Monday, March 28, 2005

Carols aren't just for Christmas

Here is a classic German EASTER carol, Hilariter

The whole bright world rejoices now,
Hilariter, hilariter;
the birds do sing on ev’ry bough,
Alleluya, alleluya.

Then shout beneath the racing skies,
Hilariter, hilariter;
to him who rose that we might rise,
Alleluya, alleluya.

And all you living things make praise,
Hilariter, hilariter;
He guideth you on all your ways,
Alleluya, alleluya.

He, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—
Hilariter, hilariter!
Our God most high, our joy and boast.
Alleluya! Alleluya!
Unfurl the flags and let the trumpets blow! Enoch Soames has returned. Winter's despair has turned to the hope of spring!

Take a peek at Bunny Diehl this morning, if you get a chance. A lovely visual skewering of non-denominatinal Easter "celebrations." Lots of bunnies and eggs, but not much Christ ... which would seem a problem if you call yourself a Christian church, no?

And that U.S. deserter who fled to Canada "defends" his reasons for going AWOL: "The people over in Iraq, they're not terrorists," he said. "They're not insurgents. They're people defending their country from us. We have invaded them and it's wrong." The sophistication and depth of his analysis, to say nothing of its grasp of reality as well as morality, is striking. Makes Michael Moore look like Plato.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


LORD, who createdst man in wealth and store,
    Though foolishly he lost the same,
        Decaying more and more,
            Till  he  became
                Most poor :

                With  thee
            O  let  me  rise
        As larks, harmoniously,
    And sing this day thy victories :
Then  shall  the  fall  further  the  flight  in  me.

My  tender  age  in  sorrow  did  beginne :
    And still with sicknesses and shame
        Thou didst so punish sinne,
            That  I  became
                Most thinne.

                With  thee
            Let me combine,
        And feel this day thy victorie,
    For,  if  I  imp  my  wing  on  thine,
Affliction  shall  advance  the  flight  in  me.

George Herbert

Friday, March 25, 2005

Ah, the joys of the academy. I thought this type of thing went out in the 90s: Male journalist thrown out of University of New Hampshire "Patriarchy Slam," a radical feminist poetry reading session.

Organized by the Feminist Action League, a radical feminist group that includes students and recent graduates and is not recognized by UNH, the event featured songs about castrating rapists, as well as women wearing scissors on their necks and using the scissors to pop balloons that spelled out "The Patriarchy," according to FAL member and UNH senior Nicole Hentz.

"We made it very clear we didn't want to castrate all men," Hentz said. "The penis is the symbol of power and is the weapon used to rape women and its sort of the symbolic way of saying we were going to take away that power men have over us."


Monday, March 21, 2005

Berlin the last bastion of good taste? Audience members booed and some walked out of an "updated" performance of Wagner's Parsifal. "Parsifal is director Bernd Eichinger's first attempt at opera. He moved some action to New York and dressed knights of the Holy Grail as rockers and punks ... Mr Eichinger's version, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, is set in a landscape of buildings collapsing from fires and explosions and relies heavily on video."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

So Nick Kristof explains why Hilary Clinton is popular with her colleagues:

"Perhaps it's that, according to New York magazine, she surprises other senators by popping up during meetings and asking: Anybody want a coffee?"

Man, is that all it takes? For a second you get the impression that Hils is bustling down to the Senate Cafeteria to hook a few javas for the other kids. Whereas, when you think about it, after taking everyone's order she turns to a Junior Dr. Potomac and orders him to step and fetch'em.

But it's the thought that counts!

And an excellent observation, courtesy of the Volokh Conspiracy, on the Harvard faculty of Arts and Sciences vote of "no confidence" in President Larry Summers:

"They Can't Beat Bush So...Harvard Arts and Science Faculty Votes Against Summers:

It's pretty simple, isn't it? The far left at Harvard is extremely frustrated with political trends in the U.S. Their votes and activism against Bush were not only completely ineffectual, but they don't even have a Democratic governor in one of the most liberal states in the country. So they pick on the closest thing Harvard has to a powerful right-winger: moderate Democrat and university president Larry Summers, who becomes a stand-in for all evil conservative white men, from Bush on down. The far-left faculty finally participates in a vote that it can win, and experiences cartharsis; that'll teach the world to ignore them!"

