Saturday, September 26, 2020

Aid from Lord Byron …

… Hock and Soda-Water – Idlings. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What an outrageous performance! With every comic, bawdy, snarky, adventuresome stanza I feel my 2020 anxieties washing away. Don Juan is like – what? Not quite like anything I can think of, but you might shelve it near Tristram Shandy, The Three Musketeers, Tom Jones, Gargantua and Pantagruel, and The Golden Ass.

Complete thoughts …

… Some sentences about sentences. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In his new book, Suppose A Sentence, essayist Brian Dillon offers a compilation and discussion of memorable sentences that he has been copying into the pages of his notebooks for over two decades. These are the stars that, for him, shine more brightly from “a teeming sky of inscriptions”.

Bifurcated man …

… ‘The Selected Letters of John Berryman’ Review: Dark Dispatches - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No one is likely to surpass Berryman in providing the fullest account of what might mildly be called a harrowing career.

Thought prints …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Impossible Chairs (Alice Bea Guerin), Sonnet #531.

Something to think on …

The tendency of liberals is to create bodies of men and women — of all classes — detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion-mob rule. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined.
— T. S. Eliot, born on this date in 1888

Word of the Day …

… Pantophagous | Word Genius.

Poor Picasso...

 ...Plan for world's largest Picasso museum has been axed

Friday, September 25, 2020

Remembering Lancelot Andrewes …

… The Word and the words: a sonnet for Lancelot Andrewes | Malcolm Guite. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Squaring off …

 The Woke and the Un-Woke - Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Signs of a none-trad alliance can already be seen in the growing connections between the relatively secular “Intellectual Dark Web” and conservative religious intellectuals. Last year, Bishop Robert Barron—one of the most intellectually sophisticated and technologically savvy leaders of the Catholic Church—appeared on the podcast of Jordan Peterson, whose work he has praised. Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying—atheists who supported Bernie Sanders—recently became visiting fellows at Princeton University’s James Madison Program, an organization run by the conservative Catholic thinker Robert P. George.

Her own person …

… The Beauty Parton - Rob Long, Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… if the podcast producers thought they were frustrated by her refusal to be a feminist or an LGBTQ activist, they’re stopped cold by this admission. Dolly prays for Trump, by which she means, she’s not praying that he wins reelection or lowers his handicap. She prays that God will grant him wisdom and foresight and guide him as he leads the nation. Praying for the president—any president, every president—is actually part of the official liturgy of the Episcopalian church. But this is problematic for Dolly’s interviewers, for whom basic religious faith seems weird and baffling. They keep asking How does she do it? And she keeps answering them By writing songs that are emotionally true and not being a political activist and praying for God’s guidance. And they just don’t hear it. Can’t be that. Gotta be something else.

Q&A …

… Sebastian Shakespeare talks to Beryl Bainbridge | Literary Review | Issue 279. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)



 Can fiction be more truthful than biography? 
I’m not sure. It depends who’s writing it. If you stick to the facts of someone’s life and manage to absorb the personality of the subject, then it’s perhaps possible to give a truthful, yet fictional account. After all, who knows what anybody is really like, or what they really think? The biographer – same as a painter of portraits – cannot help but reproduce himself to some degree.

A provocative look at a singular movement …

… Musings and Reviews: A 19th century social, political, and religious experiment.

Something to think on …

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak; remember, Lord, how short my time is; remember that I am but flesh, a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. My days are as grass, as a flower of the field; for the wind goeth over me, and I am gone, and my place shall know me no more.
— Lancelot Andrewes, who died on this date in 1626

Pretty dumb …

… and that’s the least of it: China Rewrites Jesus With The Woman Caught In Adultery – HillFaith.

Word of the Day …

… Bergamot | Word Genius.

Partnership on pause...

 ...Smithsonian and V&A hit the brakes 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

RIP …

… Harry Evans. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good news …

… Musings and Reviews: American Bloomsbury: a special time and place.

Real journalism …

… The New York Times and Nikole Hannah-Jones abandon key claims of the 1619 Project - World Socialist Web Site.

Hannah-Jones: Of course, we know that 1776 was the founding of this country. The Project does not argue that 1776 was not the founding of the country.
This is, of course, an outright lie. Hannah-Jones has repeatedly made the “true founding” claim in innumerable Tweets, interviews and lectures. These are attested to in news articles and video clips readily available on the Internet. Her own Twitter account included her image against a backdrop consisting of the year 1619, with the year 1776 crossed out next to it.

