Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Alexa front and center...

...More than the radio, apparently

Mind on vacation …

… mouth working overtime: Joe Biden Claims to Have Worked on 2016 Paris Climate Deal with Chinese Leader who Died in 1997.

Nice to know …

… Belgian city of Aalst says anti-Semitic parade 'just fun' - BBC News.

Guess they really get off on genocide.

This sure sounds interesting …

 Crimes, Detectives and Mysteries : DeKok and the Dead Harlequin.

Come in and look around …

… John Ashbery's NEST > Center Hall In. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Fumbling for a word is everybody's birthright.
— Anthony Burgess, born on this date in 1917

Unflattering insights …

… The prophetic Raymond Chandler | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Raymond Chandler’s America remains recognizable, even familiar, in 2020, in nearly all ways but one: the extent to which American government has advanced from a political-financial racket to an ideological-financial one.

A sense of depth …

Pennine’ by Anne Stevenson - Poem of the Week - TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Local author explores religion in fiction, pop culture in new book - News - New Jersey Herald - Newton, NJ. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Iconic artist Andy Warhol, he said, was one of those in pop culture not normally recognized for his roots in Catholicism. While most known for painting Campbell Soup cans and portraits of notable entertainers including Marilyn Monroe and Blondie singer Debbie Harry, Ripatrazone has additionally explored the multifaceted Warhol in his book, calling him one of art’s “finest visual prophets.” Unknown to many was Warhol’s devotion to Catholicism, he said, including quietly attending daily Mass, volunteering his time to provide food for the homeless and painting his own version of the Last Supper.

Q&A …

… Emma Copley Eisenberg on Researching and Writing The Third Rainbow Girl - Write Now Philly. (Hat tip, Dave lull.)

Opening the door to nonfiction turned out to be the way into writing this book more honestly and ethically, as you can make clear in nonfiction your own background and what you are bringing to telling a particular story. I started reading some of the coverage about the 1980 Rainbow Murders that was available online, and immediately it became clear to me that the story that existed was deeply wrong and portrayed a stereotyped image of this place I had known so well and of the kind of women who might come there as travelers. It was an impulse to contribute, to tell the story hopefully better than it had been told before. And then my own personal experiences came knocking again and began to rhyme with the things I was learning about the murders, so I decided to include some pieces of insight into the contemporary community I gained while living there as well.

Tough guy and his AI sidekick …

… THE GREAT AMERICAN DECEPTION | Kirkus Reviews.

I had the privilege of reading an early version of this book. Arjay is quite a character.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Haiku …




Ivy in the dark.
The lights in nearby houses.
A breath of magic.

Annals of hypocrisy …

… The Young Turks' Progressive Founder Urged His Staff Not To Unionize | HuffPost.

Movies are dead...

...Long live libraries! 

Who knew?

… Crimes, Detectives and Mysteries : Crimes in the drugstore.

Something to think on …

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice.
— Octavia Butler, who died on this date in 2006

Who needs standards?

… Ohio graduates won’t have to be “proficient” in math or English, under state superintendent’s plan - cleveland.com.


Hmm …

… Don’t Talk to Strangers? These Apps Encourage It. - WSJ.

Do apps that help teens talk to strangers provide unique and meaningful benefits? And can they ensure the safety of the many children who use them?

Just so you know …

… 6 inspiring poets you should read year-round, not just during Black History Month. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

… Chicago poet Lisel Mueller dies; Pulitzer winner was one of nation’s most honored writers - Chicago Sun-Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Anniversary …

… Raising the flag on Iwo Jima: Here's the story behind that iconic World War II photo | Live Science.

This was certainly, as they say, an iconic image in my childhood. There was a gigantic reproduction of it my first grade school. 

Blogging note …

Blogging will be a bit spotty over the next couple of days. Debbie right now is my top priority.

The primacy of...

...BBC News

Tax dollars at work …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Applying For A Government Job.

Tales of odds and ends …

… Making a Home Among Monsters and Martians | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Hollars’s insistence that the strange should not be eliminated but seriously engaged with works to encourage in his readers an acceptance of mystery. John Keats’s concept of “negative capability” and Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s call to “live the questions” are both at home in Hollars’s new book. With this overview in mind, Hollars’s invitation to “wallow in the weird together” is all the more worth accepting.

A good idea …

… To Celebrate Being Alive | Chapter 16. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

These pieces truly are essays, attempts at illuminating corners that are presentably dark, particularly in our understanding of devotion and its relationship to art. He lays out his mission in the preface, writing that “poetry celebrates being alive as an act of consciousness.” He convincingly makes a case for that optimistic viewpoint in the chapters that follow.

A little bit of luck …

… Crimes, Detectives and Mysteries : Lee escapes the hangman.


