increasingly Popular Lie

The tale of a Christian destruction of the Great Library—so often told, so perniciously persistent—is a tale about something that never happened. By this, I do not mean that there is some divergence of learned opinion on the issue, or that the original sources leave us in some doubt as to the nature of the event. I mean that nothing of the sort ever occurred.

Modern Times

Grooms are nowadays so unimportant that their names are omitted. Either that, or Anita just married Podium Level.

Why Not?

Brave man dives onto 1,000 mousetraps so we can see it in slow motion

This is What Happens When You Don't Hunt Them

Deer caught eating human remains for first time, say scientists

Less deer hunting means more deer, which means more coyotes eating your house pets, more ticks to pull off of your grandchildren, more Lyme Disease and, apparently, the rise of carnivorous deer with a taste for human flesh.

Deer are delicious and nutritious and, let's face it, cleaner than pig meat.  We should be eating them, not the other way around.

More Unpopular Thoughts

I confess that I don't read past the 100th word in an e-mail.  If someone wants to speak with me, they can feel free to speak with me.

Do all of the late night comedians have the exact same writers?  If so, there may be only six or seven of them, given that the jokes have a remarkable similarity in theme and subject.  That, and they've become predictable and, hence, dull.

Lately, I've come to find Alex Trebek insufferable.  I can't explain why, other than to suggest that he is just simply insufferable.  Then again, maybe it's me.  I, too, can be insufferable.  Like now.  Anyway, when he starts speaking I mute the sound and say rude things.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I'd Happily Buy Numbers 1, 3, 5, 9, and 11

Twelve cheap classic cars

On a Lighter Note

Japan suffers a shortage of NINJAS

Trendiness Will Bring Them In

20,000-YEAR-OLD ARTIFACTS, 21ST CENTURY TECHNOLOGY: Museums are turning to virtual reality, apps, and interactive experiences to keep tech-savvy visitors engaged

It's great to keep museums current with technology and educational trends.  However, as we learned in the Episcopal Church when we bagged a noble liturgical and musical tradition to become more relevant, it doesn't translate into new members and new donations.  In fact, we lost 2/3 of our denominational membership.

I think it may take more than tech to overturn the fatuous attitudes of someone like this mullet:
I’m standing in the admissions line at a museum in New York when I overhear a surprising claim: “It’s like going to the dentist,” a man declares. “I’d rather go the dentist than go to a museum.”

“We can go somewhere else if you want,” his partner offers.

“No, it’s fine.” He pauses. “I strongly believe that people aren’t interested in museums. They just go because it’s a ‘must.’”
No, guppy, it's not a "must".  It's the call of an active mind.  Personally, I'd rather you go to the dentist, too.

Remember Microbeads? Or, Everything You Know is Wrong.

'Science' Finally Retracts An Absolute Mess Of A Paper

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Pity and a Tocsin

Years of false promises, years of “compassionate government”, years of ignoring arithmetic, comes to this: Puerto Rico in the grip of a massive, man-made disaster.

This could have been avoided by sensible and timely cuts, by turning a deaf ear to public sector union demands for wages and salaries, by a series of small but definite steps away from the blue model, welfare state governance. But the press, certainly including the NYT which is now reporting the disaster, would have attacked any politicians taking these steps as “harsh”, or “cruel to the poor”.
This is happening in Connecticut, too, and in much the same way.

[ A tocsin is 1: an alarm bell or the ringing of it, 2: a warning signal.]

The Academic World Has Become Vicious and Ugly

Maybe I should say, speaking as a refugee from that world, more vicious and more ugly.  It has been moving in that direction for some time and I can't help but feel that these people are getting what they wanted.

A philosopher writes a well-reasoned argument and is publicly attacked by colleagues who admit privately that she's right.


Divinity schools aren’t void of infighting, but controversies from these centers of academic and spiritual contemplation rarely spill into the public domain. Unsurprisingly, then, recently released documents about an ongoing dispute over the role of diversity training within Duke University’s Divinity School have grabbed religious scholars’ attentions.

If you didn't realize that university life is a Utopia of neo-Marxism, I would observe that in both instances there is a call for the re-education of the offender.

Ah, thank you, satire.  This is satire, isn't it?
MUNCIE, IN—In a mathematics lesson delivered to her kindergarten class Tuesday, local teacher and closed-minded bigot Becky Delatorre reportedly insisted that two plus two equals four, all the time, to the exclusion of all other numbers, no matter how anyone feels about it...
After horrified students reported the incident to their parents, the school district had no choice but to take action, and has suspended the teacher without pay until the incident has been investigated more thoroughly.
“We are a place that values all opinions, feelings, and expressions,” the superintendent said in a statement Tuesday. “There is no room for intolerance of any kind in our schools.”

