Still Naught For Our Comfort

One of the things that I love about my partner here, Jessica, is that she has rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen each of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’s writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

She has greatly enriched my life, but more importantly, she has enabled me to make my points much more clearly. I wrote most of this post while she was just starting to recover from her illness, and it spoke deeply to me then, and in fact, looking at the world today, it still does.

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to where we are now, in America.

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted it to me when by deceit, Obamacare was ruled constitutional. That defeat continues to unfold to the detriment of the country, as do many others.

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us, personally, and for us as Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either. Nor does the next four years look exactly like ‘Morning in America’. But then neither did 1976.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Makes me wonder at who we are considering hiring to run ‘America, Inc.’

We will have to simply use our intelligence to try to select the best person. We have many things to fix. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

That may well happen again, but if we look around, the landscape does rather look as the poet describes here, doesn’t it?

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

There is, of course, another lesson implicit in the poem. King Alfred succeeded because he was true to his vision and his faith. If we are not, we will fail.

By the way, Jess and I also often quote Mother Julian of Norwich to each other as well, especially as reported by T.S. Elliot in Little Gidding.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

No Safe Spaces Here

UChicagoThe University of Chicago is nearly unique.

Unique in its ability in the reason for its existence, in its present form. This school was one of the founders of the Big 10 Conference as well as 6 times champion of the league, and home of the winner of the first Heisman trophy, but withdrew from intercollegiate sports when it found that it interfered with its core mission. They returned to NCAA Division III football in 1973. And so it was under the bleachers of its unused football stadium, Stagg Field, that the first ever controlled nuclear reaction took place.

Unique in being the home of the Chicago School of Economics, and its most famous spokesman, the late Milton Friedman, who has been highlighted here many times, not least for his I, Pencil, perhaps the best demonstration of how interdependent we all are.

And maybe unique also in something that came up this week. My friend Chalcedon (who is employed in University Administration after (and concurrent with) a distinguished career in University teaching himself) over at All along the Watchtower said this today

A Catholic university is charged with developing a learning community which inculcates such values, and should strive to help form its students in such a way; but it also needs to engage its students actively in this process – there is no room for ‘safe spaces’ or for students to be merely passive receivers (even if such students existed and wanted to come to a university with a Catholic ethos).

A Catholic university places itself, Newman wrote, at the service of revealed truth (Idea of a University, Discourse 4).

Personally, I think that is the mission of all universities, not just Catholic ones, and I suspect that the University of Chicago would agree. They said this in a letter to incoming students.

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

via University of Chicago to students: no safe spaces here | Power Line

I applaud both of them, the solutions to our problems, and they exist; we created the problems, and we can (with God’s help) solve them, never have, and will never be in hiding from the problems or in not honestly exploring them. That is not, and never was a comfortable undertaking. As Hannah Holborn Gray, a former President of the University said:

[E]ducation should not be intended to make people comfortable,

it is meant to make them think.

And you know, I think with that ethos, they will each begin (maybe the word is continue) to attract the robust student who is there to learn, and to discuss, and to study, and to discern some actual truth. Often here we say that the truth can stand on its own, and it can, but we also need those that will proclaim it throughout the land. Truth in an ivory tower, does little good, but the truth in the marketplace of ideas will gain adherents, and may well win the day. One hopes so, anyway. Our society needs a huge dose of truth these days.

A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down: Now what?

This has been kicking around in my files for a month now, seems like the best-laid plans… In any case, as it grew less timely, I wonder if it hasn’t become important. I rather think it has. Seems to me that what he speaks of here is becoming more true in the US, at least, every day. A huge amount of the day-to-day reality of how politics is done is this country has been uprooted, on both sides. And so all is in flux.

How we put it back together to make it work (or not) is likely to be to be a large part of the question going forward. And do remember it’s not just us. Brexit in the UK, much of the turmoil caused by the Islamists in Europe, has much the same cause.

In large measure, I think all of the enemies of freedom around the world are sensing that the system is weak at the moment and that this may be their opportunity. They could be right, but they don’t have to be. How we answer the basic questions going forward will answer that question.

Western political systems are in the middle of a realignment. The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War. Reality is finally catching up with us, several years late, and doing away with obsolete political movements and parties.

We saw direct evidence of this when, on both sides of the Atlantic, ordinary people finally had a chance to circumvent their nations’ political elites. In the United States, Trump used his wealth and high profile to sidestep party donors, special-interest groups and political correctness.