Hmm …

… Paleontologists find evidence of new mass extinction 233 million years ago - UPI.com.



Gee, just think. We humans may nit be in charge after all.

PI Wittgenstein …

… The Philosopher and the Detectives: Ludwig Wittgenstein's Enduring Passion for Hardboiled Fiction | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In 1948, he contrasts his favorite “mag” with the Oxford philosophical journal Mind: “Your mags are wonderful. How people can read Mind if they could read Street & Smith beats me. If philosophy has anything to do with wisdom there’s certainly not a grain of that in Mind, & quite often a grain in the detective stories.”


…the minimalism of the genre often enacts an essential aspect of his philosophy. The hardboiled style is highly adept at the magic trick of saying without actually saying, of using indirect means such as tone and mood, atmosphere and scene, symbolism and choice of detail to conjure up an understanding, or simply a feeling, that is all the stronger, and perhaps all the truer, for never being stated explicitly.

An unfortunate update …

… Musings and Reviews: How the Tudors’ fierce power transformed the Church.

Let’s hope Tim changes his mind.

Take a look at these …

… Exceptional Works: Sherrie Levine | David Zwirner.

I can go with this …

… Glenn Reynolds: To reduce inequality, abolish Ivy League.

 “The annual government subsidy to Princeton University, for example, is about $54,000 per student, according to an estimate by economist Richard Vedder," Reich pointed out. "Other elite privates aren’t far behind. Public universities, by contrast, have little or no endowment income. They get almost all their funding from state governments. But these subsidies have been shrinking.”

Reckoning and a new start …

… A. E. Stallings on Ernest Hilbert’s Last One Out | B O D YB O D Y. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hilbert is enjoying, mid-career, a new formal freedom, and with it, wider territory to cover, or perhaps vice versa. Sonnets still pop up (Hilbert even has an eponymous sonnet form, the Hilbertian sonnet), but there are couplets, quintets, sestets, 12-liners, and nonce forms. Hilbert rhymes when he chooses, but rarely seems hemmed in by a pattern or perfection, often opting for consonantal rhymes that hearken back to Heaney. The effect of his in-formed but un-rigid rubato and syncopation is musical. When he does perfect rhyme, it is often to pack a punch,

Something to think on. …

If you treat life well, life is usually good to you. And I love life. There's a long-standing affair between us.
— Françoise Sagan, who died on this date in 2004

Word of the Day …

… Moleskin | Word Genius.

Gatherings …

… 3 poetry anthologies deliver the wisdom and beauty we desperately need | Datebook. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I prefer my poetry uncorrupted by politics or ideology, so I’ll skip the first of these. But the second looks really useful. I love this:


may yo seasons belong with endless green streets andpermanent summer legs.
— “haiku (for mungu and morani and the children of soweto)” By Sonia Sanchez

Still wondering after all these years …

… What Is Math? | Science | Smithsonian Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Cunningham had unwittingly re-ignited a very ancient and unresolved debate in the philosophy of science. What, exactly, is math? Is it invented, or discovered? And are the things that mathematicians work with—numbers, algebraic equations, geometry, theorems and so on—real?

Color me skeptical …

… How Algorithms Discern Our Mood From What We Write Online | Innovation | Smithsonian Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Gauging the mood of Twitter users is one thing. There is a reason, however, why many of us don’t spend our time tweeting. It seems to me that a good many people tweet before they think. And what they tweet makes one wonder how well they can think.

Haiku …

What a clear blue sky!
The old man sits and wonders
Where his life has gone.

Yes …

… Forgotten Good Poems on Twitter: "Robert Francis doesn't shout in any of his poems, but he's worth your careful listening. https://t.co/4zFQ8rWoqc" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ruthless …

… Musings and Reviews: How the Tudors’ fierce power transformed the Church.


For those like me …

… Lies, Damned Lies and Health Statistics – the Deadly Danger of False Positives – Lockdown Sceptics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So, to this article. Its about the testing we do with something called PCR, an amplification technique, better known to biologists as a research tool used in our labs, when trying to unpick mechanisms of disease. I was frankly astonished to realise they’re sometimes used in population screening for diseases – astonished because it is a very exacting technique, prone to invisible errors and it’s quite a tall order to get reliable information out of it, especially because of the prodigious amounts of amplification involved in attempting to pick up a strand of viral genetic code. The test cannot distinguish between a living virus and a short strand of RNA from a virus which broke into pieces weeks or months ago.

