Friday, October 10, 2014

Just to scare the snot out of you

What I'm going as for Halloween:


Image courtesy of Althouse, who picked it up from a link at National Review. Her husband Meade's comment is pretty funny, I think.

Other than that, be afraid, be very afraid. These are the Left's latter day Children of the Corn.

Totally unrelated: WTF is "Hadroop"? Logging in en route to post this, Google Adservices informs me I can learn it in 15 days. I sure hope it doesn't involve "genderbread".

Dave Davies: In You I Believe

I remember buying this from a "bargain bin" circa 1981. Dave Davies's solo stuff always reminded me of Triumph with his high voice and prominent lead guitar. The lick from this tune has always stayed with me. It kicks up to my virtual turn-table as I walk down Lorain Ave on Friday in my blue jeans.

It's a walking song.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Dante Trail trail: E Beeros, Christos

Eh...I might have fudged the Latin a bit. Whatever.

This post wraps up Rod's Italian vacation and our studious following of it as well. A quick synopsis:

Rod likes the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a lot, for a whole host of reasons, but beer seems to be the one shoving itself into the camera frame. Three of the five pics in his last overseas post were either of or about the beer they brew, and his general takeaway was that the beer helped them bring people to the Church, hence the subtitle of our post.

This could also be a revealing element of Rod's teologia dei suini which we've been unpacking here, namely that, for some souls like Rod, everything that goes in their goozlepipe comes to be regarded as a divine sacrament.

Rod would also like us to know, PAULI, PIK, and DIANE

I told the monks a bit of my story, about how I became Orthodox. There was no sense of judgment or hardness toward me for having left the Catholic Church.

So there.

I graded the beer pics as food pics, bringing our final tote to:

Total pics: 43 - 100%

Selfies: 7 - 16% of total

Things Rod Ate: 12 - 24% of total

Hope someone out there had the winning square. I didn't. I had bet on more selfies, but food took the lead in the final straightaway

Our final Dante Trail trail takeaway: given the preview we've seen on the Dante Trail trail, boy, howdy, will Rod be batting out of his league trying to fuse a figure like Dante into his personal spiritual maelstrom.

There's been no hint so far that his engagement with Dante in Italy has been anything beyond travel guide name- and place-dropping, while the overwhelming focus of the content has been Rod's comestible-obsessed feeling tour of the small part of Italy he could afford to visit.

An honest book about Rod for those for whom he's their spiritual guru? That would sell, to those people. A serious, scholastically researched book about Dante? Well, maybe there's still room for another one, even by an amateur.

But a book where Rod in effect only rubs Dante's head for luck while leading us on a pseudo-Dantean journey through his own personal Hell? This is bait for the publishing Erinyes, fer sure. May they be merciful and not take his eyes.

And with this I'll hand it over to our readers. What sort of Dante-based book about saving Rod's life would you or anyone you know be likely to buy?

Oohhh! Oohhh! Mr. Kotter!

Yeah, Pikkumatti got me in the mood for mashups. How about this one? I think the name that formed in my mind while watching this was Vinnie Barbarino.

. . . oh bother . . . . oh bother . . . .

Apocalypse Pooh (warning for salty language):

Best mashup ever, IMO.


Hold Pro-Abortion Politicians Accountable

Here's an email I got yesterday from the National Pro-Life Alliance. If you can throw some funds their way, please do.

Pauli --

"Many hands make light work . . ."

. . . That's pretty much the whole idea behind grassroots mobilization.

NPLA doesn't have the powerful interests spending hundreds of millions. (And we don't need them.)

We have supporters like you, and at big fundraising deadlines, we're absolutely relying on you to come through and make a donation.

Can we count on you, Pauli?

According to our records associated with this exact email address, here's what we have marked down for you:

-- 2014 Election Mobilization Program: Not yet
-- Suggested Action: Donate $5 or more today.

Every day when I come to work, I see why grassroots organizing matters. It's about building relationships, and empowering everyday Americans to stand up and be heard.

It's truly inspiring.

