Essays in Idleness


Month: August, 2017

The Google archipelago

On the 4th of December, 1999, I first became acquainted with Google. I know the date because I recorded it, with a pen, in a notebook. My elder son, the techie — then age thirteen — explained to me what a “search engine” is, and why I must use it. Too, why he was setting […]

Santa Maria Assunta

A person who, in her very conception, is freed of the corruption of original sin, cannot die in the way that we who are not are given to dying. Death has no dominion in that case. It was the case of the Immaculate Virgin, as Catholic Christians have believed from the beginning, though it was […]


Robert E. Lee would be mightily offended, to see what sort of rabble imagine they are defending his honour, back here on Earth. He would think of them, and the other trash attacking them, in much the same way. He would look over the New South, and much prefer the old one. But he has […]

Mysterious West

Early Irish poetry can be disorienting, to a poor modernist like me. I refer to verse from the sixth to ninth centuries, in Gaelic and in Latin (often with an irrepressible brogue) — what the Irish call “Old,” to distinguish from their “Mediaeval” verse in the tenth through, say, the seventeenth century. Ireland is special […]

Notes from the sheepfold

An email from a correspondent, who is not in Guam, reminds me to remind gentle reader of a truth I take for self-evident, but perhaps others don’t. We personalize the State. I do myself, when I refer to it as Big Brother, Big Sister, Twisted Nanny, &c. But this is a conceit. As anyone caught […]

Oh no not Korea again

There are conflicts that cannot be resolved peacefully. Perhaps this does not come as news to gentle reader. By “peacefully” I mean with the consent of all parties. Not all wars, not all defeats or regimental extinctions, involve much bloodshed. The Soviet regime, for instance, collapsed with only a murder or two, by trigger-happy border […]


There was a point to yesterday’s effusion, and let me write it down before I’ve forgotten what it was. When we say, “Nothing is perfect in this world,” we do not mean perfection in the sense of “the perfect world of scientific socialism.” (I lived with a socialist once, and would goad him in the […]

Summer reading

As a pretentious young viper, I would sometimes pick fights with my mother over what she was reading. I would examine some paperback she had set down, and pronounce it to be trash. She would agree, with the qualification that “light reading” was the more genteel expression. I cannot now remember what many of the […]

On mercy mild

Jalapeño peppers come in many cultivars: some quite hot and interesting, others mild, dull and, you know, “Canadian.” I first encountered them in a hamburger joint, many years ago. They were then a “new thing.” These were fine, fiery jalapeños, unexpected from any purveyor of mass-market food. I gathered it was an experiment, so to […]

On breaking the law

As the old Scottish jurisprudes taught, and other sages since time out of mind, one cannot break the law. One can only break oneself upon the law. They referred to that “natural law” which underlies all human legislation; or if it doesn’t, the human laws will perish. There are laws in physics and chemistry, laws […]

Rowing to Paradise

My Chief South-Western Ontario Correspondent has got married again, after forty years. The children were in attendance, I gather, and the Church entirely onside, for you see, he made his commitment to the same woman. I recommend these churchings, these “renewal ceremonies,” to those whose first, “starter” marriage was performed in Las Vegas, or in […]