Sui generis …

The American Scholar: What a Great Talker She Was — Willard Spiegelman. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What did she do? She stood or, later in her career, sat on stage, sometimes with a table to go with her chair. And she talked. In the last years of her life, she made a series of recordings for RCA, although she had resisted the offer to do so at first, reluctant to perform without an audience, a stage, and her modest props. Arthur Rubinstein helped convince her. Arturo Toscanini, also a fan although he barely knew English, assigned his chief engineer to the project. It was long thought that after the initial run-throughs proved unsuccessful, the producer secretly turned on the tape during a warm-up. Some experts dispute that story, arguing that Draper knew she was being recorded. At any rate, her recorded legacy, which includes 17 examples of what Draper called her “company of characters,” made fans of Lily Tomlin, Mike Nichols, Simon Callow, Tom Waits, and countless others, including me.

As he was …

… Stephen Hawking by Leonard Mlodinow review – a memoir of friendship | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What is refreshing is the absence of the usual adulation of an exceptional mind and celebration of triumph over adversity. In their place is a tender account, full of genuine affection, which doesn’t shy away from Hawking’s intense focus, self-centredness, unpredictability and the difficulties faced by his wives and carers. The author, Leonard Mlodinow, is in an almost unique position. A fellow physicist and science writer, he worked closely with Hawking over many years during which they co-wrote two bestselling books: A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design, the collaboration on and writing of which forms the backdrop for this memoir.

Gauging proportions …

 The Writer–Translator Equation | by Tim Parks | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When I stop translating, I simply stop. Job done. But the translation can feed into the novel. Calasso points out that Abraham and Moses did not begin their patriarchal careers until they were seventy-five and eighty years old, respectively. Before that, we know very little about them. My hero is in his seventies. Could it be that the key phase of his life is just beginning?

 Nothing feeds from the novel to the translation.

Something to think on …

When everyone thinks the same, nobody is thinking.
— Walter Lippmann, born on this date in 1889

Interesting …

… Sweden's coronavirus pandemic 'may be finished': Danish researcher - The Local.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Denmark's state epidemiologist Kåre Mølbak warned that Denmark was still in the "first wave of infection" because the wave in the spring did not have time to "develop completely because we went into hibernation".

Word of the Day …

… Arborist | Word Genius.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Homage to Mistress Bradstreet …

… Musings and Reviews: Surveying Bradstreet’s spiritual and intellectual mettle.

Just wondering …

Does anybody know how to really get through to Blogger? They provide an option for feedback regarding their new version. I gave them plenty to no avail. I finally told then it eats shit. The post preceding this one took much longer than it should have because I had to go through hoops to not have a space between lines. There are times when you just want to have somebody you can deck.

Haiku …

Why do the shadows

Of trees on the old school's walls

Make him feel so sad?


Birthday girl …

… Kay Ryan at 75: Surprised by Joy - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

She belongs among other American eccentrics (think of Charles Ives and Joseph Cornell), who cannot be categorized or roped in. But “roping in” is just what Ms. Ryan does with words on the page: Her poems are tightly coiled, spare, often witty, and often deceptively easy-looking. Her work is formally contained but expansive in its implications. There is little overtly “personal” in its content. We don’t learn much about the artist’s life. The poetry is almost uniformly devoid of first-person pronouns other than an occasional “we.” Instead, it moves us via sheer style. This comes as a relief in our current climate of confessions, self-examinations, and mere bravado. Kay Ryan the woman is invisible; Kay Ryan the artist is uniquely recognizable. She gives us an autobiography at one remove.




A prayer for these times …

… Blandeur by Kay Ryan | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Today is Kay Ryan’s 75th birthday. She is a national treasure.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Terrific …

Around and about …

… First Known When Lost: Awake.


Now is the all-sufficing all
Wherein to love the lovely well,
Whate'er befall.

RIP …

… Winston Groom, author of 'Forrest Gump' dies at 77.

Odd anniversary …

… Chester Arthur becomes third president to serve in one year - HISTORY.