But when we're facing a huge budget deadline like Thursday's, it's also incredibly nerve-wracking.

Our grassroots programs depend on support from folks like you -- anyone who is ready to take action across the country.

We set a goal of reaching $43,000 before Thursday at midnight (24 hours). That breaks down to about 16 donations from . We can do that, right?

Every donation here goes a long way. (And it's my job to make sure of that!)

Before our critical fundraising deadline on Thursday night, please chip in $5 or more:


-- Jenni


Because of NPLA's tax-exempt status under IRC Sec. 501(c)(4) and its state and federal legislative activities, contributions are not tax deductible as charitable contributions (IRC § 170) or as business deductions (IRC § 162(e)(1)). Privacy Policy.

To help NPLA grow, please consider forwarding this message to a friend.



Man, take a vow of silence, won't ya?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On the Dante Trail trail: Behold, America: A Ham Tree!

Now we're talking. Our third Station of the Belly: charcuterie, the sacrament of the teologia dei suini and its apostle.

To leaven lurking little voices like this

The primi piatti was spaghetti with mushrooms and black truffles, and the secondi was a mixed grill that included, yes, wild boar. I wish I had a boar piglet sleeping at the foot of my bed tonight. And I wish Nonna would come by and bring me warm milk and tell me a bedtime story.

with at least some alibi of spirituality we also get this sworn testimony

I spent an hour today praying my prayer rule in front of the altar of the crypt church, underneath the church you see above.

Why an hour rather than 50 minutes or an hour ten isn't specified, and as usual how anyone but Rod would really know isn't either, but I think the message comes through loud and clear: Rod is a prayer athlete, no doubt also explaining his inexhaustible need for fuel, particularly black truffles which contain the vital amino acid precarosine.

Those of us who maybe pray for five minutes or so at bedtime for our family and friends would clearly be out of our league in this sort competitive exhibition.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but an hour of prayer taken from the day is an hour that wasn't spent learning much about Dante, which tends to reinforce my suspicion that the Dante book will be more about Rod's interior life than about Dante and his work. You, potential Dante book reader, will in turn be vicariously saved, not so much by Dante, but by absorbing these various sensibilities of the athletic apostle we're following here as if they were a spiritual vapor rub.

The ham tree and its associated signs from this SOTB shift our tote board once again:

Total pics: 38 - 100%

Selfies: 7 - 18% of total

Things Rod Ate: 9 - 24% of total

Our Dante Trail trail takeaway this evening: by your works you shall be known. Although our following leads with this piety, salted with the language of the donkey-born traveler of yore

Casella and I find ourselves lodging here tonight. We came to make a pilgrimage to the church and monastery built over the birthplace of the saint and his twin sister, St. Scholastica. A happy, happy benefit of coming here is that Norcia (Nursia, to Americans) is known for cured meats, wild boar, and truffles.

the picture sequence reveals a completely opposite set of priorities. As Rod himself says, there's a lesson here for us Christians in these times.

They deserve it

These guys deserve the prize for figuring out how to made blue light come out of a semiconductor. Excerpt:

When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a funda-mental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades.

They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.

Bonus points for relegating the twisty-bulb to the ash heap of history.

On the Dante Trail trail: Groundhog Day

Basically, yesterday's offering with different postcard pics: Anthony Bourdain and Rick Steves do Ravenna in a day, glowing.

Our tote update (no selfies, one food pic together with one of the building in which it was consumed):

Total pics: 13 - 100%

Selfies: 7 - 21% of total

Things Rod Ate: 3 - 18% of total

I probably shouldn't be prematurely dismissive. There are things to be gleaned from today's adventure that surely shed some light on what the Dante-book-to-be will contain, such as this megachurch mailer boilerplate:

A short film I saw at the Dante Museum next to his tomb speculated on how the mosaics the poet saw in Ravenna, where he lived the final years of his life and where he wrote Paradiso, may have given him visual ideas. It’s a lovely thought, and there might be something to it. They certainly give me thoughts — Dantean ones about God’s glory, and how everything in this world is a reflection of the world beyond it. And how all things can be made to work in harmony for God’s glory.

