Saturday, March 28, 2020

Be careful …

… Paul Davis On Crime: U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain Warns About Fraud Related To The Coronavirus Crisis And Provides Tips To The Public.

Bravo …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Real Superheroes During The COVID-19 Crisis.

Laughing in the dark …

… Laugh in the time of Corona: Favourite funny books.

See also: The 12 Funniest Exploration Books.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A golden age …

… Beyond Eastrod : American Bloomsbury Revisited.

Connections …

 [If every life is four-dimensional] —Justin Rigamonti | Zócalo Public Square. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Have a look …

… Top Shots: October 25, 2020 | National Review. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

On the bright side …

… Book sales surge as self-isolating readers buy ‘bucket list’ novels | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The old-fashioned way …

… Say “No” to Death’s Dominion | R. R. Reno | First Things.

 … the mass shutdown of society to fight the spread of COVID-19 creates a perverse, even demonic atmosphere. Governor Cuomo and other officials insist that death’s power must rule our actions. Religious leaders have accepted this decree, suspending the proclamation of the gospel and the distribution of the Bread of Life. They signal by their actions that they, too, accept death’s dominion.
“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
 — W. Shakespeare 
 

Q&A …

… Tucker Carlson: ‘We aren’t very good at talking about death’ | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… what bothered me, what enraged me, back in January was we had all these reports out of eastern China, out of Wuhan, that there was this kind of transformative thing happening. They shut down a city of 11 million people — bigger than New York. And they still couldn’t control it. And the obvious conclusion that anyone paying attention would draw is, if the most sophisticated authoritarian government in history can’t control the spread of this disease. And simultaneously, we have hourly capital-to-capital jet travel. Maybe this is something we should be paying attention to. I mean, with just that fact set alone, you could conclude we need to tell our viewers about this. And almost nobody did because they thought, you know, Trump was the most important thing. It’s really dereliction. When this is over. I really hope that we can learn something useful and corrective. I really do.

Strike up the band …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Dance of Life (Edvard Munch), Sonnet #504.

Very interesting …

… Frightened by Coronavirus, Many of U.K.’s Poles Are Heading Home - The New York Times.

Nor does Britain’s overstretched National Health Service inspire confidence, even if Britons sometimes seem to fret that foreigners exploit it. “Let’s be honest, it’s not fantastic,” said Mr. Bacdorf. “I used the National Health Service once and it was a terrible experience.” … “Paracetamol for everything — that’s my impression of what you get from the British health service,” he added, referring to the pain reliever Americans generally know as acetaminophen or Tylenol.

What we seem to know so far …

… Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted | NEJM. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.2

Something to think on …

I learned to read at the age of five, in Brother Justiniano's class at the De la Salle Academy in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is the most important thing that has ever happened to me. Almost seventy years later I remember clearly how the magic of translating the words in books into images enriched my life, breaking the barriers of time and space.
— Mario Vargas Llosa, born on this date in 1936

Friday, March 27, 2020

The king of the birds …

… Marly Youmans / The Palace at 2:00 a.m. / poems, stories, novels: Peacock-thoughts for a Pandemic Sunday. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Paintings or mosaic work with peacocks appears as early as the third century A. D. in Roman catacombs. Part of this seems to be bound to the earlier idea that the flesh of the bird does not decay and holds some sort of immortality; that thought becomes a symbol wandering into regions of eternal life and resurrection. Part must be bound to the idea of leaving the earthly body and receiving a glorified body and soul, for the peacock in his fully revealed green and bronze and cobalt pomp and magnificence is an image of radiance and splendor. This sumptuousness finds its culmination in the peacock as symbol of Christ, who did not decay in the tomb and is transfigured and glorified.
Is the hemlock tree ordinarily confused with the poison hemlock that killed Socrates?


Another blogging note …

I must go shopping for a bit. Will resume blogging sometime later.
I went to the Reading Terminal Market yesterday. Usually packed with people, it was virtually deserted. God willing, I didn't get infected with anything.

In case you wondered …

… Question for the coronavirus era: What’s the opposite of loneliness? It’s not company. | The Book Haven.



In an essay on “Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship,” [Hannah Arendt] argued such “being-with-oneself” is connected with the sustained practice of examining issues, weighing contradictory thoughts, making up one’s own mind. She observed that those who resisted the Nazi call had the habit and experience of daring to judge for themselves:
“The precondition for this kind of judging is not a highly developed intelligence or sophistication in moral matters, but rather the disposition to live together explicitly with oneself, to have intercourse with oneself, that is, to be engaged in that silent dialogue between me and myself which, since Socrates and Plato, we usually call thinking.”

One of the truly great singers …

… a ver good actor, too, one of only six actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance:

A tale for these days …

… Isolation – a short story by Teresa Waugh - The Oldie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Novelist Teresa Waugh tells the tale of an elderly lady, tormented by coronavirus-induced isolation.

Still working after all these years …

 Bob Dylan Releases 17-Minute Song About JFK Assassination – Variety. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One strategy …

… Beyond Eastrod : Moving on to somewhere beyond the stupidity.

