‘Cultural Observations’ Archive

The Tastes of our Southern Neighbors, and our Housing Issues February 3, 2018 No Comments

Instead of Berbers, ‘Arabs’, Turks, and other Muslim groups, we have to our south Mexico.  Maybe we could consider ourselves relatively fortunate because of this.  The best book in English on Mexican culture in recent times that I know of is Mañana Forever? by Jorge Castañeda.  In the last part of his first chapter, he […]

Suggestions for the Democratic Party, Part 2:  The Housing Issue March 29, 2017 1 Comment

I just put out a post on the weaknesses and inconsistencies of the Democratic Party, and then realized that I had omitted one issue that is close to our heart here at Blue Kennel.  I refer to, of course, the issue of housing.  Jed Kolko and Derek Thompson discovered that the housing crunch was most severe in […]

Is it Time for Northern Country Music? December 13, 2016 No Comments

A few years ago I did a post on how country music seemed to have a Southern bias.  Well, Donald Federikovich Trump owes his victory to the northern counterpart of rednecks, whatever they are called, that won him the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which, as I said before, were last carried by a Republican […]

The Religious Right Failed to See What Was Coming August 29, 2016 No Comments

We have repeated Francis Schaeffer’s warning about ‘personal peace and affluence’ often at Blue Kennel, but it’s time to do it again.  He declared, back about 1970, that the ‘Silent Majority’, a term Nixon had begun to use, was composed of two parts; a minority within the Silent Majority that was either Christian or had […]

Authoritarianism is a Hot Subject Nowadays July 22, 2016 No Comments

There is a lot of intellectual fuss about ‘authoritarianism’ nowadays, because of the rise of Donald Trump and what appears to be the overthrow of traditional ‘fusion’ conservatism.  A long essay by Amanda Taub in “Vox” is the most thorough discussion of this phenomenon that I have found.  In it she quotes a vast number […]

The Adams Map: A Different Spectrum, A Challenge – Part 2 June 28, 2016 No Comments

It occurs to me that Adams anticipates Trump.  However, when I wrote this I thought the people on the lower left corner weren’t going to turn out to vote.  Therefore the culture wars between the upper left and lower right were going to continue.  I may have been wrong.

Richard Nixon: A Precedent for Donald Trump? June 12, 2016 No Comments

It occurred to me that a possible precedent for Donald Trump might be none other than Richard Nixon.  Now I think that Nixon was a far more intelligent man than Trump, and, for all his sins, a person of superior moral character to Trump.  [Nixon’s most serious moral failing was deciding to cover up the […]

Andrew Sullivan on Trump and Tyranny: A Response June 1, 2016 No Comments

Andrew Sullivan, having retired from blogging and writing after first giving us the idea of same sex marriage and then being lambasted by his followers for wanting to be tolerant to their enemies who lost over that particular issue, has returned to the public square, inspired by Donald Trump.  His long essay in New York […]

Polynesian Paralysis, or the Vetocracy at Work February 15, 2016 1 Comment

Among its other oddities, Hawaii has no water level travel between its islands.  If the inhabitants of four out of the five counties should wish to travel to Honolulu, they have to fly in a small plane and rent another car when they get there.  And the same applies to people from Honolulu wanting to […]

Face, Respect, the Sin of Gossip, and ‘Freedom From Speech’ February 8, 2016 No Comments

The debate about ‘freedom from speech’ has accelerated.  Greg Lukianoff, author of the Freedom from Speech broadside, has cooperated with Jonathan Haidt, an author I have quoted on Blue Kennel to write an article for The Atlantic criticizing the concept of ‘freedom from speech’ and its negative impacts on mental health.  And I have done a […]

Christians May be Decreasing in Number in America, But Not Because of any ‘War’ December 30, 2015 No Comments

Jay Michaelson, in The Daily Beast, proclaimed on Christmas Day that there is a decrease in the numbers and influence of Christians in America, but that the “war” on Christianity is a myth.  I’m not sure the war on Christianity is a myth, but it’s not the cause of our problems, and to the extent […]

More on the Whole ‘Judeo-Christian’ Meme December 2, 2015 No Comments

In my post four years ago, “9/11, Ten Years Later” I talked a little bit about the concept of ‘Judeo-Christian’.  I’d like to expand on it.  As my source says, the meme ‘Judeo-Christian’ originated in the United States after World War II, partly in response to the Holocaust, partly in recognition that Jews were still unjustly […]

Camel Driver to Taxi Drivers November 30, 2015 No Comments

The Prophet Muhammad started out as a camel driver, and apparently varieties of the name are now the most common first name for taxi drivers in New York City.