Something to think on …

All that passes is raised to the dignity of expression; all that happens is raised to the dignity of meaning. Everything is either symbol or parable.
— Paul Claudel, who died on this date in 1955

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Cryptic and entertaining …

… Crimes, Detectives and Mysteries : Travels in the Scriptorium.

Holy dying …

… Sir Roger Scruton: Last days of a giant | Mark Dooley | The Critic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

During our last weekend together, I watched in silent grief as he began to rise ‘above the wind of contingency that blows through the natural world’.  In a way, he had already passed through the window of our empirical world to that ‘other sphere’ about which he had so often wrote so beautifully and persuasively.  He was dying, yet he was also rising to assume the transcendental standpoint which, he believed, was the answer and the solution to every form of pseudoscience.  Whether it was aiding dissidents in Communist Czechoslovakia or abandoning the academy for a life of farming and writing, Scruton had always given concrete expression to his ideals.  In his own life, he had always given witness to what he believed in and resolutely fought for.  And now, as he approached the end, he was showing us how to transcend suffering by finding meaning in it. ‘I not only learned things about the world, but I absorbed them to the point where they became part of who I am,’ he said.  One of those things was the deep mystery at the heart of each person – the fact that we are in the world but not of it. 

Not the place you may think you know …

… My Hollywood: A Triptych – Boris Dralyuk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Seeking among sounds …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Satin Tuning Fork (Yves Tanguy), Sonnet #499.

Anniversary and appreciation …

… The Originality of a Maverick Matchup - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fifty years ago, such an album was released: “Nilsson Sings Newman,” a maverick matchup of two rising singer-songwriters. Randy Newman supplied the quirky songs and played piano, while Harry Nilsson eschewed his own gifted songwriting to sing and to arrange the background vocals. Released In February 1970, the recording is a jewel of originality, understatement and studio wizardry.

See also: Nilsson Sings Newman.

Something to think on …

There is only one trait that makes the writer. He is always watching.
— Morley Callaghan, born on this date in 1903

Reassessment …

… Reconsidering the Piano Legacy of Dave Brubeck, in a Deep Dive Centennial Special | WBGO. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Brubeck was a swing player who overlaid classical music and modern jazz onto his swing style, not a classical player who got into jazz. The critics got it exactly wrong. And because his style was well established by 1942, his swing feel was an older approach, not fully compatible with the modern bebop feel — and, one could argue, not fully compatible with his rhythm sections, which were in the modern vein (even though they were not at all in the modern vanguard).
I was unaware that Brubeck has been disparaged by self-appointed jazz purists. It was certainly hip to like him if you were young in the ‘50s.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Paul Bowles


Until recently, Paul Bowles was not an author with whom I was familiar; his most celebrated novel, The Sheltering Sky, was not one I'd encountered. 

I spent the last two weeks reading that book, and am not sure, ultimately, how to characterize it. The first of three parts charts the arrival of a feuding American couple in North Africa; this is followed by their separation and, later, by their violent confrontation with the Sahara, including its people and landscape. 

The first section of the novel was the most effective, though the travelogue -- like the dialogue -- seemed a bit derivative. The second part, in which the couple grows apart, benefited from interesting plot sequences, and a cast of eccentric characters, but was rendered ineffective, I thought, as a result of Bowles's inability to identify what had brought the two together in the first place. The final section is the most severe, with unexpected forays into sexual violence and physical hardship. This part was -- for me, at least -- incongruous: Bowles's main female character, Kit, assumes an identity not at all in line with what's been developed before. Her transition is too rapid, and therefore less believable. 

In many ways, the final section of the novel felt rushed: if Bowles sought to make a point about American women, for instance, or about the role of sexuality in human relations, he ought to have expanded that section to include more visible contrasts between American society and the scene Kit and Port, her husband, encounter in Algeria. One argument which Bowles does, however, effectively make focuses on the idea of control. At the start of the novel, everything is programmed: Kit, especially, cannot take any action which first confirming its acceptability. By the end, she's jettisoned all of this: she is beholden to no one, and seems, in a sense, to have come completely undone. 

The question is why: why has this happened? Is it the desert which has done this to Kit, or is it some sort of recognition around the nature of her relationship with Port? I am not sure that Bowles himself knows the answer, and the result is a novel searching, frustratingly, for a moral. 

Coming home …

… Howard Jacobson: 'Russia, My Homeland' – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My own contribution to the task of shaking the Urals from our shoes was preferring Tolstoy to Dostoevsky and once in a while putting in a word for Turgenev above them both. But weren’t there twinges of recognition whichever of them I read? Yes. No. Yes.