Blogging note …

Got up later than usual today because of caregiving obligations. Will do a little blogging once i get my coffee.

Something to think on …

True religion should be able to respond to the dark melodies, the faulty and hideous sounds that echo from the heart of men.
— Shūsaku Endō, born on this date in 1923

Thursday, March 26, 2020

What we can learn from nature …

Beyond Eastrod : A Bird, came down the Walk.

It was bound to happen …

… Government Accidentally Shuts Itself Down With Ban On Non-Essential Businesses | The Babylon Bee.

Well, good …

… Professors Worry Their Bias Will Be Exposed by Online Classes.



It ought to be exposed. Teaching requires keeping them under wraps.

How gracious of them …

… A Letter from Our CEO | Kirkus Reviews. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

These are great …

… Three Epigrams from Richard Crashaw, Epigrammata Sacra by John Talbot | Articles | First Things.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Crashaw was a favorite poet of min when I was in college. I must read him again.

When the focus really is on survival …

 Beyond Eastrod : An unfathomable nightmare of medieval proportions.

Who was also a great writer …

… The Seminal Novel About the 1918 Flu Pandemic Was Written by a Texan – Texas Monthly (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pale Horse, Pale Rider’s enduring reputation perhaps stems from Porter’s willingness to look death in the face through a masterfully psychedelic fever sequence set in an overcrowded hospital. Writing for the New Yorker in 1944, the critic Edmund Wilson lauded Porter as “a first-rate artist,” with a literary project both sophisticated and subtle that “may be able, as in Pale Horse, Pale Rider, to assert itself only in the delirium that lights up at the edge of death.”

Kindred spirits in a time of heartbreak …

… Behind Their Lines: A quiet place apart. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have heard Edward doubt if he was as brave as the bravest. But who was ever so completely himself right up to the verge of destruction, so sure of his thought, so sure of his word? He was the bravest and best and dearest man you and I have ever known….

Here' s a thought …

…  Episode 871 Scott Adams: It's Time to Stop Using an Obama Afghanistan Strategy Against a Virus.
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Indeed …

… This is why everyone loathes Congress. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You could be forgiven … for imagining that this would be a perfect opportunity for the legislative branch to do all the things members of both parties are always saying they want to do: to "put politics aside" and "reach across the aisle" — feel free to insert more of your favorite clichés — in order to "get something done" on behalf of the American people.

Something to think on …

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
— Robert Frost, born on this date in 1874

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

How wonderful …

… Guess who I talked to today? | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A call to reason …

… Blind fear of death should not guide policy | Catholic Culture. (Hat tip, Rich Lloret.)

… certainly there are some things worth taking a risk for. As much as we admire bravery in the face of danger, we despise timidity. No doubt you would be safer if you spent your life cowering at home, but what could you accomplish? “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once,” Shakespeare tells us. To risk nothing is to accomplish nothing.

A very good idea …

… Learning Latin the Medieval Way ~ The Imaginative Conservative. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I would argue that Latin is the first victim of modernism, its decline analogous to the worst fears surrounding such educational reform as Common Core. The early modern period saw a break in tradition; the pedagogy of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance gave way to modern techniques and innovations, and for the past two centuries we have let our students wallow in the mire they created.


I have been brushing up on my Latin and German by means of Duolingo. It has certainly helped, since I can now understand both languages when I hear them. But i also just ordered a Latin-English Vulgate to further my study.

Why am I not surprised?

… Government Red Tape Delays the COVID-19 Response – Reason.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A few weeks ago, the government finally gave up its monopoly and said it was relaxing the rules. There would be quick "emergency use authorizations" replacing the months- or years-long wait for approval. But even that took so long that few independent tests were approved.
So President Donald Trump waived those rules, too.
Now tests are finally being made. But that delay killed people. It's still killing people.
Other needlessly repressive rules prevented doctors and hospitals from trying more efficient ways to treat patients.

Hmm …

… Hydroxychloroquine Showing Early Promise As Potential Treatment For Covid-19. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s no exaggeration to say that this drug changed my life—and in a dramatically positive way—after I was diagnosed with arthritis in my thirties. Today, I’m completely pain-free and symptom-free, and I no longer require medication of any sort. Yet here’s the strangest part of the story: none of my doctors wanted me to use hydroxychloroquine, the amazing drug that brought about these results. They viewed it as an old and outdated medicine. One rheumatologist tried to convince me to use a newer, more “high-tech” treatment. “You are using a wimpy drug, and arthritis isn’t a wimpy disease,” he said.

Burdened …

… A Poet a Day: Rita Dove – BillMoyers.com. (hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for 2020 February : IBPC. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



The Judge's Page.

Watch and pray …

… Morning Prayer 3/25/20 - St Albans Episcopal Church. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Exquisite portrait …

… Beyond Eastrod : Review — Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor.

Flannery O’Connor was born on this date in 1925.