A Question for the Ages

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?


Iceland drills 4.7 km down into volcano to tap clean energy

Good God, have they not seen this movie?

Crack in the World

Yes. Next Question.

WE COULD HAVE BEEN CANADA: Was the American Revolution such a good idea?

Why?  Because of nonsense like this:

Ontario man given three tickets by ‘the smoke police’ for having a cigarette alone in his SUV

The author of the article that poses the question lives on Manhattan's upper east side, not anywhere in Canada, so I think we know how he feels, too.

This Probably Will Not Earn a Supportive Press Release from the Episcopal Church

A coal plant located thousands of miles from Appalachia could close in two years. And when that happens, it won’t be white, working-class Americans who are devastated — but an entire Native American nation.

At the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in Arizona, the majority of its workers are members of the Navajo Indian tribe, and the shut-down will crush its people, already faced with a grim economic situation on the reservation...

Begaye is still fighting to save the plant, with appeals to both Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Trump. His crusade to keep this industry going for the sake of his tribe has none of the support that environmentalists passionately give the pipeline protests on Native American land in North Dakota.

"As long as the sun hangs in the sky, the U.S. government will protect the Navajo People".  Oh, baloney.  That sun was never hung correctly, anyway.  The Navajo's recent interactions with the U.S. have been less than optimal.

Unpopular Thoughts

As said recently by some ex-president: 'It takes great courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm.'

No, it doesn't.  Not at all.  In fact, it generally invites praise, usually immediate praise, for the speaker and signals a superior, if facile, moral position on behalf of those who cheer those words.  That's a rather easy thing to do.

Actually doing something about the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, bending one's life around addressing such needs, requires great personal industry and a portion of courage, especially as it will never be lucrative nor glamorous.  It's much easier just to talk about it, while wearing your dinner jacket, and receive lazy applause.


I noted how odd it was lately that politicians have started to curse so frequently in public.  Being a vulgarian is part of the current president's "brand", of course, but I'm more surprised that senior Democratic politicians are doing the same, even more so.  I wondered if it was yet another cynical attempt to engage the lost working class, whom I assume politicians view as a demographic that communicates chiefly through obscenities, as do movie and TV actors when portraying the working class on screen.

Turns out, I was not wrong: Can Democrats cuss their way back to the White House?

Speaking as one who grew up in the working class Midwest, public swearing is viewed as distasteful. There are places where it's expected and tolerated, but not while in the midst of service to the greater community.  The practice is made absurd when it's a privileged, white millionaire wearing an Italian scarf worth roughly what I make in a month deciding to be a public potty mouth.  Yes, I feel real connected to you now, senator.


I miss tough professional athletes, the ones who used to smoke cigarettes at half-time and come to the playing field with bloodshot eyes.  I find their contemporary incarnations a bit on the whiny side: Raptors would have won series if they had LeBron James

Thing is, Toronto, you don't have him.  Cleveland does.  You have to figure out how to beat him, not lament his existence.

Guess the State, or Are Schools Now Child Abuse Factories?

Middle schooler suspended after liking gun photo on Instagram

This surprises me for a few reasons.

1.) Trenton, Ohio is hardly the place where one would expect people to overreact about a toy gun.  I wouldn't think they'd overreact to a real one, either.

2.) He "liked" a photo of a toy gun.  To quote the school-abused kid's father, “He never shared, he never commented, never made a threatening post … [he] just liked it.”

3.) I would think Trenton would have more pressing things to worry about than the photo of a toy gun.

Trenton man shoots, kills dogs before taking own life

Trenton man arrested for sex crimes against several minors

I mean, this is a small city.  Given their crime statistics, it seems they have a problem with real violence.

Oh, look.  The administrator who is so concerned about a kid "liking" an electronic image of a toy gun boasts of bringing his own, real gun to school.

The Best Film Ever Made

Young Einstein

"Barbarian?  I'm a Tasmanian!"

You Should Listen to Their Religio-Spiritual Views

The Atlantic: Millennials' Political Views Don't Make Any Sense

On a related note, and at the risk of getting hammered by colleagues, it is not very original for me to note that when Confirmation was a rite of passage at the opening of one's teenage years, it enabled a greater foundation for the spirituality of burgeoning adults.  When it was no longer emphasized for thirteen-year-olds it lost its reason for being and became a sacrament in search of a theology,

I know there are some hard-wrought theological reasons for this change; theology is a convenient tool for rationalization.  The main reason, though, is because too many clergy found that age group unruly and difficult to reach.  At least, that's what was said behind closed doors.  It's much easier to sit in an office and pretend one is an academic/therapist/social justice warrior than do the unforgiving bits of our professional work, but it would have saved us from now trying to come to grips with a "lost generation" of believers.