To which the Ombudsman can only chortle...hah! And hah! again.
I have ignored all post Election John Kerry stories, because I don't believe in encouraging the man. Ignore him, I say, and he will go away. But this story, brought to us by the writer of my current bathroom reading , the PJ O'Rourke, cannot be ignored. The Man Who Wanted to be President is now the Man Who Would be Dictator. The media he argues needs to be "arbitrated". That First Amendment, it has to go. It's too mean to poor John Kerry.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Happy Birthday President Andrew Jackson, born this date in 1767.

Come, stand the nearest to thy country's sire
Thou fearless man, of uncorrupted heart!
Well worthy universal praise thou art,
And 'twill be thine when slumbers party ire.
Raised, by the voice of freemen, to a height
Sublimer far than Kings by birth can claim,
Thy stern, unselfish spirit dared the right,
And battled 'gainst the wrong; thy holiest aim
Was freedom in the largest sense, despite
Misconstrued motives and unmeasured blame.
Above disguise; in purpose firm and pure;
Just to opposers and to friends sincere;
Thy worth shall with thy country's name endure,
And greener grow thy fame through every coming year.

Anonymous poem in the United States Democratic Review
March 4, 1839
Apparently, being an admirer of Joseph Schumpeter is political suicide in Britain. Daniel Kruger, a Conservative candidate against Tony Blair, made the remark that "We plan to introduce a period of creative destruction in the public services." This touched off a firestorm -- why and how is far, far beyond me -- and he decided to drop out of the race. He and Party actually apologized for this.

Now, if I read his use of the term "creative destruction" correctly -- it is highly unlikely he just paired the two words together without any knowledge of their origin -- Mr. Kruger suggested that when it comes to public services, a dash of capitalist entrepreneurship would improve services long suffering in efficiency and, yes, "public service." That once market forces were introduced into these sectors, a pattern of creative destruction would begin, where old ways of thinking and doing business would be replaced by better ones -- hence, destruction and creation at once.

This is hardly revolutionary stuff, unless an Austrian born Harvard economist dead since the early 1950s is your idea of scandal. Joseph Schumpeter in his seminal Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy suggested that this process was ultimately healthy if efficiency and service was your goal, as in all capitalistic ventures it ought to be. He also warned that creative destruction, being extremely attractive due to its tremendous success, was also fraught with dangers, particularly to non-economic social institutions that could not face the rigors of economic rationalism.

But this is about "public services," not marriage, church, social habits and rituals, etc. Are citizens using public services better served by entrepreneurs constantly pressed by competitors and innovations to offer the best and most efficient; or by a government with no competition but instead a guarantee that no matter how bad they fail, the business is still theirs?

What does it say that Schumpeterians are now political lightning-rods?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How about a Moxie? There is a movement afoot to make the 'oft abused soft drink the state beverage of Maine. I have to admit, the first time I drank Moxie as a teenager, I thought it tasted awful, like a carbonated cough syrup. But now I find it rather tasty.

President Benjamin Harrison died on this day in 1901, one of Indiana's finest (here is the New York Times obituary and here is an early sound recording of Harrison himself). A good speaker, a Civil war veteran, but chilly in personality, his presidency (1889-1893) usually falls between the historical cracks as just another Gilded Age nonentity. Perhaps that is a bit unfair.

The journalist Henry L. Stoddard, writing in his 1927 memoirs, As I Knew Them, considered Harrison a great man, "intellectually" sharper than Cleveland, T.R., and Wilson. He was the ablest of them. During Harrison's one term we were at peace with the world, prosperity made new high record-marks, and a calm, reasoned policy prevailed in all matters, so far as the President's influence extended. History, like news, is made up of the unusual, and no important events of unusual character occurred during Harrison's term to bring out the sterling qualities of the man. A ringing endorsement, indeed.