Something to think on …

Nobody is ever sent to Hell: he or she insists on going there.
— W. H. Auden, born on this date in 1907

For today …

… The Friday Poem: The Fight by Joy Harjo | The Spinoff. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden,)

A real oldie …

… Listen to the first rock and roll song ever recorded. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Take a look …

… Top Shots: The Week's Best Photojournalism. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Vintage Q&A …

… Alastair Morgan - Alastair Morgan talks to Anthony Burgess | Literary Review | Issue 056. (Ht tip, Dave Lull.)

Yes, language gets in the way, and is meant to get in the way. You’re meant to observe the structure, as well as the message the structure is trying to convey. This is, of course, analogous to music where there is no distinction between structure and content. Indeed, it is possible to regard literature of the class 2 nature, chiefly poetry, as an attempt to recall a non-existent golden age in which language was totally iconic. Of course it never was. We like to believe it was, and when Tennyson writes one of his onomatopoeic lines on the murmuring of innumerable bees and all that sort of stuff, it is an attempt to restore a golden age in which language gave you the referent as much as it possibly could.

Anniversary …

… 20 February 1966 - This Day in Aviation.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Haiku …



On the patio
At night, in the dark, alone:
Some sort of preview.

Good for her …

… Farmer in Eastern Washington Invites Bloomberg to Teach Her How Simple Farming Is | News and Politics.



"But rather than take offense over your comments, I’d like to offer a simple invitation- please come show me how simple farming is because evidently I have way over complicated this whole thing."

The letters are worth reading, but …

… Flannery O'Connor's Good Things | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… a serious complaint must still be registered. Open up Valdimir Nabokov’s 1962 novel Pale Fire and you will find, first, “John Shade’s” poem in four cantos of heroic couplets, followed by an extensive commentary authored by his neighbor and colleague Charles Kinbote. The commentary, however, is no such thing. What purport to be glosses on the lines of the poem turn out to be eccentric and pretentious flourishes intermingled with autobiographical indulgences such that Shade’s poem becomes little more than a coat rack from which to hang Kimbote’s crazed story.
Good Things Out of Nazareth comes irritatingly close to realizing Nabokov’s playful fiction as a reality. Alexander’s commentary and footnotes are often useful but frequently divagate on such matters as the contemporary Democratic Party and Trump’s election, the poet Allen Tate’s performance in the college classroom, the “good libations” had at Notre Dame literature conferences, and even the irrelevant detail that Catholic theologian Teilhard de Chardin was mentioned at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Page-long—and inaccurate—summaries of Orestes Brownson’s theory of territorial democracy and Russell Kirk’s description of the conservative tradition are given, simply because the two figures are mentioned for reasons unconnected to those matters. None of this belongs.
This intrusion of politics and celebrity is the bane of contemporary life.

Something to think on …

Civilization exists precisely so that there may be no masses but rather men alert enough never to constitute masses.
— Georges Bernanos, born on this date in 1888

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for January 2020 : IBPC.



The Judge's Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A movie for these times …

… Big Town, Big Talk: On “Motherless Brooklyn” - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The “New York isn’t as good as it was in [insert lionized era here]” bitch session is a time-honored tradition. But there’s a difference between not caring for the creative class revered by a new generation and there not being that class to revere or despise at all. It’s impossible to look at New York today and imagine it being the inspiration and incubator for the disparate likes of Frank O’Hara or Rona Jaffe or Patti Smith or Barbra Streisand or the New York Dolls or the Brill Building songwriters. Nostalgia is a perilous state for the artist or the critic to take up residence in, but when a culture has reduced itself to retread and revenue, you might as well long for a past with some substance to it.
Maybe this is why the 1950s New York in director, screenwriter, and star Edward Norton’s film of Jonathan Lethem’s novel Motherless Brooklyn feels alive in a way that the real New York City no longer does.

Introducing …

… Russia’s Dr. Seuss. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Name: Kornei Chukovsky. Dates: 1882 to 1969. Number of supremo-supremo classic children’s books to his credit: ten or twelve. His stuff is a lot like Green Eggs and Ham: about that long; rhymes bouncing around like popcorn; no real point in sight. (Of course, like with everything else, you can carry whatever point you like into his books and then pretend you found it there. It’s like cops planting weed in people’s cars.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Hmm …

 Rémi Brague’s bracing critique of modernity’s low-rent logos – Catholic World Report.

Brague rehabilitates the Good not as a norm but as the “infrastructure of life.” We need to know the ground of our existence, or in the manner of Plato the “creative principle,” and in the biblical sense that creation itself is goodness and that being is fundamentally good. Plato compared the Good to the sun or that which nurtured life and helped bring it into being. Cut off from the sun, man’s survival is in jeopardy. Modernity shields man from the sun by its stipulation that we don’t know if we come from a good Principle or Being that nurtures our being. Can we even make sense of the ground and content of human freedom? But what if the ancient biblical teaching is right, creation is goodness because a “generous God calls us to partake of his own loving life.” Then, Brague concludes, we have “reasons to ensure the continuance of life.” We also know the meaning of our freedom.