This has been my lecture theme for at least the past sixteen years, and wildly ignored by the American Episcopal Church, as the preferred narrative feeds mightily into the contemporary Protestant delusion.  However, I'm pleased to note that the Presbyterian Church in the US and Scotland [!] and the Anglican Church in Australia are beginning to make changes in this regard.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Archaeological News

Discoveries in Mary Magdalene’s Hometown

About Time

One of Guinness World Records’ more unusual awards was presented at the National Maritime Museum yesterday. After a 100-day trial, the timepiece known as Clock B – which had been sealed in a clear plastic box to prevent tampering – was officially declared, by Guinness, to be the world’s “most accurate mechanical clock with a pendulum swinging in free air”. 
It was an intriguing enough award. But what is really astonishing is that the clock was designed more than 250 years ago by a man who was derided at the time for “an incoherence and absurdity that was little short of the symptoms of insanity”, and whose plans for the clock lay ignored for two centuries.
Anyone who has sailed blue water, especially in the days before GPS devices, is appreciative of John Harrison's genius.

I Still Miss Australia

Fisherman's foolhardy attempt to LASSO a shark like a cowboy ends with the beast taking a bite out of his leg after he jumps into the sea
'It was a quick and regrettable decision that I realise was a stupid move'
Well, it does make for a good story to tell at the boozer.

And:  Crack that! Video shows the moment a clever crab opens a bottle of VB with its claws

FYI, VB stands for Victoria Bitter, the Budweiser of Australia

The Decline of the West

McDonald's Is Debuting a French Fry Utensil Called a "Frork"—Yes, Really

Saturday, May 6, 2017


The shriveling of the majestic Anglicanism of my childhood into the unending quarrel about sex which it has become is a symbol of its decay. That Was the Church That Was (I think I can reveal without causing any grave difficulties to anyone) is dominated by factional differences between evangelical ­conservatives and liberal Catholics, by office politics, by money troubles, and by struggles over homosexuality and over the ordination of women. It is hardly at all about trying to maintain the Christian faith in an age of secularism. Nowhere does it discuss the mysterious but willful destruction of the mighty poetic force of the Bible and Prayer Book, which has turned the thunder and trumpets of Anglican worship into a series of squeaks and squawks, accompanied by tambourines and guitars. This rejection of solemnity and mystery helped to make possible the shrinking of a great Church into a series of squabbles. Both events are consequences of the general inability of a once important people to take themselves ­seriously anymore.

Journalism 2017

That story about the GOP celebrating their healthcare bill with cases of beer is baloney


No, the AHCA doesn't make rape a pre-existing condition

There's enough that's wrong with politicians and their ham-handed attempts to engineer our world without having to make things up.  The current thought leaders of media not only practice self-conscious vulgarity, but they're thicker than whale omelets when it comes to actual reporting.

Yikes, It's Freud's Birthday, Too

Maintain Your Composure

Today is Kierkegaard's birthday.

It's a good article, and a rather good introduction to Christian Existentialism.


I occasionally come across quotations that snag my attention like a needle-hook to yarn.  I may or may not agree with the writer's perspective, but they represent something that stirs my thinking and, sometimes, imagination.  (Actually, this time I do agree, completely.)

                                             - from Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

This is Probably Good Advice

This is Why "Religious Leaders" Need to Practice Circumspection

In November, shortly after election day, an Episcopal parish was vandalized and common postures of outrage were adopted:

Religious Leaders Condemn Hateful, Trump-Inspired Vandalism

Things are not always as they appear:

Police: Brown County church organist admitted to November vandalism
Investigators say Stang admitted to painting the "Heil Trump" and "Fag Church" graffiti himself because he wanted to "mobilize a movement after being disappointed in and fearful of the outcome of the national election." He insisted his actions were not motivated by anti-Christian or anti-gay sentiments.
That's not how it's done, Stang.


Reminder: I occasionally come across quotations that snag my attention like a needle-hook to yarn.  I may or may not agree with the writer's perspective, I may find them derivative or vulgar, but they represent something that stirs my thinking and, sometimes, imagination.

From time to time, I'll share them and their source, but caveat emptor.
Liberal dogma is rapidly becoming a secular religion, a “faith” that conspicuously omits any requirement that one love his enemies. Christians have long struggled to keep one of Christ’s most difficult commands, but many leftists don’t even try. To many, it’s not even a virtue. Indeed, the same kind of vitriol is a hallmark of the post-religious Right and is part of the explanation for extreme polarization. Post-Christian countries eschew Christian values, including the very values that can and should prevent even the most ardent activists from becoming arrogant . . . and intolerant. 