Harrison's personality always seems to dominate any extended commentary; he had the reputation for being cold and aloof. Stoddard, again, considers this a shallow judgment. Earnest, thorough and prudent, he lived up to the great responsibilities of his office; he gave a conservative, constructive administration ... He was never moved to do anything for effect; he had the extreme distaste for what is called 'playing to the galleries.' A politician who refuses to do so runs terrible risks, and Harrison paid the price by having his personality made into a political issue. Restraint was natural with him; he could not honestly be effusive, and pretence he detested. What he said he meant, and what he meant he said ... He was a product of that austere period in our nation's history when it was wrong to dance, wrong to use Sunday except in religious duty, wrong to look upon life except as a serious business. His character developed in that atmosphere and it was not made less rigid by his four years in the Union army. In the end, these traits did his career in. Too many Republicans (like a young, brash T.R.) thought him the "Indiana Icicle," a cold, staring Midwestern politician without the necessary populist touch or the necessary pliability to compromise with powerful party leaders.

Concludes Stoddard, Harrison had one charactertistic that saved him many worries. He never expressed regrets for things done or settled. He would say, 'I did that with the best information and judgment I had at the time. I closed the case then and I don't want to hear anything more about it.' How refreshing today to have an ex-president "close the case" and tell the press that "I don't want to hear anything more about it."

Raise a glass tonight to President Harrison, the Hoosier President. Cheers.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Apparently, if I were a work of classic literature, I'd be ...

Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose: "You are a mystery novel dealing with theology, especially with catholic vs liberal issues. You search wisdom and knowledge endlessly, feeling that learning is essential in life."

I accept.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Two new blogs are on the scene and added to our list. Patronize them lavishly.

In Hoc Signo Vinces
Right Reason

Saturday, March 05, 2005

My dear friend the Ombudsman is certainly correct. We dress, not for ourselves (silly self-expression is an American individualist fantasy), but for other people; we dress so that other people perceive us in a particular way. And nothing gives me more pleasure than to be seen as a young fogey, albeit greying 'round the temples these last couple of years.

Tweed occasionally, bowtie always, polished shoes when the weather is right (I must admit to wearing rather rakish modern boots when our weather turns sour), oftentimes a wool cardigan sweater in lieu of jacket. Neat, pressed, smart, professional. Academics should not be mistaken for bankers or drifters. Trust me, if I could pull off wearing spats, a waistcoat, and a watch chain and fob, I probably would.

A fellow professor came up to me in the library recently and told me of a conversation he overheard between two students. One said to the other, "The only people who wear bowties are Nation of Islam guys and conservatives."

I wonder if they've decided which I am...

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Question for the Manolo

For some time I, and I am sure the others of Dr. Curmudgeon's company, have been wanting to express the high appreciation to The Manolo for his link to us. Truly, we are not worthy.

See today The Manolo's comments on the Martha Stewart, who has been so long in stir that she does not know that the Manolo says, the fashion maniBoris Goua for the poncho, it is now over.

The fashion habits of Dr. Curmudgeon & Co. are, I must confess, varied. Dr. Potomac turns out well; indeed, shortly before Manolo spoke authoritatively on the blazer, I myself saw Dr. Potomac wearing the blazer of cashmere, in a sort of bleu nuit color. It had an impeccable drape, and truly the Dr. Potomac, he looked the man of affairs and authority, even though it was perhaps the casual Friday.

The Style Editor, she is often constrained in her style by the code of feminine dress in Our Nation's Capital. But at a performance of Boris Goudounov at the Kennedy Center, I am pleased to report that she was smashingly dressed in a red silk suit topped with a luxurious mink hat; a tribute to the Russian spirit, to be sure. If the Manolo has the suggestion for the Washington woman of affairs, they would be most welcome by the Style Editor, I am sure, as well as thousands of other DC women.