Blogging note …

I'm just back from a funeral, and now must head off to the hospital. Blogging must once again take a back seat.

Hmm …

… Berkeley warns students about coronavirus 'memes and GIFs' that spread 'xenophobia'.

You would think they'd be primarily concerned about the infection.

Hmm …

… Evildoers and Their Art | Peter Hitchens | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Does artistic merit cancel wickedness? Can the art be considered separately from the artist? Surely not. To appreciate the work of Rembrandt, for instance, is to see and to feel something of him, and in my case to feel a strong personal liking across the centuries. Gill was plainly capable of recognizing goodness, and was not its constant enemy, as his Stations of the Cross show. Even today some solitary pilgrim to Westminster Cathedral might be moved by them to pity, mercy, or repentance. Can artistic beauty do so much good that it simply bypasses the moral quality of the artist? Plenty of artists have lived less than saintly lives, to put it mildly. Yet at some point, their works have served the cause of goodness.

Hmm …

… Atheist Richard Dawkins Is, Sort Of, Talking Approvingly About Cannibalism, Again – HillFaith.



As Chesterton said, “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”



Not sure why the author of this piece thinks Dawkins is one of the smartest people in the world. Just what notable bench science has he done? As for The God Delusion, no one in his right mind believes in the God Richard Dawkins doesn't believe in.

Something to think on …

There is only one history of any importance, and it is the history of what you once believed in, and the history of what you came to believe in.
— Kay Boyle, born on this date in 1902

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

I’m flattered, to say the least …

… A.M. Juster on Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Vintage commentary …

… Christopher Hitchens on New York City's Petty Policies | Vanity Fair.

So there are laws that are defensible but unenforceable, and there are laws impossible to infringe. But in the New York of Mayor Bloomberg, there are laws that are not possible to obey, and that nobody can respect, and that are enforced by arbitrary power. The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law. Tyranny can be petty. And “petty” is not just Bloomberg’s middle name. It is his name.

The link I should have posted …

… Miscellaneous Musings : Some advice about not being the worst kind of donkey.

Unelected bureaucracy strikes again …

… The slow death of French cheese - UnHerd. (Hat tip, Rich Llorett.)

“I get up at 5am. I collect the milk myself from the farms in the village. I warm the milk,” Mr Michelin told me. “I scoop it carefully into cylinders. I pay attention to the varying consistency and taste of the curd. It alters subtly with the seasons, depending on the qualities of the grass. I mold the cheeses by hand. Every cheese is a little different.”
“That’s what gets me into trouble these days,” M. Michelin said. “Brussels and Paris say that the cheeses must all be the same. There seem to be new rules every month. How can I carry on if all my cheeses have to be identical?”


Surely, this is cause for Frexit.

You can bet on it …

… BookLoons Reviews - Pascal's Wager by James A.Connor.

Tonight …

A TRIBUTE TO JAMES TATE &
RUSSELL EDSON, WITH BEER

PRESENTED BY:



POETRY IN COMMON
 &
THE GREEN LINE CAFÉ POETRY SERIES
 &
100 THOUSAND POETS FOR
PEACE AND CHANGE


Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 6-7:30 PM

Give Yourself A Break!


WITH READINGS BY DREW MILLER &
LEONARD GONTAREK, WITH
SPECIAL GUESTS & BEER


THE GREEN LINE CAFE IS LOCATED
AT 45TH & LOCUST STREETS
PHILADELPHIA, PA  USA
(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)
        greenlinecafe.com
gontarek9@earthlink.net

     This Event Is Free

Q&A …

… Stephen McCauley on What Makes a Comic Novel | Public Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Obviously, we’re talking in gross generalizations here. But I think that one of the reasons comic novels can be so delightfully subversive is that they can skirt around the idea of moral improvement.

Sweet …

… Crossing the Seine | The Walrus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Update and more …

… “No matter what happens tomorrow” | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… we got a Big Call last Thursday morning, our first one since August. Alas, it was a dry run—the donor lungs didn’t pan out—but it did serve as a welcome reminder that Mrs. T is still at the top of the transplant list. May another donor offer come soon, this one with a happier ending.
Read the whole thing.

Something to think on …

Art was as much in the activity as in the results. Works of art were not just the finished product, but the thought, the action, the process that created them.
— Jean M. Auel, born on this date in 1936

Monday, February 17, 2020

Let us pause for a chuckle …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Man Brings Friend Home to Meet The Wife.

