Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A classic review …

… When C.S. Lewis Reviewed His Buddy’s Book… The Hobbit. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A mystery of locks …

The Curious Case of a Great Poet’s Hair.

Creative editing …

 … Stevie Smith changes a line. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… The American Pageant: Who "invented" the TV dinner?

Hmm …

… Walking the Delicate Line Between Reporter and Activist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think one should decide which it is one wants to be — a reporter or an activist. 
News is news. Opinion is opinion. Most papers have sections for both. The twain should never meet.

Something to think on …

There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen, born on this date in 1934

Word of the Day …

… Buttle | Word Genius.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Vast learning and peacocks …

Letters reveal depths of Flannery’s faith and friendships.

Grim annoevrsary …

… 20 September 1565 — French massacred in N. America.

A great farewell …

… Boston Bids Adieu - BallNine.

Dealing with the daily distractions …

… First Known When Lost: No, Thank You.

 As always, one should attend to one's soul.  Where does one start?  Best to return to the solitary maple tree in the clearing among the pines. Everything begins and ends with a single beautiful particular.

Disappointing …

… The Egotistic Mind | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… just as Saad gains some momentum in his sixth chapter, the next chapter, “How to Seek Truth: Nomological Networks of Cumulative Evidence,” is an enormous letdown. In it, he shoehorns so much of his research on sexual differences and Islamic extremism, proving that that men and women are different and that Islam lends itself to violence. Somehow, Saad believes that using evidence across disciplines will do the trick of convincing the other side, as though no one else has tried this already.

Anniversary …

… Miscellaneous Musings / Books: Remembering Upton Sinclair and The Jungle.

Something to think on …

All poetry has to do is to make a strong communication. All the poet has to do is listen. The poet is not an important fellow. There will also be another poet.
— Stevie Smith, born on this date in 1902

Word of the Day …

… Gemütlich | Word Genius.

The pronunciation given is wrong. The u has an umlaut. It’s more like gemeetlich.

That’s for sure …

Edward Gannon, SJ (one of the good guys).

I just came upon this while doing an internet search. At what was then St. Joseph’s College, Father Gannon was one of my philosophy professors. He was also my confessor. And my mentor. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Off to Sicily with Andrea Camilleri …

Miscellaneous Musings / Books: A tour through Inspector Salvo Montalbano's Sicily and the life and works of an Italian mystery icon.

Interesting …

… Quantum Physics, Eastern Spirituality, and Christianity | by Graham Pemberton | Sep, 2021 | Medium

If memory serves, Werner Heisenberg was practicing Lutheran

Hmm …

For Constitution Day, Let's Toast the Losers of the Convention | History News Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On Constitution Day, I say drink a toast to the losers. After all, some of them agitated for a Bill of Rights, a proposal that was rejected by the framers in September of 1787. Let us study their criticisms of our imperfect system. Imagine what might have been and what might be as the republic suffers in a realm of political dysfunction caused in no small part by our odd framework of government.

In Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, the notion is advanced that conclusion arrived at by means of a counterfactual proposition is always correct precisely because the premise is false. If that had not happened, then … whatever.



Not a good idea …

… “Brideshead Regained” Again. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I cannot imagine what would prompt anyone to enter into competition with Evelyn Waugh.

Mystery in the mountains …

… Miscellaneous Musings: Books: Mysteries set in the high country of the American West.

From today’s newspaper of record …

… Trump Wows Met Gala Crowd In 'Rigged Election' Dress | The Babylon Bee.

Something to think on …

I am astonished at the ease with which uninformed persons come to a settled, a passionate opinion when they have no grounds for judgment.
— William Golding, born on this date in 1912

Word of the Day …

… Rimple | Word Genius.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The new ‘journalism’ …

Ralph Nader: What Gives With Newspapers’ Graphic Artists? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Where Sam Clemens became Mark Twain …

… Mark Twain’s San Francisco.

In case you wondered …

… How the Bible Means | Comment Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Mullins argues that we need to train young readers to recover the pleasurable delight in encountering the subtleties of language, the repetition, the imagery, the narrative arc . . . the literariness of Scripture. This is not just a better form of reading, but a way of loving communion with the God who breathes and inspires the truth in his authoritative Scripture. Good reading is a full-bodied encounter.

Open for submissions …

… About | North of Oxford.

The pyramid and circle of the mind …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Altarpiece No. 1 (Hilma af Klint), Sonnet #579.

Something to think on …

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
— Samuel Johnson, born on this date in 1709

Heartbreaking …

Gutting the House. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fascinating …

… Photographing the Microscopic: Winners of Nikon Small World 2021 - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The new racism …

Woke English Opera Fires 14 White Musicians for Having Wrong Skin Color.

