Arrived in my pile and pawed on my sofa

And what a pile it is, after a while in China.  I l have started pawing through:

Francis Spufford, True Stories & Other Essays.  I have browsed this only selectively, but the essay on C.S. Lewis and the dangers of apologetics is superb.  He quotes Lewis:

…nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist.  No doctrine of the Faith seems to me as spectral, so unreal as the one that I have just described in a public debate.  For a moment, you see it, it has seemed to rest on oneself; as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar…

I also can recommend Spufford’s essay on what science fiction call tell us about God, and on Francis Bacon and the idolatry of the market.  I look forward to the rest.

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism, by Naoki Higashida, is a good autism memoir from Japan.

Scott E. Page, The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy.

Peter Brannen, The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions.


ummm--nobody smart thinks diversity is a bonus anymore--see, e.g., Japan v. Greece or Seoul v. Paris or Hong Kong v. Malmo

Seen elsewhere on the web, universities pay higher salaries to diversity officers than professors. To be fair, DO's do better work.

Thankfully, the Islamic State is ready to give Middle East the blessing of human monoculture (so much better than America's melting pot) the same way America's puppets, the Mujahideen, did in Afghanistan.
"Japan v. Greece"
Banzai. Apparently, the Greeks' sin is not having killing enough American young men.
"Seoul v. Paris"
Or Pyongyang v. Paris. The French like cheese and snails. The North Korean like the Supreme Leader, working for the glory of their country and massive choreographed performances. At least, I do not have to ask if the natives do little traditional dances.

He drank the concrete pours in the Hudson Yards and ate the mastodon thighs from the Central Park Reservoir.

If one were to fall down once, he'd get up once and still be standing. Twice would be nonsensical.

Remember, though, C.S. Lewis, apart from a couple bad patches, including a few really bad months in WWI, lived the life he wanted to live in so many ways. When he said "nothing is as dangerous" to his faith as explaining details of his faith, he no more expected to be literally believed than I would expect to be believed if I said "the happiest moment of my life was that one day when I was really hungry and we were driving in Nevada on those roads where the exits are 50 miles apart and lo and behold there was a Dairy Queen, and after we parked and went in we discovered that it was not only a Dairy Queen but a Dairy Queen with fresh hot dogs for sale." (Rhetorical device - semi-mocking laconicism). Ok, I will start over. When he (Jack) talked about a "danger to his faith" in the context of having explained something, he was saying the exact same thing that a pretty young woman in North America last year (if last year is 1955) was trying to say when someone told her that the dress she was wearing was "charming it makes you look like a modern Cleopatra" and she said "why this old thing"! C.S. Lewis expected his readers to know these things. He was a bright guy, but not all that bright, and certainly not bright enough to have faked being a real Christian with real knowledge of what that means, if he were not such a person. (For the record, I look forward to reading the Spufford novel (well reading a few dozen pages in the novel if it is not all that good, the whole thing if it is good), although I expect that he will get lots of things wrong about old New York - for example, I doubt he knows why Manhattan chowder has no milk in it and New England chowder does - and no it is not as simple as "there were almost no cows in Manhattan in those days, and lots of cows in New England." Thanks for the bandwidth, Tyler. Weird that this site has not yet gone to moderated comments. I guess that is some libertarian thing, like some bizarro universe version of those plastic covers on furniture when guests who were not important enough used to visit someone's new house in the suburbs with their potentially messy kids. I had no way of knowing it then but those plastic covers were, in fact, libertarian. Sadly, I did not see it that way: all I knew was that I was not an important enough guest to visit when the plastic covers were off the couches. (Rhetorical device - semi-mocking laconicism). The people with the plastic on the couch had a nice small organ in the living room - I never heard it played but i remember how it looked in the moonlight that shone plainly and kindly on it, while the plastic on the couch slyly glinted - I am describing a night scene here in the moments when the lights had been turned out and all of us headed for the kitchen towards an "ice cream" treat - but their son - and this was no fault of theirs - had a very strong version of what we now call Asperger's syndrome. It was a cruel time and I remember that their son received a cruel nickname in the neighborhood (they called him Makeeta because his Apserger version of English reminded them of Nikita Kruschev, the Ukrainian tyrant. Well they all are older now and the ones who are still alive are kinder and would regret that if they remembered it, although they might smile a little at the memory.....I would like to think they wouldn't but probably they would...) Life is full of tragedies and C.S. Lewis, as good as he was in so many ways, should not have said that which is not true about his own strong faith, even if it seemed to him to be modest and polite. (The driveway was gravel, the grass was green, and there was only one tree on the lawn in front of the house, but lots of trees - maple, oak, and noble liriodendron - at the sides of the yard along the property lines. Tiger lilies, in summer, grew beneath those beautiful line of trees. Google Images, dated 2017,can still show generally how that all looked in 1967, if you type in the right address.) Lewis was not afraid of the diseases of old age and was not afraid of dying, his collected letters demonstrate that. He was joking when he said explaining his faith was dangerous to his faith. He was trying to be polite. Sprezzatura, but unneeded at the time and unneeded now; in that sense, time has changed nothing. Boker tov (Hebrew for Good Morning).