A healthy dose of science …

… Growing concern about Lockdown from doctors in Belgium | Dr. Malcolm Kendrick. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



This a must-read. A sample:

The use of the non-specific PCR test, which produces many false positives, showed an exponential picture. This test was rushed through with an emergency procedure and was never seriously self-tested.
The creator expressly warned that this test was intended for research and not for diagnostics.7

The PCR test works with cycles of amplification of genetic material – a piece of genome is amplified each time. Any contamination (e.g. other viruses, debris from old virus genomes) can possibly result in false positives.8 
The test does not measure how many viruses are present in the sample. A real viral infection means a massive presence of viruses, the so-called virus load. If someone tests positive, this does not mean that that person is actually clinically infected, is ill or is going to become ill. Koch’s postulate was not fulfilled (“The pure agent found in a patient with complaints can provoke the same complaints in a healthy person”).


It can also be seen here. https://docs4opendebate.be/en/open-letter/ 

Reason and truth …

 The Enlightenment’s Critics | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The tendency to apply the scientific method to otherwise unconnected spheres of life is what we typically mean by “scientism.” This tendency toward scientism is the theme of several of the essays in this volume, and is treated best in those essays on Polanyi and Heidegger. The reduction of our categories of the world merely to what can be measured, counted, or quantified, narrows our understanding. For Heidegger, truth is aletheia, “un-concealing,” and science is merely one mechanism for the world to disclose itself. By restricting our encounter with the world to the purely scientistic, or technological, we conceal from ourselves a more authentic encounter with it. 

The holier-than-everyone clowns strike again …

… Man and Underman at RADA | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If every person commemorated for exceptional achievement is to be pulled down from his plinth because he is subsequently found to have been less than a saint (according to current conceptions of sanctity), we shall end up honoring no one except ourselves. We shall not allow performances of Shakespeare because, in his will, he left his wife his second-best bed, thereby revealing (we suppose) his deep misogyny.
 The students appear to be self-righteously stupid, but the administrators are contemptible cowards. And I’ve always thought that Shaw, while a great playwright, was himself something of an ass.

Portrait of a self …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Svetlana Reflects Herself in the Mirror (Karl Briullov), Sonnet #530.

Word of the Day …

… Hardscape | Word Genius.

Something to think on …

The Divine Thing that made itself the foundation of the Church does not seem, to judge by his comments on the religious leadership of his day, to have hoped much from officers of a church.
— Charles Williams, born on this date in 1886

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Books in the time of Covid …

… Melted - Perfect Duluth Day. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For 72 hours, the jumbled books hang in limbo, neither well nor sick, welcome but not admitted, the romances discreetly smoldering, poetry tautly observing, YA sullenly pouting, memoirs pointedly recounting, board books happily clapping, references clinically mapping, fantasies wildly conjuring, mysteries slyly twisting.
Laced throughout, there are murderous thrillers, their pages potentially hosting death.

The lack of manners …

… In 2020, We Have Forgotten How To Leave People Alone – Reason.com.



Sooner or later, such a group is going to pick on the wrong people.

Not the Babylon Bee …

… German soccer team thrashed 37-0 after socially distancing from opponent. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

These days …

… Playin’ in the Rain | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is eerie. Non-musicians don’t realize how bad it is out there: basically, no work. 

Word of the Day …

… Miscellany | Word Genius.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Women’s Advocate at High Court, Dies at 87 - Bloomberg

… Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Women’s Advocate at High Court, Dies at 87 - Bloomberg.

I think she was a principled jurist, which does not mean I always agreed with her. But who the hell do you always agree with.

In case you wondered …

 … Lancaster Solved Its Rioting Problem In One Day. Here’s How They Did It.

It is not as though the Lancaster Police Department has access to more tools and resources than the police in Portland or Seattle. The difference here is that the people in positions of power actually wanted the law enforced, and took basic steps to see that it was done. The police were allowed to do their jobs, and suspects, once arrested, faced real and life changing consequences. It was that simple.

The essence of style …

… Style Reveals the Man by Joseph Epstein | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

All the chapters in Style refer back to and fill out the early chapter, “The Foundation of Style—Character,” which gives the book its overarching theme and makes the work unique. In this chapter, Lucas introduces the radical, but quite sensible, notion that character is at the center of good writing, no matter what the form.

Word of the Day …

… Surrey | Word Genius.

Appreciation …

… Brooklin celebrates author, editor Roger Angell | Community News | Penobscot Bay Press.

Something to think on …

It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen.
— George MacDonald, who died on this date in 1905

Hmm …

… 'Confounding': Covid may have already peaked in many African countries | Global health | The Guardian.

