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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Poor But Proud

     "Jack Spindle and I were old acquaintance;  but he's gone.  Jack was bred in a compting-house, and his father dying just as he was out of his time, left him a handsome fortune, and many friends to advise with.  The restraint in which he had been brought up had thrown a gloom upon his temper, which some regarded as habitual prudence, and from such considerations he had every day repeated offers of friendship.  Those who had money were ready to offer him their assistance that way;  and they who had daughters frequently, in the warmth of affection, advised him to marry.  Jack, however, was in good circumstances;  he wanted neither money, friends, nor a wife, and therefore modestly declined their proposals.
       Some errors in the management of his affairs and several losses in trade soon brought Jack to a different way of thinking;  and he at last thought it his best way to let his friends know, that their offers were at length acceptable.  His first address was, therefore, to a scrivener who had formerly made him frequent offers of money and friendship at a time when, perhaps, he knew those offers would have been refused.
       Jack, therefore, thought he might use his old friend without any ceremony;  and, as a man confident of not being refused, requested the use of an hundred guineas for a few days, as he just then had an occasion for money.  'And pray, Mr. Spindle,' replied the scrivener, 'do you want all this money?'  'Want it, sir,' says the other;  'if I did not want it, I should not have asked it.'  'I am sorry for that, ' says the friend;  'for those who want money when they come to borrow, will want money when they should come to pay.  To say the truth, Mr. Spindle, money is money now-a-days.  I believe it is all sunk in the bottom of the sea, for my part;  and he that has got a little is a fool if he does not keep what he has got.'
       Not quite disconcerted by this refusal, our adventurer was resolved to apply to another, whom he knew to be the very best friend he had in the world.  The gentleman whom he now addressed received his proposal with all the affability that could be expected from generous friendship.  'Let me see, --you want an hundred guineas;  and pray, dear Jack, would not fifty answer?'  'If you have but fifty to spare, sir, I must be contented.'  'Fifty to spare!  I do not say that, for I believe I have but twenty about me.'  'Then I must borrow the other thirty from some other friend.'  'And pray,' replied the friend, 'would it not be the best way to borrow the whole money from that other friend?  then one note will serve for all, you know?  Lord, Mr. Spindle, make no ceremony with me at any time;  you know I'm your friend, when you choose a bit of dinner or so.  You, Tom, see the gentleman down.  You won't forget to dine with us now and then?  Your very humble servant.'
       Distressed, but not discouraged at this treatment, he was at last resolved to find that assistance from love which he could not have from friendship.  Miss Jenny Dismal had a fortune in her own hands, and she had already made all the advances that her sex's modesty would permit.  He made his proposal, therefore, with confidence, but soon perceived 'No bankrupt ever found the fair one kind.'  Miss Jenny and Master Billy Galoon were lately fallen deeply in love with each other, and the whole neighbourhood thought it would soon be a match.
       Every day now began to strip Jack of his former finery;  his clothes flew piece by piece to the pawnbrokers;  and he seemed at length equipped in the genuine mourning of antiquity.  But still he thought himself secure from starving;  the numberless invitations he had received to dine, even after his losses, were yet unanswered:  he was, therefore, now resolved to accept of a dinner, because he wanted one;  and in this manner he actually lived among his friends a whole week without being openly affronted.  The last place I saw poor Jack was at the Reverend Dr. Gosling's.  He had, as he fancied, just nicked the time, for he came in just as the cloth was laying.  He took a chair without being desired, and talked for some time without being attended to.  He assured the company, that nothing procured so good an appetite as a walk to the White Conduit House, where he had been that morning.  He looked at the tablecloth, and praised the figure of the damask;  talked of a feast where he had been the day before, but that the venison was overdone.  All this, however, procured the poor creature no invitation, and he was not yet sufficiently hardened to stay without being asked;  wherefore, finding the gentleman of the house insensible to all his fetches, he thought proper at last to retire, and mend his appetite by a walk in the Park.
       You then, O ye beggars of my acquaintance, whether in rags or lace--whether in Kent Street or at the Mall--whether at Smyrna or St. Giles's,--might I advise you as a friend, never seem in want of the favour which you solicit.  Apply to every passion but pity for redress.  You may find relief from vanity, from self-interest, or from avarice, but seldom from compassion.  The very eloquence of a poor man is disgusting;  and that mouth which is opened, even for flattery, is seldom expected to close without a petition.
       If, then, you would ward off the gripe of poverty, pretend to be a stranger to her, and she will at least use you with ceremony.  Hear not my advice, but that of Ofellus.  If you be caught dining upon a halfpenny porringer of pease soup and potatoes, praise the wholesomeness of your frugal repast.  You may observe that Dr. Cheyne has prescribed pease broth for the gravel;  hint that you are not one of those who are always making a god of your belly.  If you are obliged to wear a flimsy stuff in the midst of winter, be the first to remark that stuffs are very much worn at Paris.  If there be some irreparable defects in any part of your equipage, which cannot be concealed by all the arts of sitting cross-legged, coaxing, or darning, say that neither you nor Sampson Gideon were ever very fond of dress.  Or if you be a philosopher, hint that Plato and Seneca are the tailors you choose to employ;  assure the company, that men ought to be content with a bare covering, since what is now so much the pride of some, was formerly our shame. . . .In short, however caught, do not give up, but ascribe to the frugality of your dispostion what others might be apt to attribute to the narrowness of your circumstances, and appear rather to be a miser than a beggar.  To be poor, and to seem poor, is a certain method never to rise.  Pride in the great is hateful, in the wise it is ridiculous;  beggarly pride is the only sort of vanity I can excuse."  The Bee No.III by Oliver Goldsmith