give me ten minutes and a couple dollars worth of thrift store clothes and I could look like either (a) a homeless dude who could plausibly claim to be a Vietnam vet seeking a handout or (b) a prosperous teacher of the prosperity Gospel, like poor Joel Osteen. In my heart I could be neither, looks don't matter, what matters is this - there are Christians who will say ah yes we all have our doubts - well I am living, one might say, on borrowed time - the truth is the truth - and here is something you might not know that someone living on borrowed time knows - there are a lot of people who will say "I struggle to believe" even when they don't struggle, they really believe, they know, they are just being polite because they feel sorry for you. Unneeded sprezzatura (leaven is a similar word, it sometimes means something much worse than you would think at first). Words, however, are fairly simplistic - there are less than 8000 in the Hebrew Bible - very few of them are all that accurate, compared to the experiences those words are tasked with describing in even a simple human lifetime of experience - what matters, and what is important, is not just words, what is important is what heart says to heart, what hard-earned gifts are passed along, what is lost for others and gained for others. And what I am saying is this: the truth is the truth and people who know the truth are often quite polite in saying well maybe they don't know it. Long before Joel Osteen there was an honest preacher who told his flock that someday they would read his obituary, and his obituary would say that he the preacher had died on such and such a date in such and such a city. Well don't you believe it, he said. And I don't. Feel free to think this is pastiche. It isn't.

Boker tov.

"semi-mocking laconicism" Practise being laconicer.

I have no idea what point you are trying to make about CS Lewis. At first you seem to be saying his faith was never really in danger and he was bragging, then that he never had faith. Your analogies are totally opaque, and you need to use paragraph breaks. I see now you returned to the topic of CS Lewis at the end, but I had long since stopped reading by then.

dearieme: thanks for the advice. I have spent years wondering who on this earth would be the most average of all people: (sort of like the recreational mathematicians trying to decide which is the most average number in a certain sequence): and have realized, after all those years (including the years as a sort of security guard, picture long nights where I never lost sight of the attention the secure area needed, but still was able to slowly, with respect for the job I was being paid for, reflect on the most fascinating of subjects): the golden touch of inspiration is at its most intense among those with the fewest gifts from above yet who still manage to survive. (the previous 24 words are the heart of this comment). I salute you, Sir, my Cantabrigian Knight: and thank you for the well-intended advice! Please read again, but this time read it as if I knew what I was talking about, you will not be sorry! you are too smart to be an atheist or even, with your education, an agnostic for all that long.... Noumenon72: CS Lewis, like me, understood how difficult it is to pretend among others, who do not have faith, that we do not have near-infinite pity for them - while still being so very very limited (me) or just very limited (CS Lewis). If I implied that Jack lacked faith, I spoke without thinking! Well, Dearieme and Noumenon, this is true - I will pray for you both every day of the rest of my life, and that is no small gift: you will not meet anyone who has wondered about these things who will not say that every one of their practical, speculative, philosophical and theological speculations ended successfully if they did not end in this - we should not fear disease, we should not fear death, we should only fear being hostile to those who deserve our love, we should only fear not wanting to linger on this earth as long as it takes to make someone else happy, and if that someone is someone who never had a friend on this earth, all the better. (Not that you both don't probably have lots of friends - that was just a little bit of non-laconic super-sympathetic rhetoric at the end, in the last dozen words or so - before that there was no "just rhetoric" aspect to a single word I wrote). Feel free to think this is pastiche. It isn't.

"the golden touch of inspiration is at its most intense among those with the fewest gifts from above yet who still manage to survive": if we ask God for this specific favor, he has promised that our descendants will be as numerous as the stones on the side of the road: and I, for one, refuse to be an ancestor who thinks any less of any of my descendants with fewer gifts from above than the others. Laconic enough?

