Essays in Idleness


Month: August, 2015

On the Daesh strategy

There was so much ruined temple at the Palmyra site, that the Daesh are still blowing it up, I learn from news reports. (No one in the West even thought of intervening.) This leaves them less explosive with which to blow up Christians, Yazidis, miscellaneous Sufis, Mershdi Alawites, full Twelvers, Ismailis, Druze, various Shia and […]

Spiritu ambulate

“Behold the birds of the air; for they neither sow nor do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you, by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider […]

The duh chronicles

“When will capitalism end?” asks a correspondent for the New Republic. This begins an article entitled, “What if Stalin had computers?” — which in turn reviews (arguably) a book by Paul Mason with the title, Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future. I found the whole mess incomprehensible, and so will do my bit to clean […]

Phenotypic plasticity

One of the concessions I once made to the Darwinists was on microevolution. Adaptations to environment on the small scale might well, in many cases, involve random mutation and “natural selection.” But these happen within parameters that do not extend to the macroevolutionary scale. To transcend species barriers is a work of ages, beyond the […]

Moynihan’s scissors today

We are celebrating this year, if that is the word, the fiftieth anniversary of perhaps the most inconsequential sociological study ever published. That was, The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, by the brilliant American politician and thinker, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927–2003). Working then in the U.S. Department of Labour, Moynihan focused his attention […]

How to raise children

We need to pay more attention to the neglect of children. They are not being neglected nearly enough, and the consequence is that they grow up neurotic, and with asthmatic tendencies. … Also, foolish. … And I’d mention narcissistic, but everyone does. A model mother of my recent acquaintance boasts of the success of her […]


The cow I do not keep on my balconata, up here in the High Doganate, is a thirteenth-century animal. Some of these advanced breed cows they have today can squirt fifteen gallons of milk into your buckets, just after lactation. (Daily.) Half that is more common, however, and even that requires beasts that eat seventy […]

The roundest wheel

I mention cars so much because they occupy so much of my brain, such as it is. And this, although I do not own one, hardly ever ride, and would rather shut them out. (I still limp, slightly, from one of them that bumped me while I was road-crossing on a green light, ten years […]

The longest spoon

Let me extend yesterday’s effusion; for judging from th’email, my point was incomprehensible. And this was not quite my intention. Let me restate the argument in a slightly different way, thus providing a stereo effect. The point was not about cars, but made through cars. They are a physical nuisance, to be sure; a source […]

The highest tech

Some years ago, as we prepared to cross something called Maple Avenue in a small Ontario town, John Sommer and I were nearly run over by an ebullient young driver. We were too deep in conversation to notice the muscle car gunning down (quiet, residential) Charles Street behind us; it swerved with a tremendous screech […]

Sister lived long enough

Today, within the Mass of the Ages, we commemorate Jane Francis Fremiot de Chantal (Saint, 1572–1641), whose husband died on her when she was twenty-eight. It was a hunting accident: the Baron of Chantal failed to duck when some clutz aimed an arquebus in his general direction. This left Jane, who had already lost a […]

Pigeon digest

There are days (today would be an example) when I file these modest Idleposts late, usually because I had something else to write, teach, or otherwise deal with, earlier in the day. By noon, I have lost confidence in anything I could say, on any topic, and so fall into “Schopenhauer mode.” That is to […]

A Trifluvian philosopher

There was a man named Alexis Klimov, who lived in Trois-Rivières. He was of Russian ancestry, but Belgian birth, if memory serves. More importantly, he was a contributor to my Idler magazine, in its heyday of the mid-to-late ‘eighties, when it appeared that pre-industrial, mystic Toryism was going to work out. (By Christmas of 1993 […]