Sunday, February 24, 2013

On Useless Knowledge

       Does "useful" mean good?  And if "useful" means good, what does "useful" mean?  A Power Line blog about literature brought up some odd comments.  One commenter said that communications is a more "useful" major than literature.  I take it to mean this commenter thinks communications is more helpful at getting a job than literature.  But does this mean communications is more "useful" than literature?  Estase thinks there are many fields of study that are worthwhile that are nearly no value at all in the job market, and, conversely, there are many fields of study that may get one a job, and are not any more of an education than trade school.  Communication majors may be prepared to be local news personalities, but any familiarity they have with actual thinking about broad issues of right and wrong or reality versus illusion will be nil.  The fact of the matter is that the kind of thinking about abstract reason that was once the hallmark of a liberal arts education is nearly extinct.  Far more undergraduates will read "I Rigoberta Menchu" than will read Plato's Gorgias.  The reason for this is that the only abstractions modern colleges like to teach about are the three isms:  racism, sexism, homophobia.  OK, so the last doesn't end in "ism," but you get the idea.  My major as an undergraduate was political science, something that could get one lost in a miasma of crap, but which also allowed one enough wiggle room (at least in the mid 90s) to take plenty of philosophy courses.  Indeed philosophy is another "useless" major, odd since in 1940, most college students were philosophy majors.  What percentage they constitute now would be interesting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NIH Study:Rob Halford Member of TEA Party

I have wondered who kidnapped Edmund Burke, and who decided Rob Halford was a member of the TEA Party.  Edmund Burke, according to the Investigation Discovery show "Evil Twins," is a name associated with white supremacist groups.  The eighteenth century Whig was also labeled as a homosexual by the ridiculously Freudian Isaac Kramnick book "The Rage of Edmund Burke," whose smoking guns on the homosexuality claim were quotes such as the one from the impeachment of Warren Hastings about "pure defecated evil."  Speaking of weird Freudian theories, and with a petasus tip to Protein Wisdom, a National Institutes of Health study (yes, even though we're broke, we can still fund junk science) by W.W. Tilden entitled "The Psychohistorical Roots of the American 'Tea Party' Movement" makes the ridiculous claim that Tea Partiers like it in the ass.  To quote:

       Extreme resistance to governmental taxation and authority is derived, according to Freud's theory of anal characterology, from premature and harshly coercive toilet training, in which a child is forced unfairly and against its will to surrender the product of his eliminations (which represent money, among other things, in the unconscious) to parental authority.  Among these individuals anal eroticism plays a significant role in the psychogenesis of paranoia and conspiracy theorizing, which may represent a defense mechanism erected against repressed fears of passive submission.

Isaac Kramnick couldn't have said it better!  And what decade did Kramnick write his piece of weirdness in?  The 70s!  The same decade that gave us "Deliverance," "Midnight Cowboy," and "Dog Day Afternoon."  No, people in the seventies weren't obsessed with homosexuality or anything.