Something to think on …

Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It's there, even when he can't see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon. It will keep you free  — not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects around you.
— Flannery O’Connor, born on this date in 1925

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

RIP …

… Playwright Terrence McNally, who wrote the musical Ragtime, has died from coronavirus. | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well worth watching …

Eileen is a friend of mine. I asked her if I could post this, and she gave permission.

A blog every Philadelphian should read …

 Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.



Because you're sure in hell not going to see any of this in The Inquirer. I certainly couldn't find anything about Starson Audate and Kimberly Paynter when I did a search.

Sounds timely …

… Beyond Eastrod : Review — Judas Unchained.

Throughout the complex novel, readers will find themselves wondering, 'Who can be trusted? Who can be believed?

Wonderful …

 Portrait of Girl with Comic Book - Independent.ie. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden, who notes that Phyllis McGinley would have turned 115 on March 21.)

Showcasing art during...

...This trying time

The Role of Art History...

...In the modern world

Another clip for these times …

Related: Don't Cancel Easter.
Of course, we must think about the elderly or those with preexisting conditions, who are at a much higher risk of succumbing to COVID-19. But the aged and infirm are automatically dispensed from their Sunday obligation if attending public worship would be hazardous to their health. The bishops could have simply reminded us of that provision.
I am 78. I would have attended Mass this past Sunday if our timorous archbishop had allowed it. If, as a result, I shuffled off my mortal coil in the days that followed, that would be God's will. Life does, after all, have a termination date.

Something to think on …

Future historians will surely see us as having created in the media a Frankenstein monster whom no one knows how to control or direct, and marvel that we should have so meekly subjected ourselves to its destructive and often malign influence.
— Malcolm Muggeridge, born on this date in 1903

Monday, March 23, 2020

A great enlightenment …

… The Virus is Not Invincible, But It’s Exposing Who’s Irreplaceable - American Greatness.

But who now is more important than the trucker who drives 12-hours straight to deliver toilet paper to Costco? Or the mid-level manager of Target who calibrates supply and demand and is on the phone all day juggling deliveries before his store opens? Or the checker at the local supermarket who knows that the hundreds of customers inches away from her pose risks of infection, and yet she ensures that people walk out with food in their carts? The farmworker who is on the tractor all night to ensure that millions of carrots and lettuce don’t rot? The muddy frackers in West Texas who make it possible that natural gas reaches the home of the quarantined broker in Houston? The ER nurse on her fifth coronavirus of the day who matter-of-factly saves lives?
Do we really need to ask such questions of whether the presence of the czar for diversity and inclusion at Yale is missed as much as the often-caricatured cop on patrol at 2 a.m. in New Haven?

Listen in …

… Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: HUP Director George Andeou on how to Read, Write, Edit & Publish.

FYI …

… Martin Amis to publish novel inspired by death of Christopher Hitchens | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

Sherlock Kant …

… Beyond Eastrod : Review — Critique of Criminal Reason 

Rather a sad tale …

… though not without a trace of hope: The Art of Dying | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull,)

Death is like painting rather than like sculpture, because it’s seen from only one side. Monochrome—like the mausoleum-gray former Berlin Wall, which kids in West Berlin glamorized with graffiti. What I’m trying to do here.

Much in what he says …

… PETER HITCHENS: Is shutting down Britain – with unprecedented curbs on ancient liberties – REALLY the best answer? - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The former editor of The Times, Sir Simon Jenkins, recently listed these unfulfilled scares: bird flu did not kill the predicted millions in 1997. In 1999 it was Mad Cow Disease and its human variant, vCJD, which was predicted to kill half a million. Fewer than 200 in fact died from it in the UK. 
The first Sars outbreak of 2003 was reported as having ‘a 25 per cent chance of killing tens of millions’ and being ‘worse than Aids’. In 2006, another bout of bird flu was declared ‘the first pandemic of the 21st Century’. 
There were similar warnings in 2009, that swine flu could kill 65,000. It did not. The Council of Europe described the hyping of the 2009 pandemic as ‘one of the great medical scandals of the century’. Well, we shall no doubt see. 

Not all if them have people with masks …

… Photos Of The Week #12. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

My heart goes out to the hippopotamus.

No kidding …

… China’s Smear of Mario Vargas Llosa an Attempt to Silence Criticism - PEN America. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Various observers—including PEN America’s CEO Suzanne Nossel—have concluded that the Chinese government’s efforts to tightly control the narrative around the virus has exacerbated the spread of the virus. In a column for Foreign Policy written earlier this month, Nossel wrote, “China and Iran stand out for muzzling doctors who tried to warn about the coronavirus, downplaying the number of cases and deaths as the epidemic progressed, and inflating the success of their containment efforts. The predictable result was that the virus spread more quickly and widely than if these governments had been forthright from the start.”

Increasing cause for optimism …

… “Inspire us to be brave” | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fact checking …

… 'Hitler's Pope'? Not So Fast - Crisis Magazine.
We are talking about 16 million pages of uncatalogued documents in a few scores of crates. Reportedly, there are copious lists of records attesting to the papal aid to Jewish people all over Europe. From producing fake baptismal certificates and false passports to undertaking numerous clandestine interventions and setting up hiding places as well as running a robust underground railroad for the fugitives, Rome and the Holy Father did what they thought was the maximum for the suffering multitudes.