The Irrational Jacket September 18, 2015 No Comments

There has been a spate of articles recently about the strength of air conditioning in offices and the fact that women are often freezing in temperatures that men are barely comfortable in.  Even before you take into account the differing wardrobes, women generally like the temperature slightly higher than men anyhow. But the normal business and […]

‘Christian Colleges’ for The Heathen? July 18, 2015 2 Comments

There has been plenty of publicity about “political correctness” on campus and on the extreme sensitivity of today’s generation to “microaggressions”.  I posted “Freedom From Speech” not long ago, getting that title from Greg Lukianoff”s book of that name.  I modestly propose to divide American secular colleges and universities into two kinds, to deal with this […]

Some Things People Can’t See or Understand Anymore July 14, 2015 1 Comment

In my last post I wrote about how the secular mind can no longer understand the difference between ‘forgiveness’ and ‘tolerance-acceptance-inclusion’.  Things like this are not a surprise; in 1Corinthians 2:14, Paul informs us that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and […]

Forgiveness and ‘Tolerance’ in Charleston July 6, 2015 No Comments

There has been some coverage about the ‘forgiveness’ offered to Dylann Roof by some of the Christian parishioners of Emanuel AME church that survived his attack.  Matt Schiavenza in the The Atlantic describes this. [For some other responses as to why people do or do not forgive Mr. Roof, which I have not had time to […]

150 Years Later, People are Getting All Excited About the Confederate Flag June 27, 2015 No Comments

Recently, a young racist terrorist shot a bunch of people in one of Charleston’s historic black churches.  This kind of stuff happens.  But it has aroused a whole new controversy about the Confederate flag, a century and a half after the supposed country it represents was crushed!  Someone has recently proposed that a school in […]

Before Generalizing about American Culture, Travel a Bit April 1, 2015 No Comments

David Bosworth, author of the new The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America:  The Moral Origins of the Great Recession, writes about the effect of constant cyberspace and television on the American character.  But is there anything distinctly American about this? I am, at this moment, in Ethiopia, in a country that in the 1970s […]

The Upper Middle Class Versus the 1%? February 3, 2015 No Comments

Matt Miller, Californian commentator, comments in his book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas that it probably will be the upper middle class, or ‘lower upper’ as he calls it, that will lead the opposition to the so called 1%, and that they have the clout to do it.  He starts quoting Richard Hofstadter and the […]

C.S. Lewis and the World of Modern Technology January 22, 2015 No Comments

C.S. Lewis, in his important apologetic work The Problem of Pain, tried to envision an alternative pain-free universe [Chapter 2]: The permanent nature of wood which enables us to use it as a beam also enables us to use it for hitting our neighbour on the head. . . . We can, perhaps, conceive of […]

The Strange American Inversion of the Liturgical Year January 6, 2015 No Comments

Historically in Christian liturgy, Advent was supposed to be a sort of penitential time, a little Lent leading up to Christmas, as Lent led up to Easter. Anglican hymnbooks have an Advent section and a Christmas section. Songs like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” are in the Advent section; most major Christmas carols, from “Silent […]

Valentine’s Day Carols? And Other Observations December 25, 2014 No Comments

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers. As usual, what Americans call ‘The Holidays’ is an odd mix, especially in the special music now played.  What are effectively Gospel carols [especially if they sing all the verses] invade the public square in a way that would be unthinkable and promote […]

If I Were Muslim: Why Do Muslims Hate Jews Nowadays? December 3, 2014 No Comments

Our friend Hillel Fradkin has sent out a fascinating article on the relationship between Islam and German nationalism.  In two world wars both types of German nationalists, both the relatively mild sort of the Second Reich and the pathological ones of the Third, hoped that the more manly faith of Islam would come to their […]

Hasn’t it Always Been Babylon? November 15, 2014 No Comments

Rod Dreher, one of our favorites on this site, has written a column called “From Israel to Babylon” of which the sources are largely drawn from the Southern Baptists.  The younger Southern Baptists expect to be a religious minority, which, of course, they are.  To quote Ryan Booth, “Older Southern Baptists are more likely to […]

Now, Even Apartment Dwellers are Getting Choosy about their Neighbors November 13, 2014 No Comments