The Sacred Cows

       I just read S.E. Cupp's explanation of why she thinks it is sometimes appropriate to call out Rush Limbaugh.  I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Cupp that Rush Limbaugh is occasionally an obstacle, someone whose Texas-sized ego and big mouth add up to big trouble at the polling place.  Limbaugh used to be a genuinely hilarious entertainer in the Clinton years, when a three hour dose of Limbaugh was all that got many conservatives through the day.  Since then, something has changed.  Instead of crazy song parodies and political satire, Limbaugh for about the last thirteen years has taken on the mantle of a serious commentator, something he is tempermentally and educationally unprepared to do.  I think this trend started when National Review did a cover in the 90s that depicted Limbaugh as a founding father, the kind of stroke Cape Girardeau, Missouri's favorite son's ego hardly needed. 
       Another sacred cow that needs to be ritually butchered is Ann Coulter.  While undoubtedly smarter than Mr. Limbaugh, Coulter has an abrasive, hyperbolic style that creates more enemies than friends.  Coulter totally prostituted herself in a vain attempt to get Mitt Romney elected, and those whose candidates she lied about during the primary season will not soon forget her doing so.  Coulter has also contributed to the image of Republicans as a party for WASPs, people who spend their off time at the local country club. 
       If more commentators followed the example of George Will and Charles Krauthammer, perhaps the Republican party could start shedding its image as being hyperbolic, sarcastic, abrasive, and angry.  Occasionally questioning the excesses of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh would be a start.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rock and Roll Philosophy

  The two quotes that explain 99% of what happens in the world.

       1)"No good deed goes unpunished."  John Mellencamp, "When the Walls (Come Tumbling Down)"

       2)"All crimes are paid."  The Sex Pistols, "God Save the Queen"

Update:  Although it is not as all-explainatory as the two main quotes, honorable mention goes to the following from "New York," also by the Sex Pistols.  "You're condemned--to eternal bullshit."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How We Roll

       The verdict of Salon's Alex Pareene (you know, the same Alex Pareene that called Robert Stacy McCain a "Neo-confederate?) is in on the Socially Liberal Republican Victory Project (AKA the Conservative Victory Project) of Karl Rove.  Alex lauds it, saying so by way of remarking that his social conservative opponents are just in it for the money.  Because Pareene's pet theory is that no one really is a conservative, they just pretend to be to get contributions and sell books.  Which is best illustrated by comparison with President Obama, who never did anything tawdry like suggest people contribute to his reelection campaign in lieu of giving loved ones gifts, and Rachel Maddow, who apparently does her MSNBC show for free just for the joy of evangelizing.

     Pareene is wrong.  Conservatives don't do it for the money.  They do it for the sex.  I can't tell you how many women Estase has gotten in the sack by telling that he was a pro-life Republican.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Corruption of Our English Tongue, From the Tatler

       "The following letter has laid before me many great and manifest evils in the world of letters which I had overlooked;  but they open to me a very busy scene, and it will require no small care and application to amend errors which are become so universal.  The affectation of politeness is exposed in this epistle with a great deal of wit and discernment;  so that whatever discourses I may fall into hereafter upon the subjects the writer treats of, I shall at present lay the matter before the world, without the least alteration from the words of my correspondent.

To Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire.  Sir,
       There are some abuses among us of great consequence, the reformation of which is properly your province;  though, as far as I have been conversant in your papers, you have not yet considered them.  These are, the deplorable ignorance that for some years hath reigned among our English writers, the great depravity of our taste, and the continual corruption of our style.  I say nothing here of those who handle particular sciences, divinity, law, politics, and the belles lettres;  together with those by whom books are not translated, but, as the common expressions are 'done out of' French, Latin, or other language, and 'made English.'  I cannot but observe to you, that until of late years a Grub Street book was always bound in sheepskin, with suitable print and paper, the price never above a shilling, and taken off wholly by common tradesmen or country pedlars;  but now they appear in all sizes and shapes, and in all places.  They are handed about from lapfuls in every coffee-house to persons of quality;  are shown in Westminster Hall and the Court of Requests.  You may see them gilt, and in royal paper of five or six hundred pages, and rated accordingly.  I would engage to furnish you with a catalogue of English books published within the compass of seven years past, which at the first hand would cost you a hundred pounds, wherein you shall not be able to find ten lines together of common grammar or common sense.
       These two evils, ignorance and want of taste, have produced a third;  I mean the continual corruption of our English tongue, which, without some timely remedy, will suffer more by the false refinements of twenty years past, than it hath been improved in the forgoing hundred.  And this is what I design chiefly to enlarge upon, leaving the former evils to your animadversion.
      But instead of giving you a list of the last refinements crept into our language, I here send you a copy of a letter I received, some time ago, from a most accomplished person in this way of writing;  upon which I shall make some remarks.  It is in these terms:
                        I cou'd n't get the things you sent for all about Town.-----I tho't to ha' come down myself, and then I'd h' brot' um;  but I ha'nt don't, and I believe I can't do't, that's Pozz------.  Tom begins to gi' mself airs, because he's going with the Plenipo's ------.  'Tis said the French King will bamboozl us agen, which causes many speculations.  The Jacks and others of that Kidney are very appish, and alert upon't, as you may see by their Phizz's------.  Will Hazzard has got the hipps, having lost to the Tune of five hundr'd pound, tho' he understands play very well, no Body better.  He has promis't me upon rep, to leave off play;  but you know 'tis a weakness he's too apt to give into, tho' he has as much wit as any man, no Body more.  He has lain incog ever since-----.  The mob's very quiet with us now------.  I believe you thot I banter'd you in my last, like a country put-----. I shan't leave town this month, etc.'

