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Merry Christmas!

[Tiepolo - Visit of the Magi]

The "ten books" meme

I’m usually too unsocial to participate in blogging memes, but the idea of listing the ten books I’ve been most influenced by caught my attention. In a carping world we should express gratitude now and then, and if you want people to read your stuff it seems civil to offer a little background on where you get it. So here’s my list, in the order read:

  • Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. I read it when I was a college freshman, and it opened up new vistas of non-technocratic thought. It’s the only book of the ten I read in connection with a course.


I got a note from an editor of Contemporary Authors, a reference work that lists 130,000 people who managed to get something published. They want to include me. Among other things the note asked some questions that were supposed to add up to a statement about why, how, and what I write. Here’s my response, if anyone’s interested:


Is techno-transhumanism our future?

At the ISI Conference I spoke at in November a student asked me whether reliance on tradition will continue to make sense if genetic engineering makes human nature more malleable.


Book out

My book, The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command, is now available in paperback at Amazon. I suppose the hardcover version should be available soon as well.


In honor of the season ...

[Nativity, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, c. 1465]

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Amazing scientific fact of the day

I thought I’d mention this, even though it’s irrelevant to this weblog, because you gotta know about it: in Utah 15 years ago they detected a cosmic ray—a fast-moving proton—that hit the earth or rather upper atmosphere with a kinetic energy equal to that of a well-thrown baseball. To pack that kind of wallop it had to be going at almost the speed of light, where “almost” means that in a year a beam of light would have outrun it by only 2 millionths of an inch.


Otherwise ...

We dropped by a market this evening to pick up some milk, and my wife noticed a blurb on boxes of Diet Coke:

Who knew soft drinks could be hydrating?

Who knew that “hydration” was supposed to be so special? Or that “self-involved airhead” is now a major market demographic?


Something completely different ...

My publisher tells me they want my book to be a bit more coherent and a little less vague, so I’m busily unscrambling arguments, tightening up prose, and adding examples and such. As a result, posting is likely to be sporadic for a while.


Noted elsewhere

Worth a look:


For Christmas Eve ...

Duerer Nativity
Merry Christmas from Turnabout!


To all our readers

A Very Merry Christmas!


Historia ecclesiae (Tarikh-ul-kalisa?) in NYC

Those in the NYC area interested in Catholicism should know about John Rao’s lectures on Church history. He’s thoughtful and knowledgeable, and it’s the second time he’s given the series (last time the complete cycle was 12 years, this time it’ll be longer), so there’s some substance there. Also, you get really good cheese and not bad wine after the lecture and before the Q & A. It’s Sundays at the NYU Catholic Center, which occasionally has some issues (last lecture we got bumped from our usual room for some reason and ended up in the chapel with no air conditioning) but hey, that puts you on the front line where it’s all happening today I suppose. Anyway, the lectures are highly recommended.


Culture, geopolitics and religion

Homage to the worst movie I’ve ever seen, combined with a history of the Vatican space program. How can you go wrong?


A poetickal diversion

Here’s a poem I’ve always been fond of that’s not my favorite but I was thinking about it today:

An Immorality (Ezra Pound)

Sing we for love and idleness,
Naught else is worth the having.
Though I have been in many a land,
There is naught else in living.
And I would rather have my sweet,
Though rose-leaves die of grieving,
Than do high deeds in Hungary
To pass all men’s believing.


Another little-known fact

According to Steve Sailer, Wite-out was invented by the mother of Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. (Is this the place to mention that F. A. Hayek was Ludwig Wittgenstein’s cousin? I’m not sure whether it was first cousin or what. And I once had a teacher who was some sort of cousin of Gertrude Stein and a college friend who was S. J. Perelman’s nephew and Goldie Hawn’s cousin.)


Little-known fact

Little known to me, anyway: it turns out that Anna Leonowens of King and I fame was Boris Karloff’s great aunt.


Dates and crusades

A fascinating story: someone is said to have sprouted a date seed unearthed at Masada, from a date eaten during the siege there almost 2,000 years ago. It appears that 500-year-old seeds had been sprouted in England, and 1200-year old seeds in China, but this would be the first 2,000-year-old seed.


Things past

Random findings of tangential culture-war relevance: the Aztecs really did engage in torture, human sacrifice and cannibalism, just like the Spaniards said, and carbon-14 tests did not show the Shroud of Turin is a Medieval fake (the tests were botched, and it now appears the Shroud is between 1300 and 3000 years old.) The first finding is no surprise.


In Blogland

Things run into here and there:

  • David Burge, the Iowahawk, has an amusing bit on the Rathergate report that takes off on ’40s crime fiction. (You can also look at his Dan Rather/Wile E. Coyote piece if you’re familiar with the cartoon series.)
  • On the Rathergate report itself, PowerLine has a discussion that brings out the lengths to which the oh-so-boringly-establishment CBS review panel was willing to go to avoid reaching disruptive conclusions (like finding that supremely respectable and well-connected people and institutions that are typically on the right side of all issues and whose enemies aren’t so respectable were involved in actual fraud).


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