RIP …

Arkansas author Charles Portis, who wrote 'True Grit,' dies at 86. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Let's not keep forgetting

… ‘Wilmington’s Lie’: This little-known 1898 coup in North Carolina had an ugly legacy | Book review.

The final third gauges the aftershocks. The Wilmington overthrow did not cause the triumph of white supremacy in the South, but it did help it spread. The first Jim Crow law passed in 1899, and the Democrats took the state in 1900, unleashing a flood of segregationist legislation to solidify white domination.
I'm so old I remember when the Democratic Party was the party of segregation. (Robert Byrd filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights bill).

Something I just stumbled upon online …

… Frank made me do it - The Plasteel Spider Factory — LiveJournal.


A review of Nige’s book …

 PressReader.com - The Golden Age of English Church Monuments.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For Presidents Day …

… Miscellaneous Musings : America’s first spy ring.

Something to think on …

A life is measured by how it is lived for the sake of heaven.
— Chaim Potok, born on this date in 1929

RIP …

… Antonia Gransden obituary | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, maybe…

… Oscars best original song winners – ranked! | Culture | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Best to look up the entire list. Some pretty good songs didn’t make this selection.

War’s harvest …

… Bruce Dawe – Homecoming | Genius. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Bruce Dawe turned 90 on Saturday.

In memoriam …

… The way we read now | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The sad truth is that the novel now doesn’t occupy the same cultural high ground, and it doesn’t typically feel to readers like a practical device for addressing problems. The decline of the novel’s prestige reflects a new crisis born of our culture’s increasing failure of intellectual nerve and its terminal doubt about its own progress.

Big win …

… Miscellaneous Musings : Classic triumph of the underdog.

RIP …

… Elizabeth Cullinan, Writer With an Eye for Detail, Dies at 86 - NEWSRUST. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Amazing …

Proof you can become a billionaire while remaining a complete fucking idiot. This this asshole has ever gardened?



(6) Cam Edwards on Twitter: "Mike Bloomberg’s contempt for rural America is real. https://t.co/j42L7N5lMB" / Twitter

Haiku …

Eleventh and Pine.
The park. Blue sky. Winter sunlight.
How many more years.

Appreciation …

… A Bellow from France - Commentary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Among the previous generation of American novelists, the sensibility closest to Houellebecq’s is Saul Bellow’s—passionately engaged but authoritative and judgmental, an essayist’s sensibility as much as a novelist’s. If his characters frequently hold crackpot opinions, jthat never make his novels feel like crackpot projects. Houellebecq, educated at the elite National Agronomic Institute, has a mastery of, and a curiosity about, the facts of science. He delights in them. There is a fussy statisticality about his writing: “The year 1970 saw a rapid growth in erotic consumption, despite the efforts of a still-vigilant sexual repression…. Naked breasts spread rapidly on the beaches of Southern France. In the space of a few months, the number of sex shops in Paris rose from 3 to 45.”

I've read three of his novels — The Elementary ParticlesSubmission, and The Map and the Territory (which I reviewed). I think he's a must-read. (I have Serotonin, but haven't got around to reading it yet.) Odd that this article doesn't that he his pen name is the maiden name of the grandmother who raised him. His birth name is Michel Thomas. Here is my review of The Map and the Territory.

Death and horses …

… Just Dying for It: On Tolstoy’s “Lives and Deaths: Essential Stories” - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There are only four tales in this concise, beautiful little volume, and there could be several other Tolstoy collections with the same title that would contain none of these. 

Hmm …

… How Are Your Telomeres Today? Can Faith Actually Help You Live Longer, Healthier? – HillFaith.

 “Adults who frequently attend religious services, pray with regularity, and consider themselves to be religious tend to exhibit longer telomeres than those who attend and pray less frequently and do not consider themselves to be religious.”
The authors of the study believe theirs was the first comprehensive data-driven analysis of the relationship between religious practice and telomere length. And, being the first such analysis, the authors also acknowledged that their findings aren’t definitive and more study is needed.

Something to think on …

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
— Henry Adams, born on this date in 1838

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The flow of being …

… First Known When Lost: River.

Walter Pater wrote one of the finest essays on Wordsworth.  Among many other perceptive observations, he notes: "And the mixture in his work, as it actually stands, is so perplexed, that one fears to miss the least promising composition even, lest some precious morsel should be lying hidden within -- the few perfect lines, the phrase, the single word perhaps, to which he often works up mechanically through a poem, almost the whole of which may be tame enough." 

Just so you know …

… Global CO2 emissions in 2019 – Analysis - IEA.



The United States saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis – a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period.

Hmm …

… Miscellaneous Musings : Maigret says, “I cannot stand cretins”.