      This letter is in every point an admirable pattern of the present polite way of writing;  nor is it of less authority for being an epistle.  You may gather every flower in it, with a thousand more of equal sweetness, from the books, pamphlets, and single papers offered us every day in the coffee-houses.  And these are the beauties introduced to supply the want of wit, sense, humour, and learning, which formerly were looked upon as qualifications for a writer.  If a man of wit, who died forty years ago, were to rise from the grave on purpose, how would he be able to read this letter?  And after he had got through that difficulty, how would he be able to understand it?  The first thing that strikes your eye is the breaks at the end of almost every sentence;  of which I know not the use, only that it is a refinement, and very frequently practised.  Then you will observe the abbreviations and elisions, by which consonants of most obdurate sound are joined together, without one softening vowel to intervene;  and all this only to make one syllable of two, directly contrary to the example of the Greeks and Romans, altogether of the Gothic strain, and a natural tendency towards relapsing into barbarity, which delights in monosyllables, and uniting of mute consonants, as it is observable in all the northern languages.  And this is still more visible in the next refinement, which consists in pronouncing the first syllable in a word that has many, and dismissing the rest, such as 'phizz, hipps, mob, pozz, rep,' and many more, when we are already overloaded with monosyllables, which are the disgrace of our language.  Thus we cram one syllable, and cut off the rest, as the owl fatteneth her mice after she had bit off their legs to prevent them from running away;  and if ours be the same reason for maiming our words, it will certainly answer the end;  for I am sure no other nation will desire to borrow them.  Some words are hitherto but fairly split, and therefore only in their way to perfection, as Incog., and Plenipo.  But in a short time, it is to be hoped, they will be further docked to Inc. and Plen.  This reflection has made me of late years very impatient for a peace, which I believe would save the lives of many brave words, as well as men.  The war has introduced abundence of polysyllables, which will never be able to live many more campaigns, 'speculations, operations, preliminaries, ambassadors, palisadoes, communication, circumvallation, battallions,'  as numerous as they are, if they attack us too frequently in our coffee-houses, we shall certainly put them to flight, and cut off the rear.
       The third refinement, observable in the letter I send you, consists in the choice of certain words invented by some pretty fellows, such as 'banter, bamboozle, country put, and kidney,' as it is there applied;  some of which are now struggling for the vogue, and others are in possession of it.  I have done my utmost for some years past, to stop the progress of 'mob' and 'banter,' but have been plainly borne down by numbers, and betrayed by those who promised to assist me.
       In the last place, you are to take notice of certain choice phrases scattered through the letter, some of them tolerable enough, until they were worn to rags by servile imitators.  You might easily find them though they were not in a different print, and therefore I need not disturb them.
       These are the false refinements in our style which you ought to correct;  first, by argument and fair means, but if those fail, I think you are to make use of your authority as Censor, and by an annual Index Expurgatorius expunge all words and phrases that are offensive to good sense and condemn those barbarous mutilations of vowels and syllables.  In this last point the usual pretence is that they spell as they speak:  a noble standard for language!  to depend on the caprice of every coxcomb, who, because words are the clothing of our thoughts, cuts them out and shapes them as he pleases, and changes them oftener than his dress.  I believe all reasonable people would be content that such refiners were more sparing in their words and liberal in their syllables;  and upon this head I should be glad you would bestow some advice upon several young readers in our churches, who, coming up from the university full fraught with admiration of our town politeness, will needs correct the style of their prayer-books.  In reading the absolution, they are very careful to say 'Pardons and Absolves';  but in the prayer for the Royal Family, it must be endue'um, enrich'um, prosper'um, and bring'um.  Then in their sermons they use all the modern terms of art, 'sham, banter, mob, bubble, bully, cutting, shuffling, and palming;'  all which, and many more of the like stamp, as I have heard them often in the pulpit from such young sophisters, so have I read them in some of 'those sermons that have made most noise of late.'  The design, it seems, is to avoid the dreadful imputation of pedantry;  to show us that they know the town, understand men and manners, and have not been poring upon old unfashionable books in the university.
       I should be glad to see you the instrument of introducing into our style that simplicity which is the best and truest ornament of most things in life, which the politer ages always aimed at in their building and dress, simplex munditiis,as well as their productions of wit.  It is manifest that all new affected modes of speech, whether borrowed from the court, the town, or the theatre, are the first perishing parts in any language;  and, as I could prove by many hundred instances, have been so in ours.  The writings of Hooker, who was a country gentleman, and of Parsons the Jesuit, both in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, are in a style that, with very few allowances, would not offend any present reader, and are much more clear and intelligible than those of Sir Harry Wotton, Sir Robert Naunton, Osborn, Daniel the historian, and several others who writ later;  but being men of the court, and affecting the phrases then in fashion, they are often either not to be understood, or appear perfectly ridiculous.
       What remedies are to be applied to those evils I have not room to consider, having, I fear, already taken up most of your paper.  Besides, I think it is our office only to represent abuses, and yours to redress them.  I am with great respect, Sir, Your, etc.