Prof Francesco Checchi, a specialist in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told MPs it was “broadly” true that coronavirus had not behaved in expected ways in African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Somalia.
“We are certainly observing a pattern that confounds us a little,” he told the UK’s international development committee’s inquiry into the impact of Covid on humanitarian crises.
“In a few important case studies – Kenya, for example – what seems to be happening is the epidemic may be peaking earlier than our naive models predicted.”

Thursday, September 17, 2020

I hope he sues …

… An Online Student Attended a Rooftop Party. He Was Reported to NYU and Suspended Indefinitely. – Reason.com.



On Sunday, August 23—a day after the party—NYU Director of Student Conduct Craig Jolley sent an email to Andy accusing him of "threatening the health and safety of the NYU Community." By 5:00 p.m. on Monday, NYU had suspended him indefinitely: To return to campus in 2021, Andy will need to write a reflection paper and beg for readmission. Resuming his education might be impossible, anyway, since he relies on a full-tuition scholarship that is now threatened by his disciplinary status.
Andy thinks NYU treated him unfairly. It's hard to disagree. Importantly, he didn't actually put anyone on campus in danger, because he had no plans to set foot on NYU property: He lives off campus, and all his classes were online.

Q&A …

… The Patient Ambition of John Milton: A Conversation with Thom Satterlee - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I suppose it should have been daunting — and at times it was daunting — to invent words and actions for one of the greatest poets of all time. To try to bring Milton to life on the page. I know I struggled in early drafts. I discarded … I don’t know how many, a couple hundred pages, some of which were written as if Milton were telling his life story. 
What helped me push through was inventing the fictional character of Reverend Theodore Wesson, the Anglican priest who narrates the novel and tells about the time when he met Milton and they had a sort of friendship in the latter half of 1665. I was able to see Milton through this narrator — or at least that’s how it felt

Expect more stories like this …

… Instapundit — WHEN YOU CAN’T TRUST THE NUMBERS: Bombshell: Nashville mayor’s office deliberately kept vital CO…

And the winners are …

… Soak In Award-Winning Astrophotography from Prestigious Contest. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hmm …

… The Lie of Viktor Frankl - Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)


In The Doctor and the Soul, written soon after his release from the camps, Frankl argues that Freud was reductive and low-minded, a common charge among those who, like Frankl, call themselves existential humanists. They prefer to talk about the soaring human spirit, unlike Freud with his grubby interest in fetishes, perversions, and the like. But Freud is a permanent wisdom writer, who sways us with even his wrongheaded ideas. Freud can teach you something about almost any human subject: love, death, culture, war, religion, growing up. Whenever you reread him, you come away with a new insight.
I heard enough about Freud by the time I was in high school that I felt obligated to read him. I tried. I just didn’t find it credible (to put it politely). I read Man’s Search for Meaning shortly after it came out. It was recommended to me by my Jesuit mentor, Father Gannon, whose specialty was existential phenomenology, which has shaped my thinking throughout my life. But while I may be an existentialist of sorts, neither Father Gannon nor I could be called “existential humanists.” Like Father Gannon, I am a Christian existentialist (like Gabriel Marcel).  
As for Freud, about the only thing he ever said that I agree with is that “A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror.” I agree with it because I know from experience that it is true. Viktor Frankl obviously had some serious flaws. But Man’s Search for Meaning — which I still have around here someplace — is in my view better than anything Freud ever wrote.

Good …

… Georgia Tech to pay $50K, improve free speech policy in legal ‘win’ for pro-life students | The College Fix.

The lawsuit was filed after the student government refused to fund a pro-life event featuring Dr. Alveda King, niece of civil-rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Word of the Day …

… Buck-And-Wing | Word Genius.

Something to think on …

We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.
— Hildegard von Bingen, who died on this date in 1179

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

RIP …

…. Stanley Crouch, Towering Jazz Critic, Dead At 74 : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Time for a chuckle …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: The Mob Boss, The Lawyer And The Bookkeeper.

Just so you know …

The Diabolical Side of Karl Marx.
Kengor highlights another feature of Marx ignored by his followers. This feature of Marxism should be disturbing to Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who said that she and her fellow organizers are “trained Marxists.” I wonder whether she shares Marx’s views on race. Marx’s son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, was viewed as having Negro blood in his veins. Marx denigrated him as “Negillo” and “The Gorilla.”
Marx had similar hate for Jews. He referred to his fellow socialist labor organizer Ferdinand Lassalle as a “greasy Jew,” “the little kike,” “water polack jew,” and “Jewish n—-r.” In 1844, Marx wrote an essay titled “The Jewish Question” in which he asks, “What is the worldly cult of the Jew?” His answer: “Haggling. What is his worldly god? Money.”