It has been known for a long time that homeowners have wanted to control who their neighbors are.  In the past it was race; now it is for income and for how they might use their property, and often for culture.  The best book I have found on this is almost 40 years old and […]

Suppose We Applied Some of the Theories of Today to the Culture Wars of 90 Years Ago? October 8, 2014 No Comments

Wesley J. Smith warns us that the ACLU is now maintaining that the rights of access of people to not only abortion but Death with Dignity should override the rights of physicians, pharmacists, and health care workers to conscientious objection regarding abortion and, in the states that have it, ‘Death with Dignity’ (i.e., assisted suicide).  And […]

The Residential College Experience and New Urbanism October 7, 2014 No Comments

Matthew Gerken, in Philanthropy Daily, has a nice essay entitled “Why We Love College.”  For all the problems with the American university experience – they’re not preparing the kids for jobs! – they’re not preparing the kids for anything but jobs! – those who have the residential college experience [and I would remind Mr Gerken […]

‘Beach People’ vs ‘Brunch People’ – the Eternal Struggle September 12, 2014 No Comments

I have concluded that there are two kinds of people, ‘beach people’ and ‘brunch people’.  The first are those that like outdoor activities; the second are those that like to sit in one place for hours and read, or study, or converse.  And I think they have a tendency to marry each other. My wife […]

If 65 is the New 45, is 20 the New 13? September 4, 2014 No Comments

Anna Sutherland, in, Family Studies, points out that teenagers are getting less risky in their behavior nowadays; they are drinking less alcohol, and actually having less sex, not just less unprotected sex.  [In fact, the average young person today is more likely to have smoked marijuana than tobacco.]  Is a lot of this to be […]

The Adams Map: A Different Spectrum, A Challenge August 29, 2014 No Comments

Michael Adams’ 2005 book, American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States, got little attention in the States.  In fact, since he is a Canadian author, only used copies can be found on the regular amazon.com, whereas new copies can actually be found on the Canadian version, amazon.ca.  I found Adams’ […]

Agrarianism Without Agriculture? August 8, 2014 No Comments

The ever-surprising Ralph Nader has recently been reading some paleo-conservative sources, and has written a book entitled Unstoppable; the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.  In the acknowledgements at the end, he specifically thanks Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative think tank, for keeping in print a tome from the 1930s called Who Owns […]

Art Epiphany, Part II: the Millennium Bridge August 2, 2014 No Comments

I write this, and the previous post, from London.  One of the newer features of the city, finished in 2000 [opened for two days, shut down for repairs, and reopened in 2002], is a pedestrian bridge called Millennium Bridge.  It connects two major institutions.  At the south end is the great art museum called Tate […]

My Great Art Epiphany of 1995 July 31, 2014 No Comments

I think I must have read, somewhere before 1995, that arts institutions were taking the place of religious institutions among the upper classes of this country.  But it did not stick with me until an important epiphany I had in 1995. It happened that in August of 1995, I was in Seattle with my family, […]

Michael Lind’s New Paradigm, and the ‘End’ of Social Conservatism July 6, 2014 No Comments

Michael Lind has released a new essay titled “The Coming Realignment” in The Breakthrough Journal, one of the most innovative magazines around today.  He predicts that social conservatism as we know it will fade away, but that we will not have a political consensus; there will be two camps, one he calls “liberaltarian” based in […]

Why June 28, 2014, is a Really Big Anniversary June 26, 2014 No Comments

First of all, it is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke (i.e., Crown Prince) Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.  This led, of course, to the Great War and a series of wars and cold wars that lasted for much of the 20th century and in my view effectively brought ‘Christendom’ in the West, already very thin […]

Some Bleats About the ‘Common Good’ No Comments

James Davidson Hunter is doing commendable work trying to restore the interest, of Christians especially, in the ‘common good.’  Not a bad thing, but first we have to think about what the ‘common good’ is. 1.  First of all, we must recognize that in any ‘community’ there is a tendency for the ‘common good’, or […]

Pansies April 7, 2014 No Comments

Why are pansies associated with unmanliness and deviation from heteronormativity?  They are some of the hardiest flowers there are.  When I took this picture the temperature in Washington D.C. had risen to a high of 34F (1C) and they have been blooming for some time, as opposed to the cherry blossoms, which have not shown […]