In the United Kingdom, the referendum on European Union membership vested power temporarily in the British voting public, not Cabinet ministers or party whips.

These unusual circumstances exposed profound but long-hidden fault lines in both countries’ political systems. I knew these fault lines existed, but I was surprised by how quickly they devastated the status quo.

The American conservative movement, for instance, at least as we knew it before Trump’s entry into the presidential race last summer, no longer exists. Whether by accident or design, Trump ignored the reference points of left and right, putting together a coalition of Middle Americans who don’t care about ideological purity. Coming from old-fashioned Democratic and Republican backgrounds, these voters are united by a cultural conservatism that used to be standard in both parties. They care about pragmatic action on a handful of issues, mainly immigration, political correctness, crime and jobs.

Something similar happened in Britain. Outside the London cloister, Labour voters overwhelmingly rejected the metropolitan version of left-wing politics. Along with many shire Tories, they have specific views on sovereignty, independence and immigration. Just as in the US, this broad cultural conservatism used to be a given within each party until cosmopolitanism took its place.

We are heading for a politics in which the divisions are no longer just left and right, at least not in the sense we’ve used those terms for the past few decades. The shift is splitting all current movements into nationalist and internationalist wings – or perhaps populist and establishment, middle class and upper class, or urban and provincial.

This is happening because so many of the traditional features of left and right no longer apply to them. A working-class white person seeking representation used to find it in the left. Now what does he get? A movement telling him to check his “privilege”. A conservative used to be able to count on the right to make the case for cultural assimilation. Now he, too, is told to be quiet and make way for “progress”.

via A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down – CatholicHerald.co.uk

Like so much of what we write here, we have to answer the questions for ourselves. I’m not sure that there are correct answers, in aggregate, you have to answer based on our knowledge and bedrock philosophy. So do I.

The Stupid: It Burns

Caveman_Cooking_Over_Fire_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_081102-131412-829050When I first read this, I simply didn’t believe it was real. Well, it is.

But there were downsides, too. Occasionally, the smoke burned their eyes and seared their lungs. Their food was likely coated with char, which might have increased their risk for certain cancers. With everyone congregated in one place, diseases could have been transmitted more easily.

Much research has focused on how fire gave an evolutionary advantage to early humans. Less examined are the negative byproducts that came with fire, and the ways in which humans may or may not have adapted to them. In other words, how did the harmful effects of fire shape our evolution?

from The New York Times, they must be so proud.

I mean really, the downside of fire? Undiscover fire and we simply go back, even beyond the hunter-gatherer, to the naked, hairless ape, trying not to get eaten by the faster, stronger animals. I imagine its Racist as well, because, no doubt those ancestors of ours who thought  that fire was the best thing since, well I was going to say meat, but they had never tried that, were no doubt black.

Next up the downside of the wheel, no doubt. I think Manhattan Island would be far more beautiful though without, I imagine it might support, oh maybe 100 people, at least til winter. These people are simply parasites, on the order of a tapeworm. Why we think they deserve to be paid the big bucks, is simply beyond me.

Hat tip to the HQ, there are far more honest companies who package their toilet paper on rolls, without ink smeared on it. Cheaper and softer too!


Then there is the British Daily Star, who shared with its readers, that the British MOD had spent £183 million on a new five-inch gun, which according to the paper is about the size of your toothbrush. Well, they got corrected, not too politely.

Obviously, the Iowa class battleships, with their 16 inch main batteries were no big deal, after all, most AR 15s, even those that don’t have the thing that goes up, have 20″ barrels.

From SOFREP News 


In case you missed it, The Green Party nominated Jill Stein for President last week, in Houston. Here’s an outline of what they want.