If only they could make potato chips this diaphanous and one-dimensional.

And for those of you holding on to hope that Rod will one day return to the Catholic Church, this follows:

Casella says I’m still culturally Catholic, and he’s right to a significant extent, but this trip has made me realize how deeply Orthodox the Divine Liturgy has made me over these last eight years. I felt at home in S. Vitale in a way that I did not in any of the Catholic churches we entered, except for the Baptistery in Florence — but its ceiling is covered with dazzling mosaics. The way we pray really is the way we believe. Anyway, Casella and I pray for the reunion of our churches.

Who doesn't pray for such things simple good and true if they do? Anyway, the best way to follow Rod's theological fan dance is to ensure that he keeps on writing about it, and right now the very best way to ensure that he keeps on writing about it is to make your generous tax-deductible contribution to TAC today. Just thought I'd connect those implicit dots for any takers out there.'s Dante Trail trail takeaway. To me so far this pilgrimage doesn't remotely read like any sort of serious book research trip (mainly because so much time and energy has been spent food and travel blogging), and because I'm not the sort of person given to painting pants on emperors not wearing any, this leads me to think one or both of two possible things explain what I see.

First and foremost, that Rod is almost certainly doing this on his own very thin dime - if this is Wednesday, this must be Ravenna - I can almost see Mrs. Dreher counting the budget out of the cookie jar herself - and if it's his money, well by golly it's going to get spent primarily on what he wants to do most (eat; then eat some more).

Second, yep: he's going to try to wing the Dante book with just the sort of filler I first quoted above. After all, the central focus of the book is how Dante saved - whose? That's right, not yours: Rod's life.

So what you will end up getting, potential Rod's Dante book buyer, will be something much like our meta-derivative Dante Trail trail itself: a richly Dante-flavored Rod-centric soy product giving you (at hardback prices) that elusive hope that somehow reading about how Rod claims reading Dante saved him from a murky bouillabaisse of something - mono? depression? impacted colon? middle age? being loathed into deblogging by his home town? - that for the sake of economy he'll shorthand as "his life".

Because he wasn't really contemplating suicide, was he? Because that would be a sin. Remember that, you already fated to have read the Dante book some time from now.

Mr. Moonbones on Gargoyles

I used to think a gargoyle was a certain type of goyle, as opposed to a boy. But that silliness is only one of the many misconceptions about gargoyles. Oengus Moonbones instructs the ignorant among us with regard to these strange—but eminently good—creatures in an installment of his serial Caspar and Lonnie. Excerpt:

The best way, I suppose, to describe the appearance of a gargoyle would be to say, as a first approximation, that it is like a monstrous blend of monkey, lizard, toad, and octopus. Now gargoyles stand upright, usually, and are bipedal, mostly, and have binocular vision, if you don't take into account their auxiliary receptors. Gargoyles have very strong prehensile tails, which can be used as an extra leg. Their hands and feet are more reptilian-like with long, razor sharp nails and claws, which are retractable like in cats. The arms and legs are long and slender but surprising for their strength and agility. As for their skin, it appears more toad-like than anything, and it is covered with many protuberances, or bumps, the overall coloration ranging between a dark greyish green to a deep bluish purple. Gargoyles are odorless. Their large primary eyes are a deep red in color, with pupils resembling what you see in cats. Their heads sport multiple horns, sprouting at least six or more, which curve to sharp points. Their noses are bulbous, with a keen sense of smell, and the large mouths contain long fangs. The ears are large, and floppy, and acutely sensitive over a wide frequency range. A Gargoyle's tongues is split at the end, the tips being capable of moving independently. A gargoyle's voice is clear, well articulated and gentle sounding. If ever you have heard a very mellow, late night FM radio disk jockey, that is close to what a gargoyle sounds like when it talks.