Academics, Politics, and Business February 28, 2014 No Comments

David Brooks has written a fascinating essay on how self-presentation in politics is very different from that in the academic world, and how Michael Ignatieff came to grief in Canada finding this out the hard way. I don’t feel the need to comment further on politics here, but I wish Brooks had written about a […]

It’s a Consensus World, After All? February 25, 2014 No Comments

We often speak of our era as a very polarized age.  I will demur.  First, I remember 1968 in America, and the polarization and hate between cultures then was a lot worse than it is now, with actual riots and shootings. Watts, Chicago, and Kent State hardly represented a more peaceable world than now.  Second, […]

The Last Freedom (and its Relationship to the First) February 18, 2014 No Comments

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World seems, for the most part, to be closer to the future we are facing in the West than George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  I do think that parts of Orwell’s vision are still important, however; in particular the appendix to Nineteen Eighty-Four on Newspeak and Orwell’s essay on “Politics and the English […]

After a Century, Why is the San Francisco Bay Area Kicking our Butt Now? February 2, 2014 No Comments

I was young in the early Sixties, when the cultural rivalry between Los Angeles and San Francisco was strong and active. Jack Smith, for Los Angeles, and Herb Caen, for San Francisco, used to feud regularly in their newspaper columns and entertain the public with the North-South rivalry. Los Angeles, since about the time of […]

The Late Chaim Potok and the 2012 Election January 4, 2014 No Comments

My apologies for my long silence.  I was gone for five weeks, mainly on my wife’s business, but the last portion of the trip was a journey through the north of Greece looking mostly at painted churches.  I should start posting from the road, though I have no desire to compete necessarily with my wife’s […]

After Jesus, A Better World December 20, 2013 No Comments

Mark Judge, a Roman Catholic writer, has, just in time for Christmas, given us his version of why the coming of Jesus into the world was an improvement.  Judge quotes the former pope Benedict XVI as saying that the ancient Greeks “considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a […]

An Interesting Twist on “It’s a Wonderful Life” April 15, 2013 No Comments

In view of the recently released book Building Home and the upcoming conference No Place Like Home here’s an interesting twist on the famous film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  The author seems to like Potterville better.  I don’t think I do, because it seems to me a place filled with vice. But some people prefer that. Related: […]

Nashville: The Nation’s New ‘It’ City April 12, 2013 No Comments

Well, Nashville has been the nation’s third media city – and that in regard to book publishing, not just music – for at least 40 years!  It is the one red-state place where someone leaving Hollywood would feel reasonably comfortable. In Response to: “Nashville’s Latest Big Hit Could Be the City Itself” by Some at […]

Last Call in California March 20, 2013 2 Comments

Huh? It would make a lot more sense, automobile-dependent as California still is, to keep the alcohol closing hour at 2 a.m. and insist that Starbucks and other coffee houses stay open till 4 a.m. If I went pub-crawling in a place I had to drive home from, I’d like [for the safety of the […]

Thoughts on St. Patrick’s Day March 14, 2013 1 Comment

In a few days comes one of the strangest holidays in our American calendar, in which we honor a saint who actually deserves honoring or remembering, and at the same time the first major non-Protestant ethnic group to come to our shores voluntarily. St. Patrick was not Irish, but ‘British’ [which really means Latin speaking […]

Is Hawai’i the Bellwether for California? February 20, 2013 1 Comment

California used to consider itself the leading state and the bellwether for the entire country.  Now that the entrepreneurial initiative has mostly switched to Texas and other such places, and Texas’s infrastructure has pulled ahead of California’s in its quality [I lived in Texas in the 1970s, and it was not so then!], California is, […]

Respect For Women, Respect for Property, Social Compassion: The Real Proof of the Pudding January 30, 2013 2 Comments

There has been a lot of international notoriety about some gang rapes in India.  I don’t know how many they have had in the past, but many of the women have had it.  The attached in the Wall Street Journal, by an Indian man himself, wonders why India is so violent.  Well, there has always […]

Why Social Conservatives are Still Needed December 26, 2012 1 Comment

David Frum, who has written an e-book called While Romney Lost, says here that social conservatives [for which read Christians] are still useful, because they are the ones more likely to call attention to inequality and the declining living standard of the working class. I appreciate this. In response to: “Social Conservatives: We Need You!” […]

On the Inhabitants of LA and CA December 24, 2012 No Comments

From Derek Sivers, one of the best descriptions of Los Angeles life I’ve ever read, and a lot of it applies to Orange County, even though the OC is not so much a center of the entertainment industry.  [Before the crash of 1990; The Industry in Orange County was real estate development; it was to […]

