Essays in Idleness


Month: December, 2015

Some culinary answers

And here, gentle reader, along with my best wishes for a Civil New Year, are answers to each question in yesterday’s Quiz. Not, I imagine, the only possible answers, but nonetheless, answers that will have to do: * 1. Alaska Strawberries? … A facetious American expression for dried beans. I am unable to discover any […]

A culinary quiz

We are approaching the end of the Civil Year, I have it on authority. In the once holy but now frivolous space between Christmas and “New Year’s” (really the Octave of the Nativity), and on the eve of the eve of MMXVI, I am resolved to provide something light and insubstantial. You see, I was […]

Compulsory mental illness

[Made once again a few little “improvements” to this essay, overnight.] * Men are easier to brainwash than women. This, anyway, has been my experience through the last six decades or so. We (men) have this marvellous ability to “compartmentalize,” as persons of both sexes have observed. We can, as Mozart perfectly exemplified, “do this […]

Ever the optimist

We (in the sense of, “I”) have complained before of the failure of large conurbations (“cities”) to turn off their lights at night so that residents may observe astronomical spectacles. As a concession to human weakness, perhaps lights could be permitted indoors behind black-out curtains. Or if the masses won’t co-operate, just turn off the […]

Merry Christmas

Stop writing and uploading for a day, I was told by my advisers before I ever started, and you have lost half your audience. Do it for two days and you have lost another half. As I now intend to disappear through four days, from this electronic aether, it follows that I must bid adieu […]

Death to Tinker Bell

I was going to name Santa Claus in my heading, then thought, it would give too much comfort to the Sultan of Brunei. You may now get five years in gaol for celebrating Christmas in that oil satrapy, if your Muslim neighbours can see you doing it. This includes Santa displays. The theory behind the […]

On fact-checking

We are told, by innumerable “websites” this morning, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Internet website, uploaded by Tim Berners-Lee on the 21st of December, AD 1990. This corresponds to a full generation ago, by a statistical convention. “Email” came along, less than three years later; then more unfortunate things. I recall not […]

Whimper wants a bang

The interpretation of Earth’s evolutionary history as a five-act play, with a farce tacked on the end as envoi, certainly appeals to my dramatic sense. As gentle reader may know, each grand period or biotic Act ends with a massive extinction event. We have the curtains close on the Ordovician, the Devonian, the Permian, and […]

Notes from the resistance

It is hardly more difficult to make chocolates than to cast lead bullets. I had never made either, truth be told, but there are instructional videos on YouTube for the curious, and there are more detailed, written instructions elsewhere on the Internet for those who, like me, might want to make their bullets in a […]

O come, Emmanuel

The first of the O Antiphons, on the Magnificat in Vespers, telegraphs, as it were, the approach of the Nativity of Our Lord. We have entered the last week of Advent. In each of seven successive evenings, the promise of the Messiah is echoed in phrases of the Old Testament, succinct and discrete. It is […]

Presidential endorsement

My Chief Texas Correspondent kindly pings me this link (here) on a backroom of the USA Republican Party. Several dozen of the leading “conservatives” in the party apparently met at a Virginia hotel, on the 7th of December, and after five ballots reached consensus on their preferred presidential nominee. Prayers were said in intervals between […]

Not all there

Chesterton, somewhere, memorably notes that the madman is not without reason. Verily, in the mental department, he has lost everything except his reason. I remember this every time I find myself arguing with an atheist: that it is best not to. The mere idea of “pure reason” enabled a certain Immanuel Kant to anticipate post-modernity, […]

The young people

It is not their fault, really; perhaps they will get over it, in time. Really they are very sweet, and kind, and nice, very nice, except when they are not. The kind thing is to be nice with them. Often I am surprised by the young people. I am expecting something, and it does not […]