Curious …

 'The Two Stories' - An unpublished vignette by W. Somerset Maugham. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Could it be?

… Is The Media Ignoring Good News On Coronavirus? – Issues & Insights.

To be sure, the recent trend data might just be a blip, and these two studies involve relatively small sample sizes and come with lots of caveats. We’re not saying the COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.
But these recent developments do raise a question. Will the news media report good news as aggressively as they’ve been reporting the bad?


See also: If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media.

 Fear-based news programming has two aims. The first is to grab the viewer's attention. In the news media, this is called the teaser. The second aim is to persuade the viewer that the solution for reducing the identified fear will be in the news story. If a teaser asks, "What's in your tap water that YOU need to know about?" a viewer will likely tune in to get the up-to-date information to ensure safety.

Or even through the week …

 Poetry Videos to Get You Through the Weekend | North of Oxford.

Have a look …

… The Lockdown Diaries 2020 | Flickr. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The main question …

… Yes It’s Poetry, But Is It Good? | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is not to say that the author is uninterested in what a poet may have to say about politics, just that when the poet does so he does not thereby qualify for any special indulgence from what it means to be narrative, to be musical, in ways that communicate the virtue upon which the poet focuses.

Something to think on …

Man can only become what he is able to consciously imagine, or to 'image forth'.
— Dane Rudhyar, born on this date in 1895

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Can’t we get along?

… What is the “Goal” of COVID-19? Evolutionary Medicine and Pandemics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Really good news …

… Better and better (updated) | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Love in the Time of Corona

You heard it here: this will become a theme, a motif, a chorus.

Hmm …

… The luxury of apocalypticism - spiked.
From AIDS to climate change, from swine flu to Covid-19, it has been one apocalyptic scenario after another. The irony is that the elites who readily envisage catastrophe think they are showing how seriously they take genuine social and medical challenges, such as Covid-19. In truth, they demonstrate the opposite. They confirm that they have absolved themselves of the reason and focus required for confronting threats to our society. It isn’t their apocalypticism that captures the human urge to solve genuine problems – it is our anti-apocalypticism, our calmness, our insistence that resources and attention be devoted to genuine challenges without disrupting people’s lives or the economic health of our societies.
What I don't understand is why they don't see this as Almghty Evolution acting to bring about what they so often seem to want — the end of humanity.

Fabulous figures …

… and great Americans: In spring, Duluth is bald eagle capital of the world | Duluth News Tribune. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

People of faith then …

… Quarantines have a long history in Italy, as Mark Twain found out.



Well, here in Philly, the newly installed archbishop has suspended the celebration of Mass. God forbid we get contaminated by a consecrated host. What a heroic affirmation of faith. I wonder if he'll close shop again during the next flu season.

Something to think on …

Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who died on this date in 1832

Saturday, March 21, 2020

So good to know …

… 48% of Voters Believe Media Overhyped Coronavirus | Newsmax.com.



Nice that nearly half of us still have common sense. Nice also that a good many people are starting to see through these fifth-rate gas bags calling themselves journalists.

Amazing …

… Miraculous: Clump Of Cells Transforms Into Fully Formed Baby Upon Womb Exit | The Babylon Bee.

Ah, yes …

… Beyond Eastrod : Darkness settles on roofs and walls ...

Good news …

… Better and better | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A message via Wuhan …

… Malcolm Guite: Poet’s Corner. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My correspondent, a Christian teaching in the International School in Wuhan, had suddenly found herself, willy-nilly, walled in, and, even within the city walls, further enclosed in her own room, looking out through a window, receiving food through a hatch. What could she do but read and pray?

Sad relics …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Brushwood School House, Sonnet #503.

Something to think on …

God is an unutterable sigh, planted in the depths of the soul.
— Jean Paul, born on this date in 1763

Friday, March 20, 2020

Happy birthday!

Dame Vera Lynn turned 103 today.

Begging to differ …

… Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown - WSJ.

If GDP seems abstract, consider the human cost. Think about the entrepreneur who has invested his life in his Memphis ribs joint only to see his customers vanish in a week. Or the retail chain of 30 stores that employs hundreds but sees no sales and must shut its doors.
Or the recent graduate with $20,000 in student-loan debt—taken on with the encouragement of politicians—who finds herself laid off from her first job. Perhaps she can return home and live with her parents, but what if they’re laid off too? How do you measure the human cost of these crushed dreams, lives upended, or mental-health damage that result from the orders of federal and state governments?r


See also: Questioning the Shutdown | R. R. Reno. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Earlier generations understood that institutions anchor our lives. That’s why German children went to school throughout World War II, even when their cities were being reduced to rubble. That’s why Boy Scouts conducted activities during the Spanish flu pandemic and churches were open. We’ve lost this wisdom. In this time of crisis, when our need for these anchors is all the greater, our leaders have deliberately atomized millions of people. 