  • “Greens want to stop runaway climate change, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at least 40% by 2020 and 95% by 2050, over 1990 levels.”
  • “Enact a Fee & Dividend system on fossil fuels to enable the free market to include the environmental costs of their extraction and use…. The carbon fee will initially be small, a dime per kilogram of carbon, to avoid creating a shock to the economy. The fee will be increased by 10% each year that global atmospheric carbon dioxide content is greater than 350 ppm, decreased 10% each year it’s less than 300 ppm, and repealed entirely when it falls below 250 ppm.”
  • “The Green Party calls for elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, biomass and waste incineration and biofuels.”
  • “Move decisively to an energy system based on solar, wind, geo-thermal, marine, and other cleaner renewable energy sources.”
  • “We call for a ban on the construction of large-scale and inappropriately-located, hydroelectric dams.”
  • “The Green Party calls for a formal moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, the early retirement of existing nuclear power reactors, and the phase-out of technologies that use or produce nuclear waste, such as nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators, and all uses of depleted uranium.”
  • “We call for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. With limited supplies and in the absence of commercially viable ‘clean coal’ carbon sequestration, which may never be feasible, coal is neither an economically nor an environmentally sustainable solution.”
  • “We call for the cessation of development of fuels produced with polluting, energy-intensive processes or from unsustainable or toxic feed stocks, such as genetically-engineered crops, coal and waste streams contaminated with persistent toxics.”
  • “We oppose further oil and gas drilling or exploration on our nation’s outer continental shelf, on our public lands, in the Rocky Mountains, and under the Great Lakes.”
  • “Plan for decentralized, bioregional electricity generation and distribution.”
  • “De-carbonize and re-localize the food system.”
  • “Investment: Enormous amounts of investment capital will be needed to accomplish the energy transition, much more than the promise of $150 billion for renewable energy over ten years, and must now come from government.”
  • “The Green Party calls for the early retirement of nuclear power reactors as soon as possible (in no more than five years)….”
  • “The Green Party supports a transportation policy that emphasizes the use of mass transit and alternatives to the automobile and truck for transport.”

In other words, “Stop the world, I want to get off”. Not only that but also this

Create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.

And this

Guarantee economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing, and utilities, with effective anti-poverty programs to ensure every American a life of dignity.

via: Green Party Energy: Front Door Cronyism, Back Door Poverty (convention concludes in Houston) The entire energy platform is there as well if you’re masochistic enough.

Like the source link, I think Milton Friedman summed up things quite well when he said:

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

In Praise of the Go-Between

Suzannah LipscombI doubt there are any who read here who don’t know that I’m a history buff, although I’m no historian, except maybe an amateur, not overly disciplined one. But part of that is that so many academic historians forget that history isn’t a spreadsheet, it’s a story. It’s a story that has fascinated us from the beginning, after all, it’s our story, the story of where we’ve been.

For me, one of the joys of the internet is that I watch a fair amount of British TV, both BBC, and others, and they do a far better job of making history interesting. Why? Mostly I think because they have some very good academic historians, who can span that bridge from academic historian to a popular book, or as the presenter of a TV show or series.

One of those who does this better than most is Suzannah Lipscomb is Head of the history faculty at the New College of the Humanities, London and a frequent presenter on British TV, and a best-selling author, who deserves to be. Yesterday she wrote about this, and I think it important.

In recent weeks I have gone from reading 16th-century manuscripts in a French provincial archive to speaking at two literary festivals. The close juxtaposition of these two ends of the historian’s spectrum has made me reflect on the nature of history as a discipline.

The sort of raw data historians dredge up from archives requires many filters and processes to become the finished product: a book, a television documentary, a literary festival talk. Extracting that raw data and conveying it in meaningful terms to an audience require very different skill-sets. Yet both are essential. Finding treasures in the archives is the essence of historical research, while, as G.M. Trevelyan put it: ‘If historians neglect to educate the public, if they fail to interest it intelligently in the past, then all their historical learning is useless except insofar as it educates themselves.’ This is why at my college we are starting an MA in Historical Research and Public History. Both of these subjects come under the historian’s purview.

Emphasis mine because that Trevelyan quote is the crux of the matter. If historians want to matter, and we need them to, they need to keep this in mind.

Nevertheless, they are different and it is easy for historians to get lost in one or the other. Public historians can be irritated by academic historians who get caught up in the minutiae and cannot see the wood for the trees, who cannot communicate and write in impenetrable prose, or who squander their material by failing to convey the importance of their subjects.

In turn, academic historians can be frustrated by media-savvy popular historians who come and prey on the material they have acquired through long hours trawling through archives, painstakingly deciphering ancient handwriting, or slogging through useless document after useless document in order to harvest some hard-won fruit, which the popular historian then serves up as a trifle for public consumption.

via In Praise of the Go-Between | History Today

Suzie ends with this:

Those who think of history as much more of a soft, easily accessible discipline than, say, physics or chemistry should be warned that it is not as easy as it looks. There is a rift between the two ends of the spectrum, but it seems to me that the very business of being a historian lies in that space. We are go-betweens.

