Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Communism and Reasonable Men

[A]fter the conduct of the Communist regimes in Russia and China and Hungary and elsewhere it is impossible for any reasonable man really to believe that Communism is the path to perfection.
~Russell Kirk, The American Cause (1957)

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Private Sphere in 1957

Everywhere in America, individuals and private voluntary associations jealously reserve to themselves the rights of choice and action in those spheres of activity which most nearly affect the private person. The state touches these private concerns only upon suffrance, or not at all. Religious belief and affiliation are matters wholly of private choice; economic activity, by and large, is left to the will of individuals; social relationships are voluntary and private relationships; where one lives, and how is not determined by political authority. Quite as much as in England, an American's home is his castle. A great many Americans live their lives through without ever conversing with a civil servant, or even saying more than good morning to a policeman. Americans have no official cards of identity, or internal passports, or system of national registration. Until 1941, America never experienced peacetime conscription into the armed forces. Nowhere in the world is the operation of government less conspicuous than in the United States. If an American citizen desires to abstain altogether from political activity, even to the extent of never voting, no one interferes with him; and for millions of Americans, their only direct contact with government is their annual submission of income-tax reports. Private life looms much larger than public life in the American commonwealth.

Even in those concerns which have been opened to local or state or federal political activity, the theory persists that political authority operates only as a convenience to private citizens. The public schools, for instance, are intended simply to facilitate the education of young people, not to enforce the educational doctrines of central authority: although nearly all the states require that children should be schooled in some fashion, everywhere parents are free to educate their children privately, or in denominational schools, if they prefer such methods to enrollment in public schools. The American assumption is that education is primarily the concern of the family and the individual, not of the political state; and this frame of mind extends to many more activities in which the state acts as servant, rather than as master.
~Russell Kirk, The American Cause (1957)

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Before we get started, let me say that, after Checkerboard Nightmare, Time Friends was the best thing Kristofer Straub ever did. And the fact that the archives aren't available online is a travesty. Not that anything we can ever do will change that, but I'm glad I was able to say that publicly. Okay, now that is out of the way...

H8rs Gonna H8

What is this compulsion people have, primarily on the internet, but also in the real world, for using unnecessary abbreviations? In some circumstances, indeed, frequent abbreviation makes sense. When one tweets (loathsome term!), one must cut and abbreviate ruthlessly in order to be able to say much at all. But rarely is this necessary in a comment box and never in the primary source work.

I'm not speaking of those common workaday abbreviates like NATO, USA, USSR or the like. Nor do I object to the creation of abbreviations for a phrase to be repeated many times throughout a body of writing. What I question is the need for such terms as IIRC, IMHO, BTW, and the one I had never seen until recently: ISTR. That last, apparently, stood in for "I seem to recall."

I know I'm not the first person to rail against this impulse and I shan't be the last, but what I'm really curious about at the moment (ATM?!) is why some folks have this impulse. Are they really in that much of a hurry? Do these phrases really occur that often? Will they all be nearly universally understood? Also, where's my cane? I need to chase these dang kids off my lawn.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Okay, okay; so that's not the most creative title you've ever seen, or indeed, that I've ever come up with. On the other hand, it is right about the same level as the quips in the latest Bond film. In fact, the entire movie ends up seeming like nothing so much as a parody of itself.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Falling Behind

An interesting short film called A Little Bit Behind linked from Toshi Station. A word or two of language you won't hear on US TV, but otherwise unobjectionable, I think.

Monday, April 08, 2013

What's Wrong With the DH

I've never been able to articulate it as well as this, but I've always been four-square the designated hitter. As this article points out, it makes about as much sense as a designated free-throw shooter.