Mar 202015

There’s some sort of kerfuffle amongst the barbarians because some Italian clothing makers deviated from the party line and wound up some Brit pop singer who reflexively called “Boycott!”  Now it’s the easiest thing in the world for me to boycott these guy’s clothing – I’m no where near their target audience or for that matter, size – just as I wouldn’t voluntarily listen to the singer’s product.  But why on earth we should be expected to look to either for moral instruction is beyond me.  Even more mysterious, that they should expect us to.

 Posted by at 7:13 am
Mar 172015

A  very little thought, maybe.  I’ve been reading The Everlasting Man for the first time in ages.  I’m struck by two things.  First, that criticisms and complaints haven’t changed much since Chesterton wrote.  Second, that it might be interesting to read this very closely along with CSL’s The Abolition of Man.  Three things.  Third, that it might be very interesting to use these two books as texts for a discussion with a group of, say, 18- to-20-year-olds, to learn what equipment they bring.  Hmm.

 Posted by at 7:35 am
Mar 162015

I’ll be 65 soon, if I live so long. Days, not weeks.

I retired almost a decade ago from an increasingly uncongenial job. It seemed reasonable. Our daughter was starting high school. I would spend half the day tending to house and garden, and half the day writing. The burden on my wife would lessen, she could pay better attention to her teaching, and maybe even resume her research. Someone would be around the house all the time, and, who knows? Maybe I’d sell something.

Didn’t work that way.

It was a gaudy adolescence.

The first half of the decade was full of alarms and events. The second half has been dominated by being founder, CEO, and sole employee of Gaffer Day Care – and by alarms and events.

Writing? Fits and starts, but mostly stops. By actual count, close to 50% of my waking hours have been spent driving people around, buying or preparing groceries, or putting out fires. Reading and writing? Occasional. Fragments of story are knee deep, but they will be kindling without some changes.

Kindergarten looms in August: a phase change for all of us, maybe even the dog. Quite a bit of time returns to my control. Can I use it effectively? Preparing for change begins now, a long slow ramp up. I hope. Or an embarrassing flop.

What will it be?

 Posted by at 2:31 pm
Nov 102014

After Saturday’s unusual football game “against” Michigan, I find it best to heed the Psalmist’s advice against anger. Let us say, then, that the two teams put on a diverting demonstration of how not to play football. The game included many amusing moments, including a snap that bounced off the Michigan motion guy’s leg, a completely blown hand off, a muffed punt, a blocked field goal or two, and a third quarter clinic by the NU offensive line on how not to block for the quarterback. Masters of physical comedy seem to have served as Guest Offensive Coordinators of the week for the two teams, possibly John Cleese for Michigan and Max Sennett for NU. We did not, however, behold the week’s most comical performance by a CFB player, this chap at Utah who forgot where the goal line is.

NU will probably get the most heat on fan sites, though I will avoid the Michigan ones for a bit. Brady Hoke is widely regarded as a soon to be ex-coach, and may as well trade his maize-and-blue for Star Trek red. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald has always had his critics, of course, some quite raucous. Those critics are now reaching a pitch of frothing excitement unseen since, well, the darkest days of John Pont, Rick Venturi, and Dennis Green.

Not being a clinical football guy as such (my rule of thumb, “Good teams win more than they lose, and bad teams lose more than they win,” is servicable but not diagnostic), I can’t begin to guess what’s going on. Certainly, a malaise has settled over the team since in the last year. Given the recent performance of the Chicago Bears, the malaise may be a field effect that is related to Lake Michigan. The effect does not seem to reach as far as DeKalb. I hope that top research teams will begin investigating this possibility soon.

NU’s offensive line seems particularly affected; the young men are large, reasonably coordinated, and seem sufficiently athletic for the task. None are manifest cripples.  Experts can speculate.   I suspect that, in a mistaken effort to ensure that our opponents cannot penetrate the secrets of NU’s blocking schemes, they receive their instructions in Sanskrit, a language in which not even NU O-linemen are fluent.