Boker tov. For the record when I talk to a friend, or a potential friend, in real life, I never condescend: there is not a human who could not, in a matter of moments, be miraculously translated from a slow thinking status to a status that would flabbergast any of us and would flabbergast even the Shakespeares among us. Like is complicated but not all that complicated and what I just said is true. Wells once ended a novel with two people, years after an event that was important in the novel in a room in the novel, walking through the same room in an old house in a prosperous part of town: One asked the other, why are there those cloths over the sheets, the other replied: "Because of the flies." that was good, but, with all humility, this is better: here we are in 2007: after a third "date", which is not a big deal when one is in one's 20s but is a bigger deal a decade or two later, as is the case here, and A and B walked into B's apartment, a two story apartment near the center of a relatively inexpensive city, and A (a kind young female) asked B ( a slightly older male): why are there so many boxes (there were dozens of empty white boxes bought at OfficeMax or Staples, piled on top of each other in varying configurations - I leave the numbers out, but they were mathematically interesting - but they were empty, which B knew and A did not) - and B said, "for the cat". The cat had died, in spite of all the medical (veterinarian) help that a loving companion to a cat could provide, 5 years previously: and the spouse of B had left him 3 years previously. They left the boxes up. There you go: picture varying configurations of empty boxes in a near empty apartment and then imagine a conversation between two people, a conversation that would never be memorialized, both have forgotten, God bless them: "why are there so many boxes" ? "For the cat". If you read this and understand it , please give Dearieme a shoutout. I am not a spiritual genius and my prayers will not help you as much as I want: but I have close friends, who are, in fact, spiritual geniuses (Carmelite poets, that sort of thing) and if I ask them to pray for poor Dearieme, they will. One tries one's best: it is easier when one has no fear of death. And that, in itself, is not a gift: that is what the Creator wanted for us from the very beginning, even before nostalgic moonlight reflections on the plastic covered furniture in the cheap suburban homes where I first learned to feel fearless sympathy for the older people who did not have any obvious loves in their heart for losers like me. That being said, maybe they did: they did, sadly, they were too proud to let me know. Sad, but not all that sad: forgiveness means understanding, and, if you are a young novelist, take that to heart: there are more people who wish they had been kinder than history records. Sad! but, with effort, retrievable. Boker tov, Dearieme: Sister Cordeila is praying for you at my request, and many others. Dedication: to Bixy, Benny and Jenny: I was not the first to know you were eternal but I was the first to be seen in your eyes as someone else knew that. (All these words make sense - if you read them and thought they did not, read again: perhaps in light of the middle chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, or better yet in light of every chapter in Isaiah with a reflection in it on the comfort God provides to those who in their heart of hearts love: Cor ad cor loquitur. I am stronger than you think: let us all resist that which is clearly wrong: Saint George and me never forget that there are bad people in this world: Jesus died for them too. "Why are there so many boxes?" "For the cat". Stay strong, my friends. Old Telephone Man, Palos Verdes: I remember.

"Life is not that complicated" "someone else who knew that". February 13, 2005 (the date, long after 1917, when Sister Lucia rejoined her siblings).

IRL people like to listen to me talk. Seriously, don't feel bad if what I wrote takes 3 or more times reading to make sense of. Maybe "it is not you it is me". IRL , people like to listen to me talk, and they wonder what I would say if we had more time. What I wrote has a lot of truth in it. Translate it if you want, but don't spend too long on it, but also: don't regret the time spent: maybe you are a better communicator than me, but even if you are so much better than me that a few moments trying to listen seems like a waste: listen to this: I, for one, appreciate it, and do not want you to feel regret. Heart speaks to heart. God loves us all. Dozens of nuns, at my request, are praying for you, mon lecteur, mon semblable . A Cambridge grad was unexpectedly kind and polite to me once: I remember: and there are many things I am not, but one thing I am, I hope, is grateful. We live in a world of people who imagine themselves to be apex predators: but they are merely sheep, looking for a pastor: I have seen their selfish inevitable downfall too many times, and regret they were not converted in time! Well there is still time for so many of us: Magna est veritas et praevalebit: God love us all. I have said that twice now, and here it is a third time: God loves us all. Dedication: to Bixy, Jenny, and Benny: I was the first to tell you that you are eternal.

boker tov

perhaps you are thinking "nobody reads this" and , if so, feel free to express as much contempt as you want, but where else have you read on the internet: "I am not a spiritual genius but I have many friends who are"? If you can answer that by saying "all over the place": feel free to condescendingly criticize. God loves us all. Please feel free to plagiarize: that would make me happy. Stay strong, my friends, God loves us all. Boker tov. Dedication: to Bixy, Jenny and Benny: I was the first to tell you that you are eternal. I took care of you in sickness and in health and you lived wonderful long lives on this earth. Nobody will ever be able to tell you otherwise than that you were and are loved, my friends. You understood and understand that. Boker tov.