I mentioned "auxiliary receptors". What I mean each of the protuberances on the skin houses a tentacle which can be extended or retracted, and these tentacles have visual receptors as well. And by extending its tentacles, a gargoyle has the ability to view its surroundings in many different directions simultaneously. Besides being able to see, the tentacles are also very strong and can grasp hold of objects. Now some species of octopi are famous for their ability to instantly mimic or blend into their surroundings. Gargoyles have the same ability, only carried to a much higher degree. This is how gargoyles can make themselves virtually invisible. You could have a gargoyle clinging up on the ceiling just a few feet above you, watching you, but you would never be able to see it. That is how well they can blend into their surroundings.

Read the whole thing. It's getting good.

"Morning, Noon and Night... ALL RIGHT"

The Cramps at the Napa Mental Hospital. Yes, it really happened. 1978. From MindHacks:

During a 1978 tour, psychobilly punk band The Cramps created one of the strangest moments in the history of both rock n’ roll and psychiatry when they played a gig inside Napa State Mental Hospital.

It’s hard to believe it actually happened. The story sounds more like an exaggerated rock legend than an account of a real concert, but no suspension of disbelief is needed. Someone filmed the gig.

We can only guess how the band got permission to play inside one of California’s biggest mental institutions, but play they did, to a few supporters and a fired-up crowd of psychiatric inpatients.

Everyone needs some live rock and roll every once in awhile, baby.

As a punk friend of mind quipped "There's no way anyone would let a band do this nowadays." Frickin' lawyers.

Here's the full video, if you are into this kind of thing. (Like I am.)

My Upcoming Decision

I wanted to highlight an extended comment made recently by commenter Art Deco.

The American Conservative and the dispositions and remarks of its editor, Daniel McCarthy, are the purest source of all that renders the 'alt-right' project problematic. The ongoing conceit is that they represent something true and authentic and sublime in contrast to the vulgarities of 'movement conservatives'. Really? 

There's nothing that's published in Chronicles by anyone not named Fleming, Rockwell, or Francis that might not find a home in some other publication. (As for the stuff published by these men, do you really want recycled copy from the Radovan Karadzic press agency or the White Citizens' Council?). The v Mises Institute is a collecting pool for purveyors of fringe (read crank) social theory and research ("Austrian" economics and neo-confederate historiography). The Rockford Institute is a remnant, just a corporate shell for Chronicles, the "National Humanities Institute" has two salaried employees (Claes Ryn and one other) and issues an absolutely soporific annual. The Unz Review is issued by amateurs whose big idea is that social research is reducible to psychology and anthropology which is reducible in turn to biology and that Science demonstrates this but ideologically driven social researches are dedicated to Not Noticing things. They collect as their acolytes a mess of disagreeable people who are obsessed with blacks and Jews and despise both. (Who also seem to enjoy Steve Sailer's gig as volunteer press secretary for Vladimir Putin and his minions). Their idea of a popular movement is Ron Paul - a conceited goof who trades in historical fabulism (and goldbuggery).

And Daniel McCarthy is a fine example of a type that Samuel Francis and Stephen Tonsor took to task, the 'career conservative'. Except, in his case, he presides over a publication that's always been a cesspool of idiosyncracies: Philip Giraldi's hatred of Jews, Andrew Bacevich's resentments of his former employer and military officers more accomplished than he (Petraeus in particular), Steve Sailer's obsession with a tests-and-measurements psychology that he never studied in an academic setting, Conor Friedersdorf's Miss Manners campaign, and Scott McConnell's sundry aperçus (and contempt for Jews). The whole thing was a train wreck from the get go, and yet they persist in this illusion that they are the 'legitimate' heirs to Robert Taft (who manifested a dispensation in the Republican Party that was non-existent from 1959 to 1990 and has only Russell Kirk as a thin filament of genealogy between then and now).

Then Mr. Deco ends with "rant off". Which caught me by surprise. I think that it's probably a feature of someone who is conservative but not an alt-conservative that they are sensitive to ranting. Antithetically, many alt-con pundits don't realize they are ranting as a normal course of their alt-con punditry. That can be problematic for your argument and your readership numbers. I mused long ago that Dan Larison was king of the exclamation point, and although he has settled down over the years, he still blurts multiple invectives (insane, deranged, ridiculous, absurd, etc.) whenever dealing with mainstream conservatives in his writing when they espouse the slightest hints of hawkishness. And, of course, the Ted Cruz kerfuffle is a great recent example of an alt-con hive-mind rant.