Holocaust deniers …

… Nearly two-thirds of US young adults unaware 6m Jews killed in the Holocaust | World news | The Guardian.

I guess these are the same ignoramuses who protest “mostly peacefully” in support of their “progressive”  views while claiming to be “anti-fascist.”

Q&A …

… Worlds of Wonder: In Conversation with Marly Youmans on her New Novel  Kenyon Review Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If I were to make a novel in which, say, a current English professor at Sarah Lawrence or Oberlin or some other elite private college proceeded to recount Charis’s story, I could hardly avoid writing about “racial supremacists dispossessing indigenous people.” But she is not of our time. Charis has complicated feelings about the colony and the tribes with their various alliances, but I don’t wish to write a book with characters who wear old-fashioned dress but reveal new-fashioned minds. Where is the truth in such stories? Instead, I aim to leap into the place, the time, and the mental world of my characters. To fail to do so is to fail the craft we practice.

Word of the Day …

… Astrolatry | Word Genius.

Is it worthwhile?

… Fame - Joseph Epstein, Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am not often recognized and have never come close to being hounded. I am mildly pleased on the rare occasions when I am. The other day in my local Whole Foods, a woman in the checkout line in front of me said, “I know who you are,” though nothing more. When I am recognized, I often respond by saying, “Damn, I guess this disguise didn’t work.”


Like the English comedian Spike Milligan, I would like to have had the chance to prove that great wealth would not corrupt me. But fame? I pretty much don't see its appeal. I also don’t find today’s celebrities very interesting. Cary Grant seemed interesting. Leonardo DiCaprio? Not so much.

And the winners are …

… Winning poems for 2020 August : IBPC.



The Judge’s Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

Civilized people can talk about anything. For them no subject is taboo.... In civilized societies there will be no intellectual bogeys at sight of which great grownup babies are expected to hide their eyes.
— Clive Bell, born on this date in 1881

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A dubious figure …

… which is not to say uninteresting: Paul Davis On Crime: Richard Sorge And Agent Sonya: A Legendary Spy's Unusual Recruitment In 1930S Shanghai.

The Word of the Day …

 … Chambray | Word Genius.

Pen and trowel …

… Garden Writing is About More than Plants | by Eric Scheske | Books Are Our Superpower | Sep, 2020 | Medium. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“Many traditional gardening tasks are unnecessary interventions that are both laborious and counterproductive. .. . We should dare to not do on part of the planting. This requires objectivity and humility.” Carol Deppe
What might those tasks be?

Strange bedfellows …

… Musings and Reviews: In the name of the father: Washington’s legacy.

Q&A …

… Jay Parini’s “Borges and Me”: Beyond Just a Memoir – The Middlebury Campus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 In many ways, I tried to make this tour of three or four days a tour through the major stories of Borges. So, when they stop at the [Carnegie] library, I’m kind of referencing the “Library of Babel,” one of Borges’ main stories. When Borges falls, hits his head and goes into the hospital, he himself alludes to an accident that had happened to him in 1938, which led to the writing of his famous story “Funes The Memorious.” I keep referencing the great essay “Pierre Manard, Author of the Quixote,” because I believe I got from Borges the idea that we’re all just rewriting literature. So I’m rewriting Borges’ story by writing my story.

But is THE science really science?

… Coronavirus Update XXXI: THE Science Cannot Be Questioned, Denier! – William M. Briggs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Science is about evidence.
Here is my review of  Tycho and Kepler.

Something to think on …

Most of the arguments to which I am party fall somewhat short of being impressive, owing to the fact that neither I nor my opponent knows what we are talking about.
— Robert Benchley, born on this date in 1889

Good …

… Pennsylvania: Judge Rules Wolf, Levine's Shutdown Orders Unconstitutional. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wolf is responsible for the deaths of thousands he ordered sent to nursing home. He is despicable.

Dealing with scolds …

… Anecdotal Evidence: 'The Disapproval of the Dietarily Correct'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Asparagine, a nutrient found in meat, eggs, and dairy products, is essential for healthy brain development. Red meat is rich in vitamin B-12, which is not found in most vegetables and cannot be produced by the body. Doesn’t mean you should live on Big Macs, but an occasional helping of  boeuf bourguignon is good for you.