Essays in Idleness


Month: June, 2017

On political pugilism

Further to yesterday’s Idlepost, and by way of reply to several correspondents, yes, the news is crazy-making. One could go mad if one were to take it seriously. I can remember myself, from some half-forgotten time when I was playing journalist, in some side-plot of an ill-constructed play, going perilously close to insane in response to […]

The age of smear

There is, according to a Jewish essayist, whose principal work is included in our biblical canon, nothing new under the Sun. This is worth bearing in mind, for when I describe our times as “the age of smear,” I do not mean to suggest that smearing has not been a feature of politics in all […]

Big red & shiny

Ansa was scioness of a prominent Fennoscandian wood-milling family. In the days before “Scandian” furniture acquired its reputation for knock-down cheap and flimsy, she carried her company flag to the Far East. Youngest of her brood, she was probably the pertest, too, and conducted a Sunday salon in Bangkok to which all mischievous foreigners were invited. […]

The eye is in the beholder

Yes, yes, gentle reader: my heading this morning is some kind of joke. One too many times — the first was too many — I have heard the glib, the idiot expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I have adjusted it, to make some room for truth. For nothing is in the […]

Hoo sez?

The only thing original on this planet is sin. I can document that. A gentle reader or two might reject my scriptural and patristic references — may say that the whole idea is bosh — but in old-fashioned journalistic terms, I’m home free. I can source my claim. Alternatively, if I didn’t source it, I […]

Meditation on an electric lamp

As a Goethean, sometimes almost Hypsistarian, Mehr Licht! kind of guy, I am a great fan of electricity. I love the way it can light up the interior of one’s dwelling, without setting fire to it. Or, usually without doing so. If there is one thing by which I am captivated, in looking upon a […]

The ha! chronicles

There are reasons for everything, yet the reasons are not always the first to occur to a glib and unphilosophical mind. “In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble.” This earnest attempt at bafflegab comes from the abstract of a paper just published […]

Is Realism realistic?

A priestlie friend forwards the review of a beuk about John Senior. (This one.) He was a figure in American religion and pedagogy (died 1999). He was the author of two works that have been extremely influential in a small but persistent circle: The Death of Christian Culture (1977), and, The Restoration of Christian Culture (1983). […]

No cure for a broken heart

The assertion in my heading comes to us via the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography, via the Daily Telegraph, via the Drudge Report. Which is to say, by the usual route from the labcoats through the tabloids. We, or at least that portion of us who take our news on the wing, sans […]

King Kohl

Saumagen is stuffed pig’s stomach. I deeply regret I did not know of it when writing my “Gimcrack Gourmand” pieces, some years ago in the Tottawa Zit. Placed in a Wednesday food section among innumerable hints on healthy eating, and moderate drinking, I decided to lead the opposition. This was the most Catholic thing I […]

Against innovation

We are pressed on every side by the “demands of modern life,” to which, as gentle reader will understand, I am generally opposed. Not entirely, of course, for I am on record allowing the use of electricity, and certain labour-saving devices, on the one condition that they do not disturb the background audio-visual and tactile […]

Prophets without honour

John Galt’s Annals of the Parish is not towards the top of any college reading list, yet read patiently through its very mild Scots English it gives a good account of the Revolution that came to industry and society towards the end of the 18th century, and into the early 19th. Moreover, it does this […]

Avoiding traps

I know a lady — a real lady — who has mastered a most useful virtue. Let us call it, “incuriosity.” Recently it was tested when she was informed — by the usual electronic means — that she had become the subject of conversation among certain “friends.” Pressed for reply, she announced herself bored. Tempted further, […]