On Derek Sivers on Smart People December 22, 2012 No Comments

I have discovered a few wise sayings in the website of one Derek Sivers.  This one is, “Smart People Don’t Think Others Are Stupid.”  This is helpful to me.  There are quite a few things I know that most people don’t know, and talents I have, like reading paper maps, that a lot of people […]

Science Under Attack, and Not From the Christians and Muslims Either November 8, 2012 No Comments

Alex R. Berezow informs us that not the American ‘red states’, but Italy, have become a troubled land for science.  Some scientists were sent to prison for six years for failing to predict an earthquake; and I thought some of our Bronx juries and trial lawyers were bad, but they’ve never done anything quite like […]

Marc Andreessen: For Most of Us, It Will Get Worse October 29, 2012 No Comments

Jesus said, “The master replied,`I say to you that everyone who has will be given more, but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away”.”  [Luke 19:26, Common English Version] Jesus was, given His other sayings, not talking about the economic world He desired, but on the one hand of […]

Is it Now Cool to Bully? October 25, 2012 No Comments

I was bullied on occasion up through my freshman year in high school, but never, as far as I could tell, by the most popular kids.  In elementary school the one bully that I encountered was overweight and socially more isolated than me.  My junior high school was pretty large, and I never figured out […]

Little Europe? September 19, 2012 1 Comment

The coastal strip west of the Cascades, including the large cities of Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland, has a very similar climate to that of Western Europe away from the Mediterranean.  The area is much smaller; a drive from Seattle to Spokane is less than five hours, but takes you from the climate of London to […]

Portland Public Loos Are The Best September 12, 2012 No Comments

Here’s an article from The Atlantic Cities explaining why Portland, Oregon’s, public loos are the best. In response to: “Why Portland’s Public Toilets Succeeded Where Others Failed” by John Metcalfe at The Atlantic Cities

How Much Does Immigration Change Character? September 10, 2012 No Comments

I am opposed to immigrant bashing. But we all bring ourselves and our deficiencies with us wherever we go. The Latinos are not the first immigrants to flock to California only to find they had brought their old selves along with them; and they will not be the last. In response to: “Mexico’s challenge: for […]

The New Spirituality of ‘Connectedness’ August 15, 2012 2 Comments

Most of us nowadays can probably recognize what this spaghetti of wires that I have photographed here is. Without it, my laptop, my iPad, and my phone will be useless pieces of metal in a day or two, though my Kindle may last, oddly enough, several weeks. And it is important to note that that […]

Melinda’s Choice Crusade for Women: Breaking the Planned Parenthood Monopoly? June 22, 2012 1 Comment

I read here that Melinda Gates has decided that ‘birth control’ and ‘family planning’ are important.  On the one hand, I have a lot of concern about the ‘contraceptive culture’ and the impact of separating the way we make babies from the actual matter of making babies.  [Full disclosure:  we did use those things in […]

The Rise of Redneck Stand-up Paddleboarding June 15, 2012 No Comments

[Props to my co-parishioner Miles Stoudenmire for coming up with these pictures.] It appears, from the evidence of these pictures, that the SUP culture can harmonize with the huntin’ and fishin’ culture of the rednecks and their northern counterparts.  [The site he got them from is in Florida, so strictly speaking these are Florida Crackers, […]


Recently it was revealed in a column by Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish liberal Muslim, that Newt Gingrich is a fan of none other than Mustafa Kemal Atatuerk. Say what? Kemal Atatuerk was one of the most radical secularists of the 20th century outside of the Communist world itself. Ruling Turkey from 1923 to 1939, he […]

Stealth Democracy: A Summary of the Thesis of John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse February 22, 2012 1 Comment

It was fashionable in the sixties to talk of ‘participatory democracy.’  But John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, claim, on the basis of much research and reading, that that is exactly what the people at large want to avoid.  Rather, what they want could be best described as […]

Marijuana In Public Spaces February 9, 2012 1 Comment

While I find the odor of marijuana a little less offensive than that of tobacco, a lot of people don’t, and I think the same standard should be applied to marijuana in public spaces as to tobacco. Related: “Marijuana dropped from Marin smoking ban,” by Nels Johnson, MercuryNews.com

