Essays in Idleness


Month: January, 2016

Signs of the times

Often I wonder how it was that I managed to stay out of the Catholic Church, until the age of fifty. I suppose it was much the way my ancestors stayed out, for centuries. They found Christianity fairly obvious, back then, but the claims of Rome less so. Or even if they saw the claims, […]

Good one

Good on Fox, and especially Megyn Kelly, for provoking Donald Trump to stay away from a TV “debate.” It was an exquisite marketing move, for which I must also congratulate Roger Ailes, and Rupert Murdoch. Now suddenly the other half of America — the “liberal” half — is tuning in Fox News and liking it. […]

Honi soit qui mal y pense

I notice that pretty much the whole class of Australian politicians will have to be hanged, drawn, &c, for conspiring against Her Majesty, to the end of declaring a Republic. I fear, however, that this won’t happen; that the treason will simply be performed. I am not “up” on the Antipodean situation, and have scanned […]

On public statuary

A newspaper for a gentleman should be full broadsheet, which is to say, in the English-speaking realms, a page 24 inches deep by 18 inches wide — divided, ideally, into six 15-pica columns, in 8-point type with another point of leading to yield about ten thousand words per page (without headlines or illustrations), while allowing […]

Meditation on a potato

My Chief Texas Correspondent forwards a rather fetching picture of a common tuber — a potato — taken against a black background with a high-end digital camera, by the society photographer, Kevin Abosch — an Irishman. He recently sold it to a Continental businessman, whose identity was undisclosed, for one million euros. (I should like […]

The yachtsman

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a foundation of financial insecurity. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea. ‘Cruising’ it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or […]

Snow in New York

There could be no mercy, were there nothing to forgive. This is why Confession precedes Absolution. I’m sure the pope knows this — for he has said as much in his new book, The Name of God is Mercy, a conversation with the liberal Vaticanista, Andrea Tornielli. And it shouldn’t be necessary to point it […]

Snow in Washington

Forty-three years now, the marchers have gone in to the middle of Washington, DC, to mark the anniversaries of Roe v. Wade. It is the world’s largest annual pro-life demonstration. Marchers in other countries commemorate different dates; in Canada for instance, we fill up the space in front of Parliament in May, while the media […]

On political lowness

Diplomacy is war by more devious means. Politics are the continuation of civil wars, ditto. The former are uglier, in spirit, and more so, the better the opponents understand each other. Von Clausewitz didn’t know the half of it. Well, perhaps once again I have aimed under the top, but shot just over. I am […]

Comfort food

As I write, the Dow is 500 down and plunging; the Footsie (London), likewise crashed; and so, everywhere else there is a stock market; while at Davos in Switzerland the world’s leading politicians and movie stars sound pompously glum. All this makes me happy. The race is on, into government bonds, as the IMF begins […]

Nasty surprises

As gentle reader will know, I am very timid, and could never wish to be the first to criticize a pope. Not only do I hesitate, to see who will go first (the Rorate Caeli website, here, is always a good bet), but also because I want to be sure he merits the criticism. I […]

Interesting if true

My title is from some long-forgotten world of journalistic near-integrity. That is, from a time I am old enough to remember the end of, when a “normal” hack was an almost anonymous, flat-foot fellow, who went about gathering “news” from those most likely to provide it, and used his salty judgement about who was telling […]

Pray for Taiwan

Miss Tsai Ing-wen, the president-elect of Taiwan, after winning about three-fifths of the vote in an election this week, has nothing resembling the conventional political charisma, and poses as a quiet old maid. But she doesn’t need it because she has two cats, Think-Think and Ah-Tsai, who are both charismatic. They were able to corner […]