They are indeed, and they, and we need to remember that the best guide we have to the future, is the past. We need them, both those hidden in the stacks, and those out in the world telling us about what they found. We should also remember what Mark Twain, a pretty good amateur historian, himself said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it surely rhymes.”

The Immorality of Guaranteeing Minimum Standards of Living

184I’ve had times over the years when I thought Erick Erickson was the greatest thing since canned beer, and I’ve had times when I swore he burned down the brewery. Life is like that, we don’t always agree, and we got where we are by different routes. But the other day he wrote about the so-called living wage that the Democrats prattled on about last week. He’s completely right and here’s an excerpt.

The Democrats have discovered a new right. It is the right of people to live a certain lifestyle at a certain income if people work forty hours a week.

It sounds like a wonderful idea. Why shouldn’t Americans be guaranteed a certain level of income for hard work? If you disagree with the idea, you might just be a cruel and heartless person. Well, put me in the cruel and heartless camp. The bumper sticker idea will have long range and terrible consequences.

First, life is not fair. The Democrats are championing this idea to gloss over the fact that their ideas have caused economic stagnation. Instead of allowing the private sector to thrive, they just want to raise taxes from the successful and give to those who are not successful. But life is inherently not fair. Some people will always have better jobs and some people will make better life choices.

Second, this is welfare disguised. By the 1990s — when Bill Clinton was president — we learned that some people could get comfortable living on a welfare check and checked out of work. Their children spiraled into a cycle of dependency and poverty. In Genesis, God put Adam and Eve to work in the garden. There is something soul nourishing about work. When we all get to Heaven we will all have jobs. Getting people comfortable not working sucks their souls away and destroys their families.

But putting people to work and guaranteeing them a lifestyle does much the same. It encourages complacency and saps the desire to get ahead for many people.

via The Immorality of Guaranteeing Minimum Standards of Living | The Resurgent

Boy, he said a mouthful there. If you’re willing to pay people enough to live somewhat comfortably without working, people are willing to not work. Well, Duh, who’d a thunk it!

Along the same line, know what else doesn’t work? Pricing labor above its level. Steven Hayward found a report that the City of Seattle commissioned on how their new $11/ hour minimum wage is working out.

So it’s fun to notice this morning that the city of Seattle, which threw out both shoulders patting itself on the back for raising its minimum age to $11 an hour last year, is finding the results are . . . not so good. Seattle commissioned a study by a group of economists, who reported in a few days ago:

Yet the actual benefits to workers might have been minimal, according to a group of economists whom the city commissioned to study the minimum wage and who presented their initial findings last week.

The average hourly wage for workers affected by the increase jumped from $9.96 to $11.14, but wages likely would have increased some anyway due to Seattle’s overall economy. Meanwhile, although workers were earning more, fewer of them had a job than would have without an increase. Those who did work had fewer hours than they would have without the wage hike.

Accounting for these factors, the average increase in total earnings due to the minimum wage was small, the researchers concluded. Using their preferred method, they calculated that workers’ earnings increased by $5.54 a week on average because of the minimum wage. Using other methods, the researchers found that the minimum wage hike actually caused total weekly earnings to drop — by as much as $5.22 a week. . .

If employers cannot stay in business while paying their staff more, they will either hire fewer people or give their workers fewer hours. As a result, even if wages per hour increase, workers’ total earnings could decline. . .

They attributed a wage increase of about $0.73 an hour for low-income workers to the minimum wage, and another $0.45 an hour to the improving economy. After the increase, Seattle’s workers got about seven more hours in a quarter. Workers’ hours increased even more in other parts of the state, however, leading the researchers to conclude that the minimum wage reduced the number of hours worked quarterly by 3.2, roughly 15 minutes each week.

Those figures do not include workers without jobs. The economists estimated that the minimum wage decreased the share of workers with jobs by about 1.2 percentage points.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say: Unexpectedly!TM

via: Minimum Wage, Maximum Ignorance

Unexpectedly™, indeed. Unexpectedly,™ every conservative and every economist who said this would happen, was right still again.

Unexpectedly™ still again who did the liberals, Democrats, and media (Yes, I know, I repeated myself twice there) hurt the most?

Why, of course, the poor and the jobless, it’s what they do best!

Unexpectedly! ™

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