Dr. Curmudgeon himself, he enjoys the look of the old-style academic. He favours the tweed and the bow tie. The Ombudsman, he is afraid that the Dr. Curmudgeon, he is too recalcitrant to accept the advice of the Manolo. Indeed, the Ombudsman, he thinks that the Dr. Curmudgeon likes to look like the young fogey.

As for the Ombudsman, he has the question for the Manolo. As the Ombudsman is writing a dissertation, a lonely existence which involves little socializing, he dresses like the slob most of the time. He is turning into the 30-something man who wishes to be the perpetual teenager. So far, he has managed to avoid wearing the baseball cap backwards. But he is afraid that this, it is only a matter of time.

So, the Ombudsman he asks: what does the Manolo suggest for the wear of the aspiring young academic on the job market? One does not want to walk into a job interview in a three piece suit; there could be potential colleagues waiting there who are wearing a badly fitting blazer, the jeans, the Birkenstocks, and the grey ragg socks. How can the Ombudsman navigate this social minefield? His heart is aflutter as he contemplates these conundrums, and he desires the Manolo's assistance very much.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I'm sure that the Bunnie, with whom I chatted this very evening at "Conservative Prom" (and yes, she looked super fantastic), would be quick to point out that the man accused of being the BTK serial killer is a member of the ELCA not the LCMS.

But I'm also sure that Bunnie would also point out that this story, the multiple scandals in the Greek church, the pedophiliac priests in the Roman Catholic church, and, well, the scandals and crimes that happen in every denomination, illustrate that all Christians are sinners who live in a fallen world. We hope that those who call themselves Christians would try to lead lives worthy of the name, but we know that we all fall short of that. While we should be distressed then that killers and pedophiliacs lurk among us and while we should root them out, we should not be dismayed by their presence nor let them shake our faith. Instead, as we rightly condemn these crimes and demand that the perpetrators be called to justice, we should cling even more firmly to the cross of Christ, the only source of redemption for us all.
All the Anglican Obsessed...

...Like the Doc himself who want to get an update on the strange creakings and convulsions in the jury-rigged apparatus called the Anglican Communion should hustle on over to GetReligion and check out this post by Terry Mattingly.

OK, OK, I'll tell you how it starts:

Anglican-beat reporters, please repeat after me once again: The Africans pray, the Americans pay and the British write the resolutions.

And the second truth of Anglican corporate life is like unto this: The British will do their bloody best to write those resolutions in such a way that Americans get to keep writing checks.

Thus, to the surprise of no one, MSM reports about this week's Anglican primates meetings are all over the map. No one can agree on who actually said what and if the words they said actually mean what they appear to mean. Ah, those British resolution writers are the best.

This is all very true, sadly. It's the insidious advantage of an Oxford education.

You'll have to scroll down to find the post, but I planned it that way. Because all of GetReligion is very good stuff, and it's a blog well worth knowing. Even the Doc and Bunnie Diehl can find stuff to satisfy their interests, like the views of Cardinal Arinze, or news that the man accused of being the BTK murderer in Wichita is a Lutheran...
The Mark Steyn, He Will Always Have a Special Place in My Heart...

...Especially when he writes things like this:

Four-time Egyptian election winner - and with 90 per cent of the vote! - President Mubarak announced that next polling day he wouldn't mind an opponent. Ordering his stenographer to change the constitution to permit the first multi-choice presidential elections in Egyptian history, His Excellency said the country would benefit from "more freedom and democracy". The state-run TV network hailed the president's speech as a "historical decision in the nation's 7,000-year-old march toward democracy". After 7,000 years on the march, they're barely out of the parking lot, so Mubarak's move is, as they say, a step in the right direction.

RTWT!!! At once!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I am chagrined that I failed to note that Sunday was the commemoration day of one of the finest poets in the English language, George Herbert. I could babble on for hours, or at least many minutes