I rather thought the characterizations in his comment were commonsensical and to the point. They were meant to be summaries, obviously. Ron Paul is a historical fabulist; the lily needs no more paint. The von Mises institute is fringy and cranky, and related to that, the word "Austrian" belongs in scare-quotes when modifying economics. Steve Sailer is so obsessed with, well, what he is obsessed with that they should change the saying to "one-note Stevie". (No doubt he would then immediately respond with a long article about why George Shearing wasn't as famous as this blind guy since he had a higher IQ.)

I like summaries when they save me time. I've got a lot of stuff to get done. They might also save me money. Explanation: I was toying with the idea of subscribing to Chronicles Magazine which, as far as I can tell, is much more sensible than TAC and is $45 for a year, 75% of TAC's subscription price. This idea came to me while talking to one of the editors at the Chesterton event I went to last Sunday. He is a pretty good friend of a pretty good friend, and I've appreciated his blog posts in the past.

So maybe Mr. Deco can further weigh in on the proposed decision. It seems that he respects the publication more than TAC from the comments in his "rant". Someone recently reminded me that Aristotle said "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." So although I'm more of a Weekly Standard type of conservative, I think it might be good to imbibe some sensible material from other perspectives. Thomas Meehan is welcome to weigh in also, or any of the regular commenters.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Yes I'm calling out"

Taking a break here.

Obama-Ebola Image Files

Here are a few in different formats. Click for full size.




Ohhhh.... you're welcome.

Paul Ryan: "I may get audited for approving this message"

Love it.

Hey, man, 2016: Run, Paul, run!

On the Dante Trail trail: Faking It to the Streets

With Danteworld Rod has given up pretending the Dante Trail has any real substantive connection to the hoped for Dante book-to-be and is instead basically just giving us Uncle Ed's and Aunt Sylvia's Kodak Carousel slide show of their retirement vacation in blog form.

This will not be a long post, because I can’t gather my thoughts now.

Hey, no kidding? Same thing happens to me. But when it does, I don't buttonhole strangers on the street to inform them, "This will not be a long sentence, because I can’t gather my thoughts now." I just don't say anything. But, then I'm not a writer. Come to think of it, isn't it a writer's job to be able to gather their thoughts? To be able to describe the Dante Trail in Sienna?

Of course, if the real payload is you - what you're eating, what your facial expression is at this exact moment, what you're wearing right now, the quality of lodging you demand, your tastes in music - then gathering your thoughts really doesn't matter, does it. As with the Pharaohs of old, whatever comes out the hole becomes valuable by virtue of its source.

Welcome to Rodworld...Unplugged.

Still smarting from Diane's smack down, today on the Dante Trail trail there is not one selfie, only one food pic, but eight picture postcards from Ravenna, bringing our score now to:

Total pics: 13 - 100%

Selfies: 7 - 26% of total

Things Rod Ate: 3 - 19% of total

One of the reasons I continue to refer to Diane's effect on Dreher's subsequent behavior is that his subsequent writing is clearly responsive to what we just previously have discussed here in EQE. Today's Important Message To All: (1) Rod's not gay; no, honest; and (2) no matter what passions Sidney Bechet may incite in two men vacationing together in romantic Tuscany,

We crossed the bridge over the Arno and bought gelato for dessert, and walked back to our place, glowing. We spoke of how much we loved our wives and our children, and how blessed we are to have families. As much as I have loved Florence, I really can’t wait to go back home to Julie and the children — and I am so very, very grateful to be able to rest in them, and in their love. This kind of inner peace is what I’ve been searching for all my life, and God has given it to me in them, and in my faith.