Sage observation …


“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

— H. L. Mencken

Experts …

… Beyond Eastrod : This plague is caused by a conjunction of the planets.



Of course, as Aquinas noted, “Locus ab auctoritate est infirmissimus“ — the argument from authority is the weakest.


Worth considering …

… In the coronavirus pandemic, we're making decisions without reliable data.

Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data — there were just seven deaths among the 700 infected passengers and crew — the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). It is also possible that some of the passengers who were infected might die later, and that tourists may have different frequencies of chronic diseases — a risk factor for worse outcomes with SARS-CoV-2 infection — than the general population. Adding these extra sources of uncertainty, reasonable estimates for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary from 0.05% to 1%.

Yes …

… Getting busy living | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But keep on praying, folks.

Something to think on …

The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.
— Henrik Ibsen, born on this date in 1821

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Just so you know …

… God To Ignore Quarantine And Continue Being Everywhere | The Babylon Bee. (Hat tip, Felix Giordano.)

Go to the dogs …

… First Known When Lost: A Thought In Passing.

Blogging note …

I have been very much taken up with caregiving today. Blogging has had to take a back seat.

The poet as critic …

… T. S. Eliot’s animus by Adam Kirsch | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The poet-critic has been an institution in English literature because usually only an artist has the stubborn animus, the conviction that art should be one way rather than another, that makes for interesting criticism. To write something new is to imply that the writing which already exists is insufficient. Of course, this can never be demonstrably true: there is always already more than enough literature to occupy any reader for a lifetime. Only an artist’s egotism, his certainty that he has something new to offer that the world should not be without, gives him the fruitfully skewed perspective on literature required to see it as deficient. Harold Bloom’s theory of “the anxiety of influence” gave formal statement to this agonistic element in all artistic ambition. “To imagine is to misinterpret,” Bloom writes, which means, among other things, to misinterpret all existing poetry to its own detriment in order to make room for something new

Haiku …


The first day of spring,
Forecast is cloudy with rain.
Plants don’t seem to mind.

FYI …

… Global Covid-19 Case Fatality Rates - CEBM.

The perfect clip for these days …

Anniversary …

… Beyond Eastrod : Philip Roth’s 100-year moratorium on literature talk.

What’s the difference between writing about it and talking about it? Writing about what people seems a logical enough progression to me. But I don’t think Roth was ever long on logic.

Hmm …

… Merkel calls coronavirus 'biggest challenge since WWII'.

Well, we all know how Germany met that challenge.

The importance of what we don't know …

… In the coronavirus pandemic, we're making decisions without reliable data. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data — there were just seven deaths among the 700 infected passengers and crew — the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). It is also possible that some of the passengers who were infected might die later, and that tourists may have different frequencies of chronic diseases — a risk factor for worse outcomes with SARS-CoV-2 infection — than the general population. Adding these extra sources of uncertainty, reasonable estimates for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary from 0.05% to 1%.


Remember those known unknowns and unknown unknowns of some years back? I don't think many people study epistemology these days.

Something to think on …

One cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of a swallow.
— Richard Francis Burton, born on this date in 1821

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

This has gone too far …

… Deerfield Testicle Festival on hold - News - The Daily Telegram - Adrian, MI - Adrian, MI.

When people can’t sit around and eat some nuts, something is wrong.

Beats Covid-19 …

… Beyond Eastrod : Deliberately facing that awful stranger — consciousness.

Amen, brother …

… Keep the Churches Open! | R. R. Reno | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… I am demoralized by the Catholic Church’s response to what Ephraim Radner calls “the Time of the Virus.” Those of us who live in densely populated areas are aware of the intense anxiety and fear that has become pervasive. The massive shutdown of just about everything reflects the spirit of our age, which regards the prospect of death as the supreme evil to be avoided at all costs. St. Paul observed that Christ came to free us from our bondage to sin and death. This does not mean we will not sin or die. It means that we need not live in fear. 

I'm with Vargas-Llosa on this …

… Beyond Eastrod : Don’t blame China! Really?

In case you wondered …

… Top 10 books about boarding school | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I didn't attend boarding school, and I have read only one of these — Decline and Fall — and for some reason never thought of that as being primarily about boarding school. I just thought it was very funny. So, when Brideshead Revisited was on the list of novels I was supposed to read over the summer for a course that fall in the modern novel, that was the first one I chose to read, since I figured it would be funny as hell. I still remember pausing after reading for maybe 45 minutes or so and saying out loud to myself, "This is the saddest book I have ever read." It also turned out to be one of the greatest.

Well, Facebook …

… Facebook Censorship: “Violating Community Standards” – Reluctant Habits.