The Suburban Paradox January 17, 2012 No Comments

The attached article criticizes the effect of ‘greenbelts’ in Britain, and calls for ‘green patches’ instead of ‘green belts.’  The paradox is that a lot of what people move out to the suburbs for is precisely what these anti-suburban NIMBYs are trying to protect.  And, more to the point, when people do move out to […]

Popular Music: The Ancients and the Moderns January 12, 2012 No Comments

In eighteenth century Europe, one of the favorite intellectual debates was the Debate of the Ancients and the Moderns, whether Europe had now exceeded the greatness of the Greco-Roman era or had not yet done so. There is a similar debate about popular music at any given time nowadays. The Wall Street Journal writer Jim […]

Will Riverside, Fresno, and Bakersfield Become Civilized? December 15, 2011 1 Comment

Joel Kotkin and William Frey, in an article written before the crash, speculate that as Coastal California prices itself out of the market, Inland California may become a more civilized and upscale region.  In fact, the crash and the wave of foreclosures hit Inland California the hardest, while making the coast [much to the discomfiture […]

Christmas and Steven Pinker’s Decline of Violence December 11, 2011 1 Comment

A few months ago biologist Steven Pinker released a paper (Article 1, Article 2) and a book claiming that despite 9/11, Rwanda, and other such events, violence is actually declining in the world. He rebukes the myth of the ‘noble savage’ by pointing out that most savages and our pre-civilized ancestors were incredibly violent. He […]

9/11, Ten Years Later November 1, 2011 2 Comments

When the 9/11 attacks happened, ten years ago, we knew that we didn’t like it.  But we in the Western World were forced to think about the delicate question of, if we were against this, what were we for?  Were we defending the older Western Christendom?  Or were we defending a new order that entailed […]

The Motivation of Conservatives and Liberals July 19, 2011 2 Comments

In Gareth Cook’s article the psychologist Jonathan Haidt, following Romans 1, suggests that there are five inborn ‘instinctive’ virtues that humans recognize, though they do not always live up to, of course. These are:  i. fairness, ii. not harming others, iii. loyalty to one’s group, iv. respecting authority, and v. purity [I am not sure what this […]

If a picture beats a thousand words… July 5, 2011 1 Comment

If a picture beats a thousand words, how come so many art commenters can get two thousand words out of every picture?  

No, Hal Lindsey did not discover the Book of Revelation June 24, 2011 No Comments

One of the blessings of being dragged across Europe frequently is that you learn that medieval and Renassance people did read their Bibles and use them in art work. Yes, they added things, like a whole biography of Mary and many saints stories, and many legends about people like Joseph of Arimathea traveling westward with […]

Beyond Red vs. Blue May 18, 2011 No Comments

Interesting. I scored New Coalition Democrat, not conventional liberal. Related: “Beyond Red vs. Blue” at PewResearchCenter

Different Kinds of Freedom April 9, 2011 No Comments

Here is a quotation from Aldous Huxley’s 1946 foreword to Brave New World: “As political or economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase.  And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom.  In conjunction with the freedom […]

An Amazing Millay Sonnet March 29, 2011 1 Comment

This sonnet by Edna St Vincent Millay has, for some reason, been sitting on my desk for a year or so, and I just found it. Keep in mind that it was written in 1939, thirty years before men actually landed on the moon, and the sonnet, among other things, predicts that event. But in […]

Chinese Parenting, Part II: Why Chinese Mothers are Superior January 29, 2011 1 Comment

Here is David Brooks defending the upper middle class American approach to parenting.  He declares that Amy Chua sheltered her daughters from the kind of social interactions that teach us how to deal with people in the real world.  In Anglo culture, home schooling parents, though usually much less manic than Ms. Chua, have the […]

In a Rather Interesting Magazine Called “The American Conservative” January 22, 2011 No Comments

In a rather interesting magazine called The American Conservative, which is not conservative necessarily as we understand it in Orange County, but actually represents pacifist conservatives of all kinds (and yes there is such a thing as pacifist conservatives) Stephen Baskerville has written an excellent essay maintaining that “Marriage exists primarily to cement the father […]

Christians Creating Culture: Charles Schulz Did It January 12, 2011 2 Comments

The last couple of nights I happened to watch two famous television specials on DVD:  A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  I pity any members of younger generations who have not seen them.  Today people like Andy Crouch and Gabe Lyons have been recommending that Christians, instead of taking a […]

In my youth, people knew that the only way to stop arbitrary exercises… December 22, 2010 1 Comment

It is a pity that, apparently, no one got arrested. In my youth, people knew that the only way to stop arbitrary exercises of government authority like this one was to force them to arrest you or give you your way. This is especially true in dealing with unelected administrative ‘authorities’ such as fire marshals, […]

More CA Teens Stay in the Passenger’s Seat August 23, 2010 3 Comments

Well, for one thing, kids have other ways of getting out of the house nowadays – into Cyberspace and Facebook, most notably. Related: “More Calif. Teens Stay in the Passenger’s Seat” by Tracey Correa at Fresno Bee.