Got that? He wrote in down right there. I should interject at this point that one of the reasons I'm a bit late to this Dante Trail trail update is that I've been handing out crisp $100 bills all morning to what seems to be an endless line of underprivileged but adorable children as they file past my desk. Not only did I pray for each one individually as each smiled at me, eyes streaming with tears of gratitude, I also prudently instructed each one not to spend it all in one place. Oh, and in addition to praying over each child individually, I also stopped and prayed eleven other additional times this morning. I'm telling you all this so you can make a note of it about me and tell your friends as well.

Speaking of prayer, apparently Yahweh has loosened the no-others-before-Him policy since HR first posted it back in the day:

The hotel is close to Dante’s tomb, so that’s where we went. How strange it was to approach it for the first time! Casella knew what the moment meant to me, and let me go in alone. I kissed Dante’s tomb and went to my knees, touching my forehead to the cold marble floor in a gesture of honor. I stood and prayed to him, thanking him for what he has done for me, and asking his blessing on my writing.

Who knew?

So let's gather our thoughts and wrap it up, shall we? Today's Dante Trail Takeaway: writing is the Philosopher's Stone, man; you can use it to create any reality you desire out of whatever you have at hand, even nothing at all.

Bonus takeaway: how do you make something about Dante? Simple: attach his name to it. Turns out others have already beat Rod and me to it.

Billboard, driving to work today: "Big Dante Tire Sale. Buy 3, Get the 4th One Free!"

Radio: "Dante Night at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee"

Lunch: "Have it Your Dante Way Today" That's right, dude: with prosciutto.

Do black people break the law more than white people?

Wait! Don't answer that question out loud. You might get in trouble.

Heather MacDonald asks a bunch of controversial questions which shouldn't be controversial in this article. We're also told that it is a good idea to ask questions, even though they might be rhetorical questions, about problems in our society. Don't you think? Liberals also like to question authority, they usually think "questioning the official statement" is a positive thing. Maybe they're right. I certainly like the questions that MacDonald asks with regard to the official preconceptions which we are told to have about Ferguson. Excerpt:

Example: Ferguson issues fines for traffic violations; 20 percent of its municipal budget comes from such receipts. If people with outstanding fines or summons don’t appear in court, a warrant for their arrest is issued. Conclusion: this is a racist system. The city is deliberately financing its operations on the backs of the black poor. The only reason that blacks are subject to fines and warrants, according to the media, is that they are being hounded by a racist police force. “A mostly white police force has targeted blacks for a disproportionate number of stops and searches,” declared Time on September 1. What is the evidence for such “targeting?” Time provides none. Might blacks be getting traffic fines for the same reason that whites get traffic fines—because they broke the law? The possibility is never contemplated. The most frequently summonsed traffic offense is driving without insurance, according to the New York Times’s “exposé” of Ferguson’s traffic-fine system. Perhaps the Times’s editors would be blasé about being hit by an uninsured driver, but most drivers would be grateful that the insurance requirement is being enforced. Might poor blacks have a higher rate of driving without insurance than other drivers? Not relevant to know, apparently.

The next highest categories of driving infraction are blasting loud music out your car and driving with tinted windows. Attend police-community meetings in poor areas and you will regularly hear complaints about cars with deafening sound systems. Should the police ignore such complaints? Are they ignoring similar complaints in white areas because they want to give whites a pass? Do Ferguson’s white and black drivers blast loud music from their cars at the same rate? We never learn. Tinted windows pose a possibly lethal threat to the police during traffic stops, since they prevent officers from assessing the situation inside the car before approaching. Ignoring this infraction puts officers’ lives at risk. Should the police nevertheless do so? Such is the implication, if doing so would mean fewer fines for black motorists. The New York Times quotes a victim of the racist Ferguson traffic-enforcement system, who was fined for driving without a license. Why was his license suspended—was he driving drunk? Did he hit someone? We will never know. What is the crime rate in the black areas of Ferguson? Also something that the mainstream press is not interested in finding out.

"Do Ferguson’s white and black drivers blast loud music from their cars at the same rate?" If you indignantly say "That's a stupid question," then, well, you've already sort of answered it.