Parsing the Pope …

… Pope Francis's dream.

The Day Nothing Happened - The Catholic Thing.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also: Analysis: ‘Querida Amazonia’ and the German synod.

Something to think on …

Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.
— Alfred North Whitehead, born on this date in 1861

February Poetry at North of Oxford …

… From The Poetry Editor.

… The Forge by John D. Robinson.

Two Poems By Christopher Barnes.

Time takes pawns like a short game of chess by DS Maolalai.

Tree by Louis Gallo.

Winter beauty …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Snow at Louveciennes (Alfred Sisley), Sonnet #498.

Sounds like a good idea …

… The best way to start your day: Read a poem — Quartz at Work. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

As the former director of Correymeela, a thriving charity in Northern Ireland, Ó Tuama experienced how starting each day with poetry can infuse a kind of lyricism to the most quotidian managerial tasks. “I spent an hour and a half looking at the mystery of language and that has actually really helped me,” he says.

Where we find ourselves …

… Ross Douthat’s New Book Examines Our Cultural Disaffection as a Problem of Absence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
We are, Douthat tells us, exhausted. We make the same movies, over and over (most involving Marvel superheroes or galaxies far, far away). Our young turn away from actual sex and toward the consolations of pornography: sex without human relationship, and therefore without consequence and contingency. We approach “politics the way [we] approach a first-person shooter game—as a kind of sport, a kick to the body chemistry, that doesn’t actually put anything in [our] relatively comfortable late-modern lives at risk.” As Walter Benjamin famously predicted as early as 1939, we aestheticize through alienation, and alienate through aestheticization: living our lives in second order.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Further blogging note …

Did all my chores today. But did not sleep well last night. Just woke up from a long nap. And I’m still    tired. Blogging will resume tomorrow.

Time for a chuckle …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: St Valentine's Day Flowers.

No blogging until later …

I have to be over the hospital shortly, so I won't be able to do any blogging until whenever I get home.

Something to think on …

Always get to the dialogue as soon as possible. I always feel the thing to go for is speed. Nothing puts the reader off more than a big slab of prose at the start.
— P. G. Wodehouse, who died on this date in 1975

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ahem …

… Scientists say solar system affects Earth's carbon cycle - UPI.com.

Blogging note …

I must take off for the hospital. Blogging will resume later.

Double murder and more …

 Miscellaneous Musings : IT’S A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT in Barnaby Rudge.

Anniversary …

 Miscellaneous Musings : THE 10 MOST CYNICAL THINGS GEORGES SIMENON EVER WROTE/SAID/PONTIFICATED.

Just listen …

… Darshan-abhilashi by David Holper | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… The Lord Gave Me a Word for 2020 | Anne Kennedy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Most of us are mediocre. We just get up in the morning and go to work, over and over again. Our children grow up and leave home and we keep getting out of bed and doing whatever’s in front of us until we can’t get out of bed anymore. While we’re doing that, the body slowly breaks apart. The mind and spirit don’t get stronger, if anything they get weaker—knowledge isn’t power, it is sorrow. The more you know other people, the more you grieve for them. The more you know yourself, the more you know that you are actually decreasing, and Christ is increasing, as he should.

Something to think on …

If your vision of the world is of a certain kind you will put poetry in everything, necessarily.
— Georges Simenon, born on this date in 1903

Time to get moving again …

… Back to the Future by Peter Thiel | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Are we making progress? Not so much, Douthat answers. Baby boomers will wince at his title, since “decadence” sounds to them like the complaint of an old curmudgeon. They cannot stand to think of themselves as old, nor can they bear to think of the society they dominate as dysfunctional. But this is a young man’s book. Douthat can see our sclerotic institutions clearly because his vision is not distorted by out-of-date memories from a more functional era.

The old order passeth …

Newspaper Publisher McClatchy Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - WSJ.

See also: Munger Tells His Newspaper Company That Papers Are Finished.

Just so you know …

… Prince Harry’s Employment Prospects in Canada (Worst-Case Scenario) | The Nation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From Gallup …

… More in U.S. Say They Are Better Off Than in Past Elections.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

In case you wondered …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Lincoln Showed His Steel: How President Abraham Lincoln Made The Tough Decisions To End A Bloody Civil War.

Something to think on …

The sources of poetry are in the spirit seeking completeness.
— Muriel Rukeyser, who died on this date in 1980

Blogging note …

I have to be over at the hospital early today. So blogging will resume later.