A writer’s adventures …

… The American Pageant: Aloha, Mark Twain!

Q&A …

… An Interview With Leading Poet and Petrarch Translator A.M. Juster. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In college I wrote the poetry that Big Poetry was promoting, but eventually found it unsatisfying and stopped writing poetry altogether for about a decade. In my 30s, I realized that I could write the kind of poetry I loved rather than the poetry that others wanted me to love, so that’s what I set out to do.

Word of the Day …

… Avidity | Word Genius.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Well, I guess so …

Winning the Game You Didn’t Even Want to Play: On Sally Rooney and the Literature of the Pose.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’m not really familiar with a lot of the writers mentioned (though I did review Martin Amis’s Koba the Dread and House of Meetings) so I don’t really get a lot of it and don’t much care.

How about honoring the one we already have …

… The American Pageant: We the people formed a government on 17 September 1787, and now might be the right time to form a better one.

Anniversary …

… The American Pageant: A poem is a complete little universe.

Something to think on …

The job of the poet is to use language effectively, his own language, the only language which is to him authentic.
— William Carlos Williams, born on this date in 1883

Not this, not that …

Lao Tzu’s negative theology. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There is paradox here, but no contradiction.  What Lao Tzu is telling us is that while of course the Tao can be named or spoken of in onesense – that’s the point of saying what we’ve so far heard him say, after all – what we are speaking about is something that ultimately cannot adequately be captured in language, because it is so radically unlike the temporary, changing, differentiated, dependent things of our experience.  In that sense it is nameless.  The best we can do is to suggest the ways in which it is not like the things of our experience – it is not temporary, not changing, not differentiated, not dependent, and so on.

It is perhaps worth taking note of the Chinese translation of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God.” Regarding anthropomorphism, it seems to me that the Incarnation is as anthropomorphic as it gets.

Profile of a lowlife …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Stolen Valor: My Philadelphia Weekly Crime Beat Column On A Fake Navy SEAL Who Stole From The VA.

Word of the Day …

Scumble | Word Genius.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

RIP …

Jane Powell has died at 92 … actress appeared in musical classics such as Royal Wedding and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Our town …

… A walk through the city - George Hunka. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A walk through Philadelphia’s streets and alleys exposes the walker to an art, history, and domesticity that validates the walker as an individual, with individual quirks, histories, and significance himself. Apart from Center City, little of Philadelphia rises above four or five stories high. As Bourdain’s visit and my own experience prove, that ground-level appeal is consequently not limited to the city’s architectural features. The Mural Art Project and Isaiah Zagar’s colorful mosaics can be experienced throughout the 142 square miles of the city limits, stopping the solitary walker in his tracks. It is a rare route through the city that fails to traverse cobblestone streets and two-century-old buildings that remind the walker of the city’s and the nation’s history. And the longer one stays in the city, the more frequently one comes across ghostly reminiscences of their own history: after drinks at Dirty Frank’s and visits to Independence Park, the walker begins to see the city as a mirror of their own experience, as an individual, as a Philadelphian, as an American. One senses one’s own paradoxically ghostly permanence as the city itself curates its own history.

This is a really fine piece, and I say that who has walked all over the place. (I feel obliged to mention, though, that Frank Rizzo’s black bodyguards thought the world of him.)


In case you wondered …

… The American Pageant: Why did those religious radicals come to North America?

Appreciation …

Belfast’s best-kept secret. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Moore retains the tart flavour of a well-kept secret. He is not under-rated exactly, nor does he merit the backhanded compliment “writer’s writer” (unless the writer in question is Graham Greene, who called Moore his favourite living novelist). He is, rather, under-read and certainly under-kept-in-print: only about a third of his 20 novels are easy to find at any time. Luckily, enterprising publisher Turnpike Books is marking his centenary this month by reissuing three of his longest-unavailable novels, including one of his best.

Memory and time …

… a book review by Elissa Greenwald: Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory: Bookmarked. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Birkerts’ close reading of Nabokov teases out patterns from the dense and meditative prose of the older writer’s work. The opening section deals with the nature of time, showing how Nabokov embeds future moments in early ones. In particular, his nostalgic recollections of childhood innocence foreshadow later events which will disrupt it, such as his father’s sudden death. Brief intimations of later moments in elaborately described early experiences suggest the malleability of time as held in memory.