But in all seriousness, this draconian assault on basic information sharing is a calumny against free expression and the abundant need to be honest about the place we’re now heading in. If Zuckerberg has decided to withhold information — especially information that was put together by bona-fide journalists who perform their work with objective standards — then this is, in fact, disastrous to discourse and catastrophic to understanding how the terrible flu is spreading. At the present time, it is essential for us to have the floodgates open. And since 2.5 billion people are now on Facebook trying to make sense of a terrible pandemic, then it seems condign to let them vent in any way they need to.

FYI: Facebook blames bug for coronavirus spam issue. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… This from last month: Flu Season That's Sickened 26 Million May Be at Its Peak | Health News | US News.



By way of comparison:



Ebola  -— 11,300 deaths



SARS — 774 deaths



H1N1 Flu — more than 284,000 deaths


Covid-19 deaths worldwide — 8,246



Flu deaths this flu season in U.S. between 22,000 and 53,000



Annual death rate worldwide from flu 646,000


Something to think on …

Utopias now appear much more realizable than one used to think. We are now faced with a different new worry: How to prevent their realization.
— Nikolai Berdyaev, born on this date in 1874

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

From someone who knows …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At Polio: The Disease That Paralyzed America And How We Defeated It.

Well, there’s that …

… Beyond Eastrod : Time enough to read.

Keep on praying …

… We’ll be together again | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… Beyond Eastrod : If Emily Dickinson had a blog ...

Hmm …

… Diamond Princess Mysteries | Watts Up With That?

In addition to the low rate of disease incidence (83% didn’t get it), the curious part of Figure 2 for me is that there’s not a whole lot of difference between young and old passengers in terms of how many didn’t get coronavirus. For example, sixty to sixty-nine-year-old passengers stayed healthier than teenagers. And three-quarters of the oldest group, those over eighty, didn’t get the virus. Go figure. Buncha virus resistant old geezers, I guess …

FYI …

… Symptoms of Coronavirus vs. the Flu vs. a Cold | Elemental.

Blogging note …

I won't be blogging again until this afternoon, when I get back from shopping in town.

Something to think on …

The past is our ultimate privacy; we pile it up, year by year, decade by decade, it stows itself away, with its perverse random recall system.
—Penelope Lively, born on this date in 1933

Monday, March 16, 2020

While we are all asked to be shut-ins …

 Beyond Eastrod : Poetry and quarantine on the home front.

Me? I'll be out and about as usual. Tomorrow, bright and early, I'll be at the Reading Terminal Market. Should be plenty of chances for infection there. And I'm 78. Of course, I've also been told by the head of family medicine at a university hospital who checked my records that I'm in really good health, and not just for someone my age. But, as Jim Morrison once reminded us, nobody gets out of here alive. But given what the state of the world is likely to be after this establishment power grab, there may not be much left to live for.

Thinking of Covid-19 …

I fear he is right on both counts

… Bruce Charlton's Notions: Don't blame the crows! It's Not About the birdemic!



…  Church leaders tell Western Christians - "You're on your own!"



Though we are not quite on our own. There is God.

The uses of poetry …

… In a time of crisis, poetry can help focus our fears and transform ‘noise into music’ - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Still, I would guess that most of us turn to far more sentimental verse when confronting adversity or seeking comfort. Kipling is much derided, but his oft-quoted poem “If” has inspired generations with its tribute to character and endurance, to the will to “watch the things you gave your life to broken” and then to build them up again “with wornout tools.” 
Very little poetry of a political nature has any appeal for me. Kenneth Patchen can pull it off, probably because his usually has a humorous edge). Politics is so unpoetic.

Mutability …

… First Known When Lost: Ephemeral.

Marcus Aurelius has wise words for us:  "How ridiculous, and like a stranger is he, who is surprised at any thing which happens in life!" (Marcus Aurelius (translated by Francis Hutcheson and James Moor), Meditations, Book XII, Section 13.)  Spring is here.  But not for long.  Anything is possible.

Signs and portents …

… Eh? column: Stolen sign returned, the seagull returns and some toilet paper news | Duluth News Tribune. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The way things are …

 Perilous Directions by Gregory Wolfe | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Original Prin is concerned with the phenomenon raised by a line from G. K. Chesterton, often misquoted as follows: “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.” What ­Chesterton actually wrote is even more provocative. In one of the Father Brown stories, the priest-sleuth notes that one dire result of unbelief is not the rise of reason but the proliferation of superstition: “It’s drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition. . . . It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can’t see things as they are.”

From the time when television was a vast wasteland …

… ArtsJournal: Daily arts news | Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City.

Beats today's media …

… Beyond Eastrod : Reading some news worth reading.

Something to think on …

The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it's so rare.
— Daniel Patrick Moynihan, born on this date in 1927

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Even more wonderful …

… Miracle: Coronavirus Passes Over Houses With Chick-Fil-A Sauce Smeared On Door Posts | The Babylon Bee.

How about that …

… Nation's Nerds Wake Up In Utopia Where Everyone Stays Inside, Sports Are Canceled, Social Interaction Forbidden | The Babylon Bee. (Hat tip, Rich Lloret.)

Words of wisdom …

Well, you know I agree …

… Whether the Wuhan Virus Is a ‘Crisis’ or a Crisis.