Quite a group …

… Flannery O‘Connor and Friends, Revisited | George Weigel | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Above all, Good Things Out of Nazareth—Gordon’s biblical metaphor for the Southern literary renaissance, which Dr. Alexander adopts for his title—is a powerful reminder of the intensity of Flannery O’Connor’s Catholic faith: an intensity that was unmarked by sentimentality, that was informed by an astonishingly broad reading in the Fathers of the Church and St. Thomas Aquinas, and that sustained her through many dark nights of the soul, both literary and physical. At the end, that is the deepest impression her letters leave: Here is a woman of extraordinary courage whose configuration of her life to the Cross was a source of both personal strength and literary genius. 

Listen in …

… Episode 361 – Dmitry Samarov – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have an undying inner need to keep expressing myself, in the face of fairly universal indifference. It just doesn’t discourage me; it might be some sort of insanity.”

Hmm …

… on Recent Books On Music – On the Seawall. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are …

… The 25th Annual Photo Contest Winners - Lake Superior Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

English Heritage...

...And economic growth; an encouraging picture

Time for a chuckle …

(Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

This is quite well done …

Blogging note …

I have things to do around the house, then have to take off to visit Debbie. I’ve done some blogging and will do more later.

And some people are rejoicing …

… Jordan Peterson Is Sick | The American Conservative.

So if you’re looking for demons, which fits the role more perfectly: the troubled academic who took medication to deal with his wife’s cancer and the strains of life in the public spotlight — or the social-justice hashtag sadists who revel in his misery?
The latter are simply despicable, and deserve to be shunned.

Exemplary …

… Meet Titania McGrath, the Wokest SJW on Twitter – Reason.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Based in London, McGrath burst onto social media in 2018 and describes herself as a "radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminismsocial justice and armed peaceful protest." She identifies as "non-binary," "polyracial," and ecosexual" and claims to"teabag the foes of justice with a gender-neutral scrotum." She is the author of the new book Woke: A Guide to Social Justice, which is climbing the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States. 

This the day the Lord made …

… rejoice and be glad: Ordinary Time | The North American Anglican. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… A classical education can be surprisingly useless | Catholic Herald. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The consequence was that we left school reasonably knowledgeable about classical history and literature but ignorant of pretty well everything else. I can testify that in my 10 years at boarding school I never once had a science lesson.
Well, I never attended boarding school, but I did have a classical education, as well as three courses in lab science. And actually, as Albert Jay Nock pointed out, that knowledge of classical history and literature does give one an experienced mind.

Not your ordinary true-crime tale …

… Nigeness: Quiet Dell.

Something to think on …

I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe's intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.
— Antony Flew, born on this date in 1923

A vintage newsreel …

… Just because: R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House | About Last Night.

I once had a very pleasant chat with Buckminster Fuller.

Presidents as authors …

… ‘Author in Chief’ Review: The Oval Office Book Club - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The fortitude and unexpected writerliness involved in the creation of Grant’s book make for an impressive but familiar story. It is decades further on—after dust jackets, department-store bookselling, catalog shopping and Carnegie libraries have further transformed the publishing landscape—that Mr. Fehrman finds the unlikely, taciturn standout of “Author in Chief.” In 1920, Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge, newly famous for suppressing a labor revolt by the Boston police, secured the Republican vice-presidential nomination in large part by allowing some wealthy backers in business and advertising to promote a collection of his levelheaded, self-written (in pencil) speeches. The sampler concluded with his no-nonsense telegram to the police union: “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”

Monday, February 10, 2020

This is wonderful …

I had the great pleasure of talking with Harry a couple of times. Sweet man.

Our town …

… Rare Poe, Dickens: Tracking down the collection of George W. Childs. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Jerry Kelly on some of the all-time great type and book designers.


Surviving Tudor Houses...

...An interesting list

Amazing …

… Instapundit — The MSNBC anchor who knew too little …



Where do they find these people?

Making music …

… Poem of the week: The Cretan Lyre. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winner is …

… Announcing the 2020 Frost Medalist, Toi Derricotte. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

It is not the object described that matters, but the light that falls on it.
— Boris Pasternak, born on this date in 1890

The way things looked …

… More Interesting Old Photographs. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you wondered …

… Spring 2020′s best books: Hilary Mantel ends her trilogy, Elena Ferrante begins again. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The best so far …

… The Durable Art of Elizabeth Bishop | The Hudson Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Professor Travisano comes to the task as the author and editor of previous books on mid-century American poetry and the founding president of the Elizabeth Bishop Society. His book feels congenial, collegial and, except for a few minor stylistic lapses, gracefully written. Intimate knowledge of his subject remains respectful and never spills over into betrayal. Bishop emerges as someone frequently admirable, even loveable, not only the orphaned waif bearing the stresses of her awful childhood, but a woman who to a very great degree triumphed over adversity and made the best of any good fortune she had. She was a survivor. 

RIP …

… Mirella Freni, Matchless Italian Prima Donna, Dies at 84 - The New York Times. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Dickens …

… Miscellaneous Musings: Dickens on display.