Blake and Dante …

… William Blake's 102 Illustrations of The Divine Comedy Collected in a Beautiful Book from Taschen | Open Culture. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Blake did not read the Divine Comedy as a medieval Catholic believer but as a visionary 18th and 19th century English artist and poet who invented his own religion. He “taught himself Italian in order to be able to read the original” and had a “ complex relationship” with the text, writes Dante scholar Silvia De Santis.

Something to think on …

At a certain stage in his evolution, man himself had been able to lay hold upon a higher order of things, which raised him above the level of the beasts that perish, and enabled him to see, at least in the distance, the shining towers of the City of God.
— Alfred Noyes, born on this date in 1880

Word of the Day …

… Immanent | Word Genius.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hmm …

… American Character(s), British Lingo, II. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’ve learned after all these years that the differences between American and British language are very many and often very subtle, and thus it’s extremely difficult for an American to provide 100% convincing dialogue for a Brit, and vice versa. Klara and the Sun proves the point.

Maybe I’ve read too many books by Brits, but some of these sound to me  as much American as British. I use clever and others have even used it of me. Certainly Americans sometimes give it a go. But the point is well taken. If I ever wrote a novel, I would make sure all the characters were American. I’d also be careful about regional characters.

 

Sleeping around …

… The American Pageant: George Washington slept here, there, and down the road.

The bishop and the comedian …

… Death on a Wednesday: John Shelby Spong and Norm McDonald | Anne Kennedy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

You might think that after thousands of years of coming up too soon and getting frozen, the crocus family would have had a little sense knocked into it.
— Robert Benchley, born on this date in 1889

Unfortunate anniversary …

… The American Pageant: President dies of infection from gunshot wounds.

Word of the Day …

… Eureka | Word Genius.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

I wouldn't be surprised …

… THE ATLANTICAre Pandemic Hospitalization Numbers Misleading Us?

Just like any other successful virus, COVID-19 is becoming more contagious but less dangerous …



Tracking the decline …

The Black Mark of a Bachelor’s Degree.


… if you look at colleges generally, what do you get? Outside of those few departments like the applied sciences, where practical results condemn failure to the garbage can, or mathematics, where proof is proof and wishing doesn’t make it so, higher education is not education at all. It is a racket. I mean the word in its strict sense. The colleges have positioned themselves as the owners of the only bridge across an impassable river. If you want a good job, they say, you have to go through us, and we, with government enablers and enforcers, will make you mortgage yourself over the gables for the privilege.

I had a great time in college and when I visited my alma mater when I was The Inquirer’s book editor it seemed pretty much the place I knew. But I recently learned it may be going woke.

The poetry of argument …

Dialectism Sonnet




Dialectism is the existence

Of 2 phonemes weaving together

Laws coexist regardless of distance

Example: hot and cold in the weather

There is Form and Matter in everything

All Matter has Form, But not all Form does

For the a Cappella singer sings

All Form precedes Matter and Whole because

There is a divine order in the world

Even chaos is a deviation

Anouk is life: Sapien boy or girl

Everything is woven to formation

Is there free will indeterminism?

Even that is a whole algorithm 


— Benjamin Knox


How could that be?

 Detroit News Station’s Appeal For Stories About Unvaccinated Loved Ones Dying of COVID Gets an Unexpected Response.

Thousands of Facebook users shared stories describing alarming vaccine side effects, or posted about fully vaxed loved ones dying of the coronavirus. The viral post appears to have become a popular forum for victims of the vaccines to share their stories.


Not these days …

… Sherlock Holmes & Co.: Does Sherlock Holmes keep you company at night?

I read all the Holmes novels and stories when I was in my teens. I loved them, but I feel no need to return to them.y

Thinking for oneself …

… Why I Didn't Get the COVID Vaccine | Peter J. Leithart | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

President Biden’s hectoring speech put none of these suspicious to rest. Quite the opposite. Surely President Biden knew many would dig in their heels. Why would he take this tack? Frijters, Foster, and Baker note the role of “sin stories” during the COVID panic. “A very effective way to dominate people,” they write, “is to convince them they are sinful unless they obey.” Government officials and powerful business leaders use sin stories to divide and control opposition. Corporations break the power of labor by cultivating discord in the workforce; politicians tell sin stories to keep the people from mounting mass opposition. COVID, they note, is “an almost perfect sin story,” one that sets all against all by treating everyone as a potential source of deadly infection and literally distances us from one another so we can’t mount a united opposition. Giant companies told sin stories to kill off small businesses that couldn’t afford to keep up with constantly-changing regulations. And President Biden deepens divisions by presenting himself as president of the vaccinated, whose duty is to protect them from impure semi-citizens like me.