When I Was Young in the 1950s and Early 60s… August 16, 2010 1 Comment

When I was young in the 1950s and early 60s it was just assumed that ‘progress’ was leading us toward a life of more and more leisure and that work was going to get easier and easier.  Actually, it didn’t quite happen that way.  As technology made work easier, more and more work became things […]

Would the Beach Boys be Considered Country Today July 27, 2010 No Comments

While my wife and I were on a road trip recently, we had a rented car where we had not taken the time to learn how to operate the Sirius XM satellite radio system.  So we had a country station on for several days.  I would have dreaded that, but I found out differently.  The […]

New World Order June 26, 2010 2 Comments

A sample of the new pessimism that transcends typical categories of right and left. Is Chinese fascism our future? In Response To: “New World Order” by Patrick J. Deneen at Front Porch Republic

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism June 15, 2010 1 Comment

Sometimes there are advantages to my advanced age. The World magazine article here from a few years ago was part of a major rumpus concerning something called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism that most of our adolescents, including many in evangelical churches, actually believe. Big deal, I thought. It bore a great resemblance to what everyone around […]

Down With Downhill Skiing March 24, 2010 1 Comment

California’s most popular winter sport exposed! Related: “Down With Downhill Skiing!” at The Daily Beast

Prudes at Dinner, Gluttons in Bed March 2, 2010 2 Comments

Apropos of my post more than a month ago on New Year’s Resolutions (attached to refresh your memory) I just found a column by George Will on a similar theme. It seems to me that the words “sin” and “sinful” occur in modern secular prose most often next to the words “chocolate” or “Las Vegas.” […]

Happy Holidays and What They Really Are December 22, 2009 2 Comments

The so-called Christmas holidays are really a rather complex thing – they are three different holidays happening simultaneously. WINTER SOLSTICE.  This is certainly the first and oldest of the reasons to celebrate at this time of the year.  Of course, for a Christian, the coming of Christ is more important, but historically, there was a […]

The Real Danger to the Faith November 18, 2009 1 Comment

Last weekend the Wall Street Journal had a weekend feature on “Man vs. God” in which neither side defended the Biblical Christian faith. Back in the ‘70s there was a book called the Peter Principle that declared that people rose in the system till they got to a position whose duties they were incompetent to […]

Where I’m Still Libertarian (With a couple of shameless plugs.) 1 Comment

Now that I have become a big government Democrat, I am farther removed from the Libertarians than I ever was before. But as a Christian, I could never be a philosophical Libertarian, much as I would have liked to be in my youth. I did think, and still do, that some libertarian thought is worth […]

Sons of Italy “Assimilate” to Country and Western No Comments

If the Sons of Italy is doing a country western dance, not tarantellas, why are we so worried about immigration? When I’m in Europe I like to tell them, in hell, the Americans are in charge of health care and public transit. In Heaven, we are in charge of handicapped access and immigrant assimilation. Both […]

I Do Not Have to, and I Will Not, Choose Between Being “Morally Superior” and Being A “Robber” No Comments

I enjoyed Jonathan Chait’s review of two books about Ayn Rand’s world in a recent New Republic. I have not actually read the books reviewed, but I, and members of my family, have been at various times exposed to and fascinated by Ayn Rand, from her first novel, We the Living, which is possibly her […]

Why There’s Not Much Intellectual Activity in Orange County November 9, 2009 2 Comments

My friend asked me to write on why there isn’t much intellectual activity in Orange County. My basic answer is a simple one. First, it isn’t considered healthy. Second, it’s too much like work. Third, it’s not considered character-building. Actually, you need to go back farther than that and start with a classic little book […]

The Surprising Fruit of 9/11 September 11, 2009 2 Comments

Today is the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York City. In the US, the event seemed to me to have an effect on the results of the 2004 election, but by the time of the 2008 election the impact had faded. And yet I would contend the long-term impact of the 9/11 […]