But the most ubiquitous “Ferguson is racist” meme was the most familiar: the police force is too white. Four of Ferguson’s 53 officers are black. This imbalance must be the result of racism and must itself cause racist enforcement activity. How many qualified black applicants to the force applied and were rejected? Not an interesting question, apparently.

But interesting to me and other conservatives. Finding answers to these questions would be real journalism. We might even be able to coin a new term for that: Investigative Journalism. What a concept.

MacDonald's conclusion is chilling: "Whether or not an uncontested account of the incident will ever emerge, it is certain that the media spin on Ferguson itself has been driven by facile and ultimately dangerous preconceptions."

This is what real journalism looks like

Jason Mattera shows journalists how it's done. J-Carp, are you watching this?

"The disgraced bureaucrat Lois Lerner."

Hat tip Director Blue.

Two New Reviews

One of the casualties of the exciting Dante project which we are chronicling here is that the new proposed book will draw a lot of attention away from The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. This is really too bad; this monumental tome needs to be read and appreciated by all those interested in the life and times of Rod Dreher and will forever stand as an inadvertent exposé of his high self-regard, his vindictiveness against perceived enemies, his insufferable contempt for those not sharing his patchwork political ideology and his tendency to use other people as objects.

So it well to look at two recent reviews which are not meant to pan the book or dismiss it, and yet do not read like book-club cheerleader effervescence. They are also short and to the point, which is a positive feature in any review. The first was from August 13 by a reviewer named Kim Strong.

This book inspired me to want to love others more selflessly. Ruthie, though not perfect, was a good example of living the Christian life. I marked it down slightly for portraying her brother as a serious student of the Bible, but he didn't seem to grasp it well.

I suppose the author of the book might point out that, well, she has obviously bought into the idea that "there is no conflict between being a faithful Christian and living within the American system" unlike the enlightened Americans (of means) who are able to jet over to Florence for a cultural-political chinwag and have pictures taken of them putting food into their mouths. That's why Ms. Strong wouldn't recognize him as a student of the Bible as she (and practically all normal Christians) have understood it.

Here's the most recent one as of this moment, from September 12 by Bruce L. Taylor.

I know this is based on a true story so I wish the story of Ruthie's life would have told in more detail, emotions, etc. I wanted to know her better. We are told over and over what an amazing person she was but the personal touch was missing. I felt I never got to know her the way I wanted to so I could feel the difference she made in everyone's life. Something was missing in the story that I needed to draw me more personally into the story.

Something was missing. I agree; in fact, I'd point out that there was a lot missing from many of the episodes in the story that would have explained said episodes better. Oengus pointed that out about the bouillabaisse incident—that was the one about the time Rod made bouillabaisse at a family dinner and Ruthie not only refused to eat it, but persuaded everyone else in the family to abstain from it. Oengus spoke my thoughts in his comment:

I kept getting the feeling that RD had left out some critical piece of information which would have explained the motives that the other people had. It is easy for me to imagine that had I been there I would have come away with a different impression of why what happened happened.

I also remember pointing out somewhere that the first story in the book about Ruthie was missing something. This story—the first "proof" of her saintliness—was about how, when they were children, she wanted to take the punishment for something that her brother was about to be punished for. We're never told about the nature of the infraction because Dreher claims to have forgotten what it was. But I'm not so sure about this. It's nice to be the one to write history. Mr. Taylor's review received one comment.

I found that he was too wrapped up in his own experience which blocked his depicting Ruthie in a personal, real way. Perhaps that's what was missing?


Monday, October 6, 2014

Nolen's Mosque Teaches "Jihad for the Sake of Allah"

From an eyewitness to Islam. You can't trump this.

You can deny the authenticity of it, of course. But it all rings true and fits everything else we know about the inherent violence of Islamic teaching.

Smite at their necks (47:4).

"So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah - never will He waste their deeds."

He's not the only one who's unhappy

Speaking of "sad face"...

Gallup reports that voter opposition to Obama is at 16-year high.