The remainder of the year looks grim; if next week’s adventure with Notre Dame goes poorly, I may adopt a noir-ish persona in commenting. Massacre in South Bend comes to mind.

 Posted by at 6:24 am
Nov 062014

Lemme tell you some things about Illinois.

The economy is in the tank and has been for years.
Taxes are high.
So is unemployment.
Our government looks like a boa constrictor that swallowed a sheep.
Too many of our politicians have been the larval form of “felon.”


On this last election day, a day when the Heffalump Party made well-nigh historic gains across the electoral board, but especially in state legislatures, the Heffalump candidate for Governor of Illinois managed to collect just barely over 50% of the votes cast. The Heffalumps managed to not even slightly dent the vast majorities controlled by Illinois Speaker of the House Emperor Palpatine Mike Madigan and Illinois Senate President Darth Vader John Cullerton. Not. A. Dent.

The Governor Elect, Bruce Rauner, is a rich guy who ran a pretty bruising campaign. He sometimes gets a deer-in-the-headlights look when policy questions come flying at him, but he showed a bit of the brawler in his campaign. He’ll need it to go toe-to-toe with Madigan and Cullerton.

But he’s already muttering about taxes, and not about cutting them. Now that, without first establishing a record as a parsimonious S.O.B. who has razored every unnecessary expense out of the budget, has worked to get Illinois out of the bond market, is a one way ticket to Onetermsville. Same old, same old. He’s in for a 4 year brawl if he wants to reform this place.

 Posted by at 11:07 am
Jul 282014

It seems that a lot of folks are not too happy with the President.  His tendency to try to rule by decree (they’re called “Executive Orders” now), his reluctance to actual deal with Congress (part of the job), and his deer-in-the-headlights approach to foreign affairs (hint:  Vladimir Putin is NOT AN AMERICAN “PROGRESSIVE.”  No sir, not one bit) seems to be wearing folks down.  All of this was utterly predictable.  The President’s political background is entirely within the strange world of the Illinois Democratic Party, and specifically Chicago, where the Mayor rules, the City Council approves, and everyone shares the moola.  As a state senator, his job was to do what he was told, which he did quite well.  It’s not a world where one has to engage other powerful leaders, negotiate, listen, and compromise.  Lousy training for the Presidency.

 Posted by at 7:13 am
Apr 302014

I am sitting at my writing station, looking toward the garage over a long bed full of daffodils.  I look east, where the sun in rising.  It’s a golden sunrise, pouring through bands of grey clouds touched with cream on their eastern edges.  Overhead, the clouds are solid, but rough-bottomed, the lower ruffles variously cream and very faint pink.  We are still mostly leafless; the trees are weeks behind the norm.

After the snow melted, after the air had begun to warm, I feared I had lost as many as 17  roses to the bitter winter, even the 23 year old Constance Spry at one corner of the house, an immense rose – even the unkillable Dr. Van Fleet that came as a cutting from my father-in-law.  The roses had not only the bitter cold and the three months of snow cover to deal with, but also rabbitty predations, with bark stripped up to three feet above ground level.  But now, life seems to be creeping back into some of those dead canes.  The mortality is still considerable, but I’ll take my time uprooting the losses.  Where buds start on the old canes, I’ll prune back and suppresses bloom this year – no matter what happens, it won’t be a very rosy summer.

The mortality amongst the herby perennials is harder to guess.  The clematis seems gone.  The peonies were reluctant to start but are moving right along now.  Some of the hosta have vanished, simply vanished, and in others the center of the root mass seems to have died but left behind the orbiting daughters.  Even in the depths of winter dormancy, I believe, there is a certain amount of sleepy metabolism that goes on below ground.  I suspect that the icy conditions reduced the oxygen exchange down at ground level, but maybe I’m guessing through my hat.  I’ve been thinking of converting the garden to daylilies, coneflower, phlox, and carefully selected hardy roses, maybe concentrating on the wonderful Griffith Buck roses that need little care beyond food.  The coneflowers don’t seem to have made it, though.  Gonna be a slow replanting.

 Posted by at 8:05 am