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crazy About Chicago

        Leftists assume all actions have a locus of responsibility lying outside the self.  If you achieve greatly, it is because society helped you.  If you become a criminal, it is because society wronged you.  Nobody is responsible for their own actions.  But isn't a mental hospital where we put those who are not responsible for their own actions?
       Vide the case of Democratic Chicago Judge Cynthia Brim.  Since her original 1994 election, Judge Brim was the subject of five psychiatric hospitalizations.  The bar association described her as "not qualified" when her retention was on the ballot in 2000, 2006, and 2012.  Despite this, the Democratic Party still backed her reelection.  When Judge Brim was put on trial for shoving a Deputy at the Daley Center, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity.  Now subject to review by the Judicial Inquiry Board, the liberal belief that people are not responsible for their actions finds one true example in Judge Cynthia Brim. 
       Last March, Brim went on a tirade while presiding over traffic court and was asked to leave the courthouse.  The next day she attempted to complain to the Judicial Inquiry Board about another judge who took too much sick leave.  After throwing her keys to the courthouse on the floor of the office as a protest, the Deputy tried to ascertain who Brim was and how she got the courthouse keys when Brim shoved him.  Enter Judge Pamela Hill-Veal, Brim's cousin.  The second judge came to the jail to secure the release of the first.  Hill-Veal claimed that Brim had no history of mental illness.  Do you have to be crazy to be a judge in Chicago?  Apparently it doesn't hurt.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Primrose League v. Steve King

Karl Rove's American Crossroads is starting something it calls the Conservative Victory Project.  Petasus tip to RightScoop.  The Conservative Victory Project, or as Estase would call it, the Socially Liberal Republican Victory Project, has picked as their first target Iowa Congressman Steve King, who committed the unforgivable sin of crossing Rove by supporting Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. 

Karl Rove is the physical embodiment of what Estase calls the Primrose League, the amoral wing of the Republican Party.  Primrose Leaguers want candidates who run only on economics.  The Primrose League bristles at the suggestion of running on social issues, especially abortion.  As dumb as Todd Akin's theories about conception and rape were, those were not really what the Primrose League objected to, but Akin's conviction that abortion is wrong.  Not impolite, not unpopular, but wrong.  As a matter of fact, Primrose Leaguers don't like the idea of right and wrong in general.  They are often Hegelians, in the sense that winning is more important than morality.  Hegelians at the end of the day are often Machiavellians as well.  And here you have Karl Rove, the Bush Machiavelli.  He sees himself as the sachem, dictating to the bumpkins on how they need to run for office.  It's Karl's party, not yours!  Rove has ruled Steve King can't win, so who are you mere mortals to question him?

Love and Enlightenment

Charity is patient, is kind:  charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely;  is not puffed up; Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never falleth away:  whether prophecies shall be made void or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.  But when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.  We see now through a glass in a dark manner;  but then face to face.  Now I know in part;  but then I shall know even as I am known.  And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three:  but the greatest of these is charity.

Douay-Rhiems Bible

The Conservative Case for Black History Month

I just saw a conservative quidnunc argue against the whole idea of Black History Month as being anti-American.  While such tendencies are always to be guarded against, the fact of the matter is that the Republican Party was the party of black people until FDR stole them away.  Witness Governor Charles Deneen, who was one of the few people who stood up for black people in the mess that was the 1908 Springfield Race War.  One may read "Something So Horrible" by Carole Merritt at  The fact of the matter is that white Americans do have a history to answer to, and as one who holds up the mantle of Charles Sumner, Estase is hardly going to pretend that black people have not been abused.  Conservatives should celebrate Black History Month, proud that it has often been Republicans who stood up for blacks.

Update:  Estase recommends for blacks who recognize the sanctity of human life.