On the Dante Trail trail: Shamed By Diane

After a quickie food pic revealing the sort of accommodations you're never going to enjoy in Italy, follower, as well as a coy tease of the mysterious Casella's slender right arm, finally a post not immediately wallowing in appetite and other narcissitic self-indulgence, one obviously a product of having been directly shamed into it by Diane. Which is only to say this, really: there were four pictures of art and architecture, allowing the tide of food and selfies to recede for the moment. For those who may be wagering in an office pool:

Total pics: 13 - 100%

Selfies: 7 - 39% of total

Things Rod Ate: 3 - 22% of total

Fear not. We are still following the same Rod. If you didn't know how devout he was, he's Johnny-on-the-spot  here ready to remind you he's one of the elect:

There were only about 30 people there in the side chapel; the cathedral only let people in who wanted to pray. I prayed before the relics of St. Zenobius (337-417), the first bishop of Florence, and again in front of the famed painting of Dante presenting the Commedia to Florence (it is much, much darker than the usual depictions).

But what's drehery devotion without the requisite intramural one-upmanship?

Earlier in the day we had been to mass. Casella and James C. are Catholic traditionalists. I couldn’t find an Orthodox liturgy around town, so I accompanied them. It was a beautiful mass, but it really made me feel how deeply Orthodox I have become liturgically.

Gee, what a shame Dante's Catholic Italy couldn't have been more appropriately Orthodox. But...oh, dear! Is Rod taking risks with his health as the price of taking us with him?

After a while, I began to feel a little dizzy, and had to step out for air. I walked around the block, looking to buy a bottle of water. I found one, then returned to the church and sat on the steps reading the Purgatorio, Canto 10.

Thank God he made it through that, and bless him for informing us of every beep in his health mood. Oh, he makes a brief comment about Dante, too. After the intestines are packed like sausages, that's what it's all about, you know. we go: like a Berkshire hog awkwardly tottering on his rear trotters, sheepishly trying to mumble his way through a Rosary while remnant slops dribble from his snout, Rod ensures we will not be bereft of a foodie peek:

We had lunch after mass, then gelato — fig and ricotta, black sesame, and pistachio for me — then picked up our tickets for the Uffizi.

But it's as a guide to the art he's experiencing for us, living the experience for us because we can't be there that he truly shines in this post. Here's the description, so richly nuanced with detail that only Rod can describe it this way:

The luminous genius of Botticelli and Michelangelo, in particular, defy my ability to describe. Eventually I just stopped trying to articulate to myself why these paintings were so great, and tried to allow myself to experience them directly....Eventually it’s too much. All that light and beauty is overwhelming.

Okay, sorry. I lied. Like most of the ideas he tries to take credit for articulating, he just fakes his way through this, too. Wouldn't "Wow!" have just been more honest and succinct?

And the takeaway from today's following of Rod following in Dante's footsteps on the Dante Trail trail: why, how Rod confronts his mid-life crisis head on, of course.

Heading toward 50, married to a woman who while she's aged tremendously from the post-teen he initially snagged is currently reveling in her biological prime, just having assumed another mortgage in a rural suburb whose locals forced him to delete his local blog - where, where can Peter escape to?

Back to youth, of course, back to the dreamy Never Never Land of all night college bull sessions:

Tonight James, Casella and I finished with dinner in our apartment. We ate good Italian food and drank good Italian wine and listened to Sidney Bechet, and then Louis Armstrong, and talked about God and Dante and Florence. Stepping into the kitchen to get more water for the table, I thought that this is the kind of moment I dreamed of when I was younger — a night like this, filled with friendship, music, food, and conversation about ideas.

We aren't really on the trail of Dante here at all, followers, we're on the trail of Rod's youth, fleeing him ever more rapidly with each passing month. Adulthood and its responsibilities will be left to Mrs. Dreher, back home where she belongs.

Oh, but he did give a beggar woman a few coins, so there's that.

Will that be enough to save our spiky-haired Pan once Italy is behind him, after he's back, marooned in rural Louisiana with a woman in her prime ten years younger and the kids' college depending on him selling the Dante book he'll still have to write? We'll just have to wait and see.