Essays in Idleness


Month: February, 2017

A kvetch writes

Gentle readers may stop emailing, to say I have a doppelganger at Crisis (here). I know this now. What makes it especially galling, is that the magazine in question still owes me a few thousand for the last dozen or so of columns I wrote for them (see here), through earlier years of this century. In […]

Maybe, or not

The normal tactic in closely-fought factional politics, whether democratic or no, is to capture the opponent’s outliers. Conversely, we try to prevent them from capturing ours. We look to the opposition benches, and try to pick off those closest to our position, to clinch a vote; they might pick off ours to confound us (in […]

The creation of Adam

Cue Michelangelo and the usual sound effects. The third sentence in yesterday’s Idlepost was to be taken as droll. In it, I projected that from sheer vexation with pseudo-scientific “narratives” of human origins, I would present my own. Stepping into our imagined primaeval swamp, gentle reader and I then immediately disappear. That is to say, there is […]

Fake this, fake that

A great deal of twaddle is published every day on the subject of human origins. But not here, gentle reader. Today, however, I am making an exception. This is because I am teased to exasperation by one of my correspondents, who knows less than he supposes on this topic, and is not even an amateur […]

A direction for tramps

It is necessary to distinguish idleness from tramping. The latter is technically a subset of the former, but also they are opposites, mutually contained. One may be perfectly idle at a single location — Kenko’s mountain hut, for instance, where nothing of any significance is accomplished over the course of many years, beyond what we tediously […]

On statutory holidays

Today, the third Monday in February, is a civic low-traffic day in the Province of Ontario. It is called Family Day because some Liberal politician, good old Guinty McSquinty, decided we needed a day to spend with our families (however defined), to which end he would abridge our labour. I thought we already had at […]

Aphorisms for Saturday

Bedeutung is always richer than Deutung, as sage Balthasar says. He was not the first to say it, but I think he put it in a delightfully simple way. Notice the use of “always” as opposed to often, sometimes, occasionally, &c, as a journalist might write. The truth is embarrassing, because it is always true. […]

Up against the pipes

Does gentle reader enjoy being smeared? Well, I should speak only for myself. I don’t like it. Perhaps I am projecting when I guess that most members of the new administration, Stateside, don’t enjoy it either. Verily, I’ll go out on a limb, and say no normal person (is Trump normal?) delights in being viciously attacked. […]

The no-brainer chronicles

The Trump plan to Make America Great Again consists of some wonderfully simple ideas. One revenue-neutral plank is, for instance, to take taxes off exports, and put them on imports instead. (NB, there is no such thing as “revenue-neutral” in politics.) This will have a positive effect on the trade balance, while usefully smashing up a […]

In case you were wondering

“There are more than two genders.” This, according to a teeshirt with which I happen to agree. In many languages there are in fact three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. In some languages there are duals as well as plurals, too. One has to get used to this. There are, however, only two sexes. It […]

Jim & Florrie

My parents’ wedding was today (in 1948). Though both are now dead, they were able to share sixty anniversaries. It is as if I attended the wedding itself, my mama told me the whole story so many times: such a rich farce, and such a glorious love anthem. They weren’t intending to get married on […]

Brain disease

Without naming anyone — my Enemies List is currently sufficient — I have been thinking lately of what went wrong with several old friends. Sensible when young, always articulate, constant readers and investigators: how is it that they came to be insane? Or perhaps that is an overstatement, for in each case, the subject remains […]


Today is of course Septuagesima Sunday; the season of fasting has come into view. Perhaps the “of course” can be omitted now, that the celebration has been suppressed for half a century, in the “ordinary form” of the Mass. But I think so long as civilization survives, even as a whisper, Septuagesima must stand. And […]