"I am not a spiritual genius but I have many friends who are" is one of those things I can imagine just about everybody I have ever met being capable of saying. The name for statements like that in rhetoric escapes me. (Shakespeare used it rarely - Hamlet never said anything that almost everybody one has met could say, except for the to be or not to be sad oration - later writers used it to excess, particularly in the optimistic and humane 18th century). The reader - if the reader cares - hears a statement like that and, after the phrase of "many friends who are" is reflected on, calls to mind the reader's own friends and wonders: which ones? As the potential list narrows, another thought occurs: if there are, contrary to what one used to think, "spiritual geniuses" in the world, maybe they have more close friends than one thinks, so .... back to C.S. Lewis, imagine his first conversation with Williams about "co-inherence": well I love the English language but there needs to be a better word for it (for co-inherence). And yes a really good writer would probably have had a better lead up to "for the cat". Thanks for reading. "Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore beatae Mariae Virginis: gaudent Angeli et collaudant Filium Dei .... verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi" (introit for July 16).

There is a nice painting by Pietro Novelli, "Our Lady of Mount Carmel". If you get a chance, read the Carmelite poets in a bilingual edition, even just 4 or 5 lines are worth the effort. July 16 means nothing to me that any other date does not mean: but perhaps, for you, July 16 is the date that crowns the year. I have had many joys in life but it is likely you have had more: if your child was born on July 16, or your spouse, or any other beloved friend or relative: you should know: once a year the Church celebrates "Our Lady of Mount Carmel." On July 16, Thanks, Tyler and Alex: and thanks to the other billions of people in this world for abstaining, in one gentle world-wide moment of non-arrogance, for not immediately replying, in a rude way, to my heartfelt attempt at conversation with the two or three humans and the near infinite number of bots (God loves you too, amici vere amici) who read what I write on the internet: God loves you too, and God, if he listens to my prayers, loves you more than God loves me: I am satisfied with the gift of not needing to know God loves me: reread, if you are confused, the accounts of the last days of von Neumann and Stevens, - the next few words are true, for the record, just like the rest - IRL they would not, as you did not, want to walk away while I said that which needs to be said, when friends talk to friends. cor ad cor loquitur. Feel free to "plagiarize": if you understand, the insights are as much yours as mine. I miss you Jenny, I miss you Bixy, I miss you Benny: God loves us all, God loves us all. But you already knew that. Love is infinite, confusion is finite; Love is infinite. Cor ad cor loquitur. The person I want to have read this has read this. Cor ad cor loquitur, heart speaks to heart; cor ad cor loquitur. I have not accomplished much in life but I have had, several times, the joy of explaining to a fellow creature that, yes, my friend, you are eternal. Cor ad cor loquitur. Heart speaks to heart.

hot dogs still good and fresh, the proverbial mark of difference between ugly and clean, light and clown

Proverbs 9, 1-2

East of Eden


I'm fairly sure that the autism memoir is by Naoki, not Noaki.

A Diversity Bonus would be A Book Without A Colon In Its Title.

And still, no Art of the Deal. It beckons, Tyler - be the first on your intellectual block!

Why should he read that book, not even President Donald J. Trump has.

> President Donald J. Trump

It makes me happy just knowing you had to type out those words!!

Resistance is futile.

That's the saddest thing posted here in a while, OJ. You need better hobbies.

Diversity bonus: I've observed that in business, most entrepreneurs pick partners like themselves. And the same is true in mating: most people pick spouses like themselves. Indeed, in the spousal picking game, it's become something of a problem that the highly educated pick the highly educated, the highly compensated pick the highly compensated, resulting in much less mixing of the classes. One can observe this phenomenon in the Trump business and the Trump clan. Would the Trump business and the Trump clan have less melodrama and fewer crises if the Trump business and the Trump clan had greater diversity, more people unlike themselves? The "household" was the family and economic unit in the ancient world, and included the paterfamilias, his sons and daughters, his slaves, and his freedmen, but not his wife (who remained in the "household" of her father). The wife was excluded so as to prevent two families from combining their economic and political power by marriage. Even the ancients knew the benefit of diversity. Someone should tell Trump.