Precautions are one thing, a good thing. Panic is another thing, and a bad one. By all means, wash your hands, be careful when coughing or sneezing, take reasonable precautions. But what we are witnessing now is an access of irrational hysteria whose end is less safety than sanctimoniousness.

Very nice …

… Poem of the week: The Idler by Alice Dunbar Nelson | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I did not know of Alice Dunbar Nelson, but I will be looking into her work now.

Much in what he says …

… Message to the Young: Beware the Groove | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hugh Hefner started publishing installments of his Playboy Philosophy while I was still in college. That was a Jesuit college. But that didn’t the editor of the college newspaper (yours truly) and a classmate (the vice president of student council) from holding a public sent minar about it. That it proved influential can hardly be denied. Whether it rubbed elbows with truth is another question altogether. I had quite a few courses in real philosophy.

As I have wondered …

… Compared to what? by Heather Mac Donald | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Rather than indiscriminately shutting down public events and travel, we should target prevention where it is most needed: in nursing homes and hospitals.



March Poetry at North of Oxford …

… From The Poetry Editor.

… Two Poems from Rustin Larson.

… Gypsy by Wesley McMasters.

… Two Poems from Thaddeus Rutkowski.

… Two Poems from Howie Good.

Good to read these anytime …

… Beyond Eastrod : 9 books that might help you during the pandemic.

Just wondering …

According to Statista.com, there have been 4,592 deaths from Covid-19 worldwide as of March 12.
According to the CDC, between Oct. 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020, between 22,000 and 53,000 died of the flu in this country.
According to Medicine.Net the flu kills between 291,000 and 646,000 annually worldwide.
These numbers do not seem to me to warrant the scare headlines and extreme measures being taken regarding Covid-19.
Am I missing something? If so, what?
I am old enough to remember when public swimming pools were shut during the years before the polio vaccine came along.

Something to think on …

Existence in itself, taken at its least miraculous, is a miracle.
— Rebecca West, who died on this date in 1983

Saturday, March 14, 2020

A love story …

… Learning Latin by Joseph Epstein | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The love of Latin in my case is in good part love for the precision of the language. One cannot guess at the meanings of Latin words, but must know their meanings by their inflections, tenses, genders. The virtue of Latin being a dead language is that the meanings of its words do not change in the way that words in contemporary languages do. No Roman, after all, ever said that at the end of the day he was weaponizing multiple existential threats to ensure a level playing field.
I had three years of Latin high school, and one in college (or was it two?). I passed the tests, but never mastered the language. Lately I have been using Duolingo to get reacquainted with it.

FYI …

… One Epidemic Is Killing Far More Than COVID-19 - Headline Health.

Early celebrity …

… Beyond Eastrod : That backward walking chicken marked her for life.

Today’s media …

… Inky's Fired 'Token Conservative' Says Paper Was Clueless | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

(Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Of course, they will continue to inflict on their readers the moronic rantings of Will Bunch, who, if he ever has another idea besides the two or three currently lodged in what passes for his mind, will probably reach for an Excedrin,

Horse vs. man …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Unbridled Folly (Francisco Goya), Sonnet #502.

Something to think on …

Don't listen to the person who has the answers; listen to the person who has the questions.
— Albert Einstein, born on this date in 1879

On the other hand …

… this young bears watching — and listening to: A Girl Makes Music Without Irony or Ugliness - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

… Charles Wuorinen, modernist composer without compromise, dies at 81. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I don’t remember thinking much of his music, but I’ll give it another listen.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Today’s media …

… Instapundit: PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS —  Blog Archive.

Richard Hughes


In general, I don't tend to gravitate to novels about children: there's something about those books which feels out of reach or distant. This was the case, again, with A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes's curious novel about a group of children captured -- and later released -- by pirates off the coast of Cuba. 

This really is an odd novel: there's brutality and crime, but at the same time, there's tenderness and naivety. I suspect that was Hughes's goal: to contrast youth with age, innocence with corruption. For me, these contrasts did not necessarily warrant pirates or rum. In fact, some of this novel -- which has been celebrated since its publication in 1929 -- seemed almost nonsensical: these captive children would never have survived as they did if it weren't for their, well, credulity. 

And again, maybe this was Hughes's point: that innocence is a surprisingly powerful force, and that children can accommodate almost any circumstance. I acknowledge this argument, and concede there are moments in the novel which effectively highlight that unexpected power. But in the end, this seemed more an idea than the basis for an extended work of fiction. For me, the divergence between youth and age was too jarring to be believable: and the result were interactions between toddlers and pirates which didn't fully fit. 