I may be an impure semi-citizen myself. I have certainly never been inclined to be servile toward the state,  especially given the quality — or mostly lack thereof — of politicians these days. Others, I gather, are more compliant than I.

Some people do seem to have a kind of religious fervor regarding vaccination (of course, others have a peculiar and overtly religious objection to them). Having been rather well trained in philosophy — the rational sort — I find this all very strange. I do not place my faith in science. Science is not about faith. It is about observation, experiment, and verification. And it is always open to challenge. Otherwise we would still think the sun circled the earth. I have had good lab courses in biology, physics, and chemistry. I have been a medical editor. The first thing I ever wrote that got me some success was a paper about microscopic life in a stagnant pond, complete with photomicrographs I had myself taken. I was about 15 at the time. It won a prize from Philadelphia's Museum of Natural History. So, while I am not a scientist, I like to think I am scientifically literate. And as an old-school journalist, I think all sides of a subject should be looked into, and all should be open to question.

Worth considering …

…  Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — To be careful with people and with words ….

Good news …

… Censorship fails again - by Alex Berenson - Unreported Truths. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Prescient | Word Genius.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Attention history buffs …

… HOME | Destinationfreedom. (Hat tip, Jim Remsen.)

Talk about gall …

Urgent: Elizabeth Warren is trying to censor me - by Alex Berenson - Unreported Truths. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A phony squaw calling what she disagrees with misinformation?

An annotated life …

… The Letters of TS Eliot Volume 9: 1939-1941 review – of poetry and purgatives. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

With a kind of inverse dandyism, Eliot concurrently fusses over his clothes, which he relies on to render him innocuous. The war, he thought, would usher in a totalitarian future when “we are all either in uniforms, or Civil Servants”; avoiding both khaki and pinstripes, he still sought the camouflage of uniformity. After being awarded a fellowship at a Cambridge college, he frets about acquiring the correct gown, surplice and hood. His duties as an air-raid warden in Kensington come with their own sartorial rules: Old Possum, the alter ego he adopted for his poems about cats, decrees that “Gas Masks are to be Worn, Under, not Over the Necktie”. At Christmas, he treats himself to a spring suit of blue-grey Glenurquhart Angola wool. He is especially proud of his umbrella, essential to the armature of the City gent: made of whangee cane, it has a bamboo handle and he coyly shelters behind it on the cover of this volume.

Blogging note …

 I have, as I have think I have made clear, caregiving responsibilities that are more important than blogging. I have been taken up with those today. I hope to some blogging this evening. Please be patient with me. 

Something to think on …

The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.

— J, B, Priestley, born on this date in 1894

Weightless weight …

… Nigeness: 'The one True Thomas'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — Diligence is the mother …

Word of the Day …

… Tonic | Word Genius.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Appreciation …

…  Ferdinand Mount: ‘You couldn’t not be frightened of Margaret Thatcher!’


Across the room from me (for Covid-related reasons, he has bicycled to my house this morning), Mount emits one of his surprisingly high-pitched chuckles. He wrote the book during last year’s lockdown, drawing on his own experiences – long ago, he ran Mrs Thatcher’s policy unit – and on the news cycle, which with every day that passed grew more obliging in terms of his subject matter.

Odd …

… NY Hospital Will Stop Delivering Babies as Maternity Workers Resign Over Vaccine Mandate.

If the vaccines are so great why are health workers reluctant to get them?

Grim anniversary …

… Miscellaneous Musings: U-156 sinks Laconia, killing more than 1400 men.

On the other hand …

… The Vaccines Do Not Stop Severe Covid or Death - LewRockwell.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Please notice the vast difference in relative and absolute risk reduction for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While the manufacturers kept talking about the 95.1 and 94.1 figures, which, indeed, sounded very impressive, the absolute risk reduction was actually only 0.7% and 1.1% respectively. The later set of figures were hardly ever mentioned in mainstream reporting on the subject.

In case you wondered …

… Why translators should be named on book covers | Fiction in translation | The Guardian. (Hat tio, Dave Lull.)

What used to be called healthy skepticism …

… Why Believing in Long-Term Vaccine Safety Is Simply Irrational.

… neither science nor basic logic is on their side. The simple argument against their position does not require a Ph.D. in epidemiology to understand. But, in fact, the Ph.D.s already get it, as do those with only a high school education. Indeed, proving Alexander Pope’s quip that “a little learning is a dangerous thing,” it is those in between—the ones who have the false confidence that comes from thinking themselves “educated” but whose educations are not as thorough as that of some others—who are the least vaccine-hesitant group in America. The Ph.D.s and those who have not submitted to the indoctrination of our education establishment are the ones who have not lost touch with the elementary common sense it takes to know that when the government comes a-knocking to offer to stick you with a syringe loaded with a rushed, experimental vaccine based on a new technology being implemented for the first time ever, a bit of “hesitancy” might be in order.