Arrived in my pile: Democracy in Chains, by Nancy MacLean. Amazon (

Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. The capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did. Democracy in Chains names its true architect—the Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan—and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority.

In a brilliant and engrossing narrative, Nancy MacLean shows how Buchanan forged his ideas about government in a last gasp attempt to preserve the white elite’s power in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. In response to the widening of American democracy, he developed a brilliant, if diabolical, plan to undermine the ability of the majority to use its numbers to level the playing field between the rich and powerful and the rest of us.

Corporate donors and their right-wing foundations were only too eager to support Buchanan’s work in teaching others how to divide America into “makers” and “takers.” And when a multibillionaire on a messianic mission to rewrite the social contract of the modern world, Charles Koch, discovered Buchanan, he created a vast, relentless, and multi-armed machine to carry out Buchanan’s strategy.

Without Buchanan's ideas and Koch's money, the libertarian right would not have succeeded in its stealth takeover of the Republican Party as a delivery mechanism. Now, with Mike Pence as Vice President, the cause has a longtime loyalist in the White House, not to mention a phalanx of Republicans in the House, the Senate, a majority of state governments, and the courts, all carrying out the plan. That plan includes harsher laws to undermine unions, privatizing everything from schools to health care and Social Security, and keeping as many of us as possible from voting. Based on ten years of unique research, Democracy in Chains tells a chilling story of right-wing academics and big money run amok. This revelatory work of scholarship is also a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government.

To be clear, I think the premise of this book is nonsense. Ms. MacLean describes the movement as a cult, and identifies Cowen specifically (and GMU generally) as a leading figure in it. One earmark of a cult is insulation of its members from competing ideas. Ms. MacLean must not have visited this blog, for if she had she would know that Cowen considers many competing ideas and identifies books, articles, and essays across a wide spectrum of beliefs, political and otherwise. Indeed, Cowen's broad reading list is the main reason I read this blog. I've referred to this book in several comments, not to promote it but to address it head on. Here is an article co-written by the historian Henry Farrell that criticizes and reveals what's wrong with this book:

Believe it or not, it's worse, sir.

Donald J. Boudreaux: “MacLean’s suggestion that an economist’s use of the term ‘marginal revolution’ refers to a nefarious modern American political plot is no less ridiculous than had she suggested that a physicist’s use of the term ‘Newtonian revolutio’” refers to a plot to stuff all cookies with filling made of figs.”

Instapundit, "Scholarship based on paranoia and ignorance isn’t really scholarship at all. But what it is, unfortunately, is pretty common."

As we've become accustomed to expect from the left, it's always hypocrisy and stupidity.

"Now, I see," said the blind man, "how Obama got to spend eight years in the White House."

To be clear, there is no cult or conspiracy. On the other hand, Buchanan (and public choice) and Koch were made for each other: Buchanan (public choice) gave Koch an intellectually sounding reason to oppose the regulation of the fossil fuel industry in which Koch made his fortune, while Koch gave Buchanan (and GMU) the funds to build (mostly) libertarian economics and law departments for like-minded academics. Liberals are just jealous: they march to so many different drummers, cats are more likely to work together for a common purpose.

I am trying damned hard to be a Christian.

The founder of one of the Religious Orders told his followers to spread the Gospel; and preach if it was necessary.

I think (claxons!) that my problems with explaining my Faith aren't only centered on doubt. In addition, My most un-Christian problem with explaining my Faith is lack of Charity for the Faith denier.

Regarding doubt: I think it's present in The Acts of the Apostles that the Apostles/Disciples still had doubt even after witnessing the Resurrected Jesus ascend to Heaven.

For me, prayer is a large part of my Faith. One prayer I often say includes asking Jesus to take all souls to Heaven. I am finally coming around to trying to actually desire that. Lack of Charity may be far more damning than doubt of Faith. St. Paul wrote that Charity/Love is the greatest of the Theological Virtues.

The Fatima prayer? That's a classic one :-)

Augustus walked from Floripa to Morro de Sao Paulo. He walked on the heads of his guards treading in the water. He was unafraid. He ate beef. There was salt along the beaches. He ate beef with salt. They grew rice. Brazil eliminated fear. Brazil fights for coral reefs. Look at the flag.

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