This is What Happens When You Have a Common Name, and It's Shared by at Least Two Musicians

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Science-Trained Folks Will Find This Amusing [I Hope]

The Pride of Cleveland

Now, just beat Detroit today, will you?

Satire is Funny Because It Comes Within the Razor's Edge of Reality

Like this:

Jesus Was A Socialist Deconstructionist Feminist, Claims Socialist Deconstructionist Feminist Scholar
Schraph, age 47, was amazed to find in his textual examinations that the Jesus he found virtually mirrored the things he himself believes about society. “When I strip away the things that obviously could not have been said by the Jesus of history, the Christ figure is practically an avatar of my own mind.”

Seriously, Our Country Has the Strangest Anarchists

No true anarchist has ever taken umbrage at a free newspaper liberally distributed to the public. Historically, this has been how anarchists made known their ideology.  As usual, it's merely indolent youth seeking to salve, through property damage and acting out, the growing awareness of their social inconsequence.

Fashionable Ignorance and Incuriousness are the Twin Plagues of Our Era

Judi Dench berates 'lazy young actors who ignore their artistic heritage'

Some Long Reading, But Worth It

Whenever I teach Paradise Lost, the hardest thing to get across is that God is God.

Thus, Balance is Returned to the Universe

The Loch Ness Monster isn’t dead after all

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cue My Rueful Laughter

Income tax revenue collapses; Malloy says taxing the rich doesn’t work

This was pointed out to Dann-el in the first year of his first term, I was there when it happened, and his response was dismissive, condescending, and hostile.  Considering he was meeting with a bunch of clergy, that seemed curious.  If anyone knows that money is fungible, its clergy.

Reality is a harsh teacher, isn't it?  I'm glad I kept all those boxes from the last move, because it may be time to head back to Ohio.  If Dann-el can't tax the rich, he's going to be coming for the middle class.


I occasionally come across quotations that snag my attention like a needle-hook to yarn.  I may or may not agree with the writer's perspective, I may find them derivative or vulgar [as a person, I'm much closer to an Edwardian ne'er-do-well than I am to a 21st century tech-infused social microbe], but they represent something that stirs my thinking and, sometimes, imagination.

From time to time, I'll share them and their source, but caveat emptor.
Of all the cultural myths, the farm boy who became something greater may have been the most powerful. Ye gods, we once practically worshiped this idea. It was one of the enduring features of American culture, as distinct from the various European cultures that spawned it. You see, if our farmers and fishermen could throw out the British, of all people, was there anything truly beyond us? We didn’t need noblemen, you see. We had farmers. We didn’t need warriors, we had soldiers. There was no need for great nobles, or learned men of haute culture. We could bootstrap it all ourselves.
The farm boy might become a great philosopher, or an astronaut, or a general. He might become a President or a Congressman. Perhaps he would be the next great scientist or engineer. He didn’t need the pedigree of an aristocrat, or the brand name of some noble house. He didn’t need to go to the grandest of colleges, or know all the right people. He didn’t need to have the correct political opinions if, indeed, he even bothered much with politics at all. If you could do the job, you could do anything, and it didn’t much matter what dusty mid-western farm you crawled out of.

A Ph.D. Can Be a License to Fudge, Exaggerate, or Misinform

For example, this writer has discovered that information gleaned through professionals featured in digital media may be suspect:
Yesterday, I watched this show on Netflix called “The Pyramid Code.”  I was looking to see if I could glean any story ideas from it since a type of pyramid appears in some of my current series (or, will, I should say).  However, I came across something else worth talking about.

For example, one of the “experts” shown on the program is Dr. Carmen Boulter from the University of Calgary.

Now, some of the stuff in the program sounds really cool, but I wanted to see what Dr. Boulter’s background was.  I could hardly believe the line of reasoning presented in the program was something being seriously believed by egyptologists, even a minority of them.

Well, it turns out that Dr. Boulter was indeed an instructor at the University of Calgary until 2011 (the program was filmed in 2009).  However, it turns out that she was part of the education department.  In other words, she wasn’t an egyptologist at all.

So, the driving force behind this program, apparently, is someone with no formal training on the subject.
After all, it stands for "piled high and deep".

Because Concerns About "Feelings" Are Born of Affluence and Social Stability

Why Doesn’t Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Some Things from the Vicar's Bookshelf

For those new to The Coracle, I don't read just about theology and related ministerial subjects.  Hence, these occasional suggestions are eclectic.

Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya by William Carlsen

A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham by Steve Kemper

Gods, Graves & Scholars: The Story of Archaeology by C.W. Ceram

Investigate or ignore, it's up to the reader.

Also, now in paperback:
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan  [It won the Pulitzer for autobiography last year.]

Further Unpopular Thoughts

I know a lot of people who are very upset about the recent election, which is no surprise given that I live in a politically blue state and work in a religious organization that is trendier than thou when it comes to progressive ideology, but I confess to confusion about those who would support the collection of puzzlewits who call themselves "antifa" [aka "anti-fascist"].

There is a radioactive irony when a group that dresses in black, smashes shop windows, and assaults those whom they judge to be "other" describes its actions as anti-fascist.  Please, I know that your education was limited, as most colleges these days are over-priced day care facilities for ostensible adults, but historical ignorance can't excuse your confusion, nor your censorious violence.

It's interesting that the people who "march for climate" often espouse socialism, as if an ideology would alter the climate anymore than would an organized march.  Is concern about one merely an excuse to implement the other?

I've had a number of professional actors in my parishes through the years; it's part of serving parishes in tony communities adjacent to metro New York. While they are generally pleasant, actors are often taken more seriously than they should by fellow parishioners in matters such as plumbing, roof replacement, or parking lot maintenance.  Considering their job is to read words written by someone else while on marks laid out on the floor in masking tape, it's amusing how much deference is given to their artfully expressed ignorance.  "He played that guy on that show that was about that stuff.  We should listen to what he says about the septic tank."

I notice the same thing happens to journalists and the politically involved, too, as they look to actors to serve as apologists and experts on everything from economic policy to climate science and gleefully quote from them and invite them to marches, demonstrations, and banquets.  Being stage struck is virulent and infectious and a bit embarrassing in grown-ups.  Regardless of the reasons behind it, I'm satisfied that the weird tradition of actors and journalists joining together in an annual celebration to give one another awards is now diminished.

Now, if only my seminary hadn't asked some actor to serve as the chairperson of the capital campaign to save the building that housed my dorm room and the dining hall.  It's a privately owned hotel now.

Considering the Source, Ironic Advice for College Age Men

...Joe Biden, who is out and about talking to guys the way guys talk to guys or so Joe Biden seems to think is the way guys talk to guys.

Thanks to a variety of sources, here's the irony:

Washington Post:  What are we going to do about Creepy Uncle Joe Biden?
U.K. Telegraph:  'Creepy Veep' Joe Biden 'nuzzles' wife of colleague and claims he is friends with lots of Somali cab drivers

If he were an Episcopal priest, he would be brought before the ecclesial court for "corrective therapy".

Okay, here's my two cents.  I guess I've been in locker rooms, too, through the years, although I'm not as likely to gleefully crow about it as does the former vice-president, and have almost never heard another man talk in any detail about his..um...technique with the other gender.

In the Marines, we were usually too sleepy or exhausted to talk and, besides, we did everything on the double and verbalization was a waste of time.  In my current gym, if we speak to one another at all, it's usually about correcting our dead lifting.  Back in the days when I would play team sports, we would either talk about strategy before the game or celebrate or commiserate after the game.  This makes me wonder if the former VP has ever, actually, been in a locker room or has simply been in a "locker room of the mind".

This would correspond with my impression from the only time that I ever saw him.  It was a number of years ago, now.  He was seated by himself in a car of the Acela train, half of it having been cleared by the Secret Service.  No one sat with or near him.  He had no newspaper, computer, or book.  He stared not out of the windows, but straight ahead at nothing.  He looked old, frail, and confused.  If he had been traveling by himself, and were not a prominent politician, I would have asked if he needed help or at least tried to conjure up a conversation with him.  He reminded me of that man on the news a couple of decades ago whose family would leave him at some Florida dog racing track each day with his name and address pinned to his sweater.

What is more likely, especially as it comes from a Washington insider, is that he is repeating what has been placed before him to repeat: An artificial image that is popular in his circle, that of the sexually brutal "other" who speaks ill of women and celebrates his common designs on their virtue.  The "other" probably voted with the wrong political party, too.  This is especially true of the college-age male, a group that is currently regarded as terminally disharmonious in the Orwellian Utopia of higher education.

It's interesting that, as more women than men study in colleges, earn academic degrees, and receive the bulk of scholarships and grants, there is a need for women still to be portrayed as minority victims in a brutalist culture.  It's as if an entire body of administrators, and their political enablers, had their livelihood dependent upon that perspective.