Good news …

… Music, awake! | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is simply awful …

… Iran: Shocking 33-year prison term and 148 lashes for women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh | Amnesty International. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winners are …

 The National Book Critics Circle Award – National Book Critics Circle. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In brief …

… Where Have All the Great Aphorists Gone? | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Auden and Kronenberger close their foreword by noting that their field of selection was restricted to “writers belonging to what, for lack of a better term, is called Western civilization.” Doubtless today some half-educated scold would wag a condescending finger at Auden for that last phrase, “Western civilization,” albeit with little sense of what it means. The concept, and even the words, are quickly coming under the ban.
But Auden, who knew more and understood better than our contemporary doyens of labored and puerile outrage, has, along with his co-author, a word in season on this topic, too. We might note the qualification already given: “for lack of a better term.” Yes, the term is imprecise. Yes, it is open to misunderstanding. No, we do not have a better one.

Worth noting …

… Bruce Charlton's Notions: Birdemic bleg.

Bruce Charlton is a physician and has been a professor of medicine.
I would note that, according to the CDC, between October 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020, there have been between 22,000 – 55,000 flu deaths in this country. Please take note of the range. Hardly what I would call precise. When Will Rogers said that "All I know is what I read in the newspapers," he was joking. Now, though, many people seem to have an evangelical faith in what the media tells them. To its credit, CNBC has reported that there are now two strains of COVID-19, the newer one being less aggressive than the first, whose frequency has decreased since January. But I haven't seen much made of this.
Anyway, color me skeptical (which is what journalists are supposed to be, though many of today's seem selectively credulous to me).

Blogging note (not mine) …

… Beyond Eastrod : I must resume traveling beyond Eastrod.

For your listening pleasure …

… Bruce Charlton's Notions: Vashti Bunyan sings.



She escaped me too at the time. Lovely voice. And lovely.

Something to think on …

Happiness comes, I know, from some spring within a man — from some curious adjustment to life.
— Hugh Walpole, born on this date in 1884

Thursday, March 12, 2020

My sentiments exactly …

… Bruce Charlton's Notions: How dangerous are ravens? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We are So Extremely Far Away - a thousand fold? - from anything significant in terms of global deaths over this many weeks, that the international health crisis is revealed as fake. However, a fake crisis is better - from an Establishment perspective - than a real one; as it can be controlled. Indeed, from the mass media attitude; the decision to make the most of Corvid-19 seems only to have been made in the past couple of weeks, when it became clear that it was not a major global danger.  

 … Corvid-19. (Also from Dave.)

Appreciation …

… A look back at Sidney Lumet's great cop films - Washington Times.

The cop film quartet covered corrupt cops in New York City, and although I felt the films gave the unfair impression that all New York cops were corrupt, I enjoyed the gritty and otherwise realistic films, two of which — “Serpico” and “Prince of the City” — were based on true stories.

Hmm …

… Keep It Simple by Edward Feser | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Having spent a couple of years studying scholastic philosophy, which is grounded in Aquinas’s Summa, I found myself wondering while reading this how anyone who considers himself a theist would think as Craig does, because I am of course trained to think of God in terms of his simplicity. Mathematics is true because it reflects the mind of God, as is anything else that is true.

One woman’s life …

… Beyond Eastrod : I'm considering building a bridge ...

The many sides of funny …

… Review: “The Funny Side – 101 Humorous Poems” ed. Wendy Cope | Form in Formless Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

The most ingenious men are now agreed, that [universities] are only nurseries of prejudice, corruption, barbarism, and pedantry.
— George Berkeley, born on this date in 1685

Blogging note …

I have to head into Center City early today, but should be back by early afternoon, when I will catch up with blogging. 

FYI …

… 5 Facts About James McNeill Whistler, Who Believed in "Art for Art's Sake". (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Only the first was new to me, but they’re all interesting.

I think I know what she’s getting at …

… (7) Maryann Corbett on Twitter: "As I said at the @EcotoneMagazine panel last Thursday, I write sonnets when I'm angry. This one's in the new @PotomacReview. https://t.co/teehaFuWeb" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

… The remarkable Martha Treichler | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

… The remarkable Martha Treichler | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

… The remarkable Martha Treichler | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Mark thy caledar …


Inkwood Books, 31 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ

The view from down under …

… Sky News Host Marvels At Joe Biden Gaffe Montage: "Not Enough Popcorn In The World" For Biden-Trump Debate | Video | RealClearPolitics.

Taking your problems in hand …

… Masturbation can boost your immune system and help it thrive - Big Think.

Off we go …

… Beyond Eastrod : Mars exploration and other fun in outer space.

Tracking the decline …

… Books About Next to Nothing | John Waters | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The art of writing, too, has undergone a metamorphosis. Once a way to engage with reality, it has become primarily a status-seeking activity. The idea of “being a writer” nowadays seems more important than learning a craft, perfecting a talent, or honing a worldview. The wannabe writer now offers himself to the ideological architects of the media and academe, providing fodder for their deterministic interventions in a discourse increasingly more about remaking the world than investigating it.
I’m not familiar with the work of  Laszlo Krasznahorkai or George Saunders, but I have read Michel Houellebecq and I agree with what Waters says about him. I would also cite Tan Twan Eng’s novels as being as good as novels have ever been.
Here (again thanks to Dave) is my review of Tan Twan Eng's The Gift of Rain: The intricacies of love ensnarled by loyalty, war.