As an article in Nature last month put it, a "massive UK study of COVID-19 cases shows that people who are jabbed have good immunity at first, but quickly become more vulnerable to the fast-spreading Delta variant."

The following passage from the article I have linked to, however, prompts me to wonder if I should not get the shot after all (I turn 80 next month):

Any knowns and unknowns concerning vaccine risks must be weighed against the known and unknown risks of COVID-19 itself, which includes, of course, long-haul COVID complications. For many people, especially the elderly and individuals with various pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and chronic liver disease, this should be an easy choice. 

I do have hypertension, and take medication for it. It's the only medication I take. On the other hand, I don't like being bullied. Nevertheless, I'll think it over some more.

Something to think on …

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
— H. L. Mencken, born on this date in 1880

A tale of survival …

… Mark Twain’s interpretation of a perilous journey.

Word of the Day …

… Sedulous | Word Genius.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Joshua Cohen

 

It would be hard to read The Netanyahus -- Joshua Cohen's novel of American Jewry -- without channeling the ghost of Philip Roth. In fact, I think it would be impossible.

The Netanyahus, which was published this year, takes as its themes many explored by Roth: assimilation, identity, and sexuality -- just to name a few. This is a novel which is both humorous and profound; it's a novel confined in space and time, but which transcends both, and which offers a message which becomes far more universal. 

Were The Netanyahus written by Roth, we'd have read a different novel: one thicker and more evolved; one less reliant on certain tropes or associations. The novel would have been funny, but less as a result of action, and more because of innuendo.

All of that said, Joshua Cohen has written something lasting: here are American Jews, chosen by God, but living in a land of seemingly infinite choice. And more: here are American Jews, fearful of the assumption that they will favor one another, and in so doing, weaken their acculturation.

There are moments in The Netanyahus which really are quite funny, and there moments which are equally sad and poignant. I would not claim that the novel is as complete as one written by Roth. But as it pertains to American Jewry, each generation of Jewish writers offers its assessment, its rendering -- and Cohen has certainly set the bar for contemporary novelists. 

Hmm …

… Miscellaneous Musings: This book remains controversial because of misreadings.

I study the past in order to find out what things were like before I came on the scene, not to judge it in terms of  whatever view may be fashionable these days. 

I fear this is so …

 TWENTY YEARS AGO, THE TOWERS FELL …

Vision …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Altarpiece No. 1 (Hilma af Klint), Sonnet #579.

Sream for free …

… The Life & Loves of Sinclair Lewis, (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering …

 … What A Wonderful World 9-11.


9/11/2020, REMEMBRANCE BY DIANE SAHMS-GUARNIERI.

Madness or just plain corruption?

… The Madness of the Covidians | Wirkman Comment. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What she sees in her hospital work is the normal COVID-19 symptoms in incoming patients and patients with symptoms (such as blood clotting; cardiac issues; cognitive problems; encephalitis; kidney issues) that she believes derive from the “vaccines.” But doctors shut her down mid-sentence when she makes the connection between the vaccine and the new patients. And there is no reporting to VAERS.

An earlier 9/11 …

… Miscellaneous Musings: 9/11 at Brandywine Creek in Delaware County PA.

He's known them all …

… “Six Popes”: One of “The Six” Gets His Copy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.
— D. H. Lawrence, born on this date in 1885

September Poetry at North of Oxford …

 … Two Poems by Jennifer Novotney.

… When my dad created god by Jane-Rebecca Cannarella.

… Justice and Freedom by Roxanne Thibault.

… Brine Shrimp by Robert Beveridge.

Worth considering

Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes —Ot is not easy to be a pioneer …

Life in the time of Covid …

Obiter Scripta, no. 117. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Guffaw | Word Genius.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Worth remembering tomorrow …

Terrorism — a timely 9/11 lesson for us in 2021 from 1940.

Good question …

Where Are We Going? Where. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Worrisome ~

… Paper problems plague publishing: scary shortfalls seen soon — MobyLives. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One publishing insider pointed out last year that the backlash against plastic packaging has resulted in the manufacturing of more cardboard and paper packaging, this being a prime example of the law of unintended consequences. As mills pivot to manufacturing more cardboard packaging, they have less capacity for things like, well, books.