London Underground...

...Architecture known and unknown

In memoriam …

For Someone Born on This Date in 1933

I still remember
Holding your hand for hours
The day you left us.

Hmm …

… Review: 'American Factory'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It's clear throughout that every Dayton native is making a genuine effort to be tolerant. In the promo video, Obama admits he expected otherwise, saying "they exhibited a lot more trust than I would have expected." The sole exception comes when one worker asks why Chinese propaganda has to be playing in the factory lunchroom at all hours.
The Chinese executives, by contrast, belittle, stereotype, and insult their American employees. We're treated to several Chinese-language training sessions in which executives inform managers what to expect from Americans. Americans, they say, are "slow," "overconfident," and hard to train because of their "fat fingers." In one session, a company VP compares his American workers to donkeys and says, matter-of-factly, "we're better than them."

Just so you know …

… Something in Deep Space Is Sending Signals to Earth in Steady 16-Day Cycles - VICE.

Beneath your feet …

… The Understory – Emergence Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Excerpted from his recently published book, Underland: A Deep Time Journey, “The Understory” is an examination of the life beneath the forest floor. Encountering the depth and complexity of communication that happens underground, Robert returns to the entangled mutualism at the root of language.


See also: Entangled Life.

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day 50 Years Ago I Enlisted In The U.S. Navy.

One master on another …

For the love of Larkin - spiked.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Comprising James’ articles written on Larkin from the 1970s onwards, Somewhere Becoming Rain is a bracing testament to James’ devotion to poetry and Larkin’s poetry in particular. There is also plenty of James’ characteristic hyperbole, swagger and wit to savour here.

Hmm …

… Amazon stops selling Hitler-defending author's book that says Jews play 'exceptionally active role in war' - The Jewish Chronicle. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

I do not approve of censorship, but I don’t think this rises to that. A retailer is free to sell whatever he wants. And these books seem both nutty and pernicious.

Not the Babylon Bee …

… University poll finds New Hampshire Democrats choose human extinction over Trump re-election | The College Fix.

God bless her …

… Twin Ports entertainer embraces 100th birthday | Superior Telegram. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.
— Fyodor Dostoevsky, who died on this date in 1881

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Blogging note …


Debbie’s sister and I will be heading over to the hospital shortly to visit Debbie. Blogging will resume later.

Anniversary …

from The Writer’s Almanac:

It's the birthday of poet Elizabeth Bishop, (books by this author) born in Worcester, Massachusetts (1911). She went to Vassar, where she really began her career as a poet. Her mentor was the poet Marianne Moore, who taught Bishop that she could write poems that weren't about big ideas like love or death but just about the observation of ordinary things.
Elizabeth Bishop was a slow, meticulous writer — she published just 101 poems during her lifetime.

(Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

Shown the door …

… When Dorothy Parker Got Fired from Vanity Fair – The Public Domain Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is in dispute which complaint held more weight, but either way, Nast passed the buck to Crowninshield, who met Parker at the Plaza and fired her from the job she had held for two years. Parker promptly ordered the most expensive dessert on the menu and left.

Indeed …

… A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Colosseum - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… only a few years ago, the task of Catholics in contemporary culture was to demonstrate – amid the clamor of scandal and bad news within the Church – that compared with the mild achievement and low horizons of contemporary secular culture, we could at least offer something better.  At this hour, it would be more accurate to say that Catholic writers and artists offer something real, something good, something beautiful, while our modern, secular Rome offers nothing at all, except savage vituperation and hot air.

More poetry and ice …

 (6) Maryann Corbett on Twitter: "My poem about last year's epic ice dam is just out in #AnglicanTheologicalReview. https://t.co/ZvbsFCEw0w" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Time for a chuckle …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: My Favorite Animal.

RIP …

… Actor-comedian Orson Bean, 91, hit and killed by car in LA.

Listen in …

… Poet Robert Hass at Heyday – on his new book, ecology, lost friends, and Czesław Miłosz. It’s all on Soundcloud! | The Book Haven.

Big chill …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Gray Tree (Piet Mondrian), Sonnet #497.

Something to think on …

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.
— John Ruskin, born on this date in 1819

Friday, February 07, 2020

RIP …

… Roger Kahn, Elegant 'Boys of Summer' Author, Dies at 92 - Truthdig. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Savoring a masterwork …

… Don’t Forget It, Jake, It’s Chinatown - Commentary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Chinatown is one of those movies made in so indissolubly collective a way as to make it impossible to ascribe principal creative credit to any one of its makers. A “masterpiece without a master,” Chinatown gives the lie to the “auteur” theory of film, which mistakenly contended that the director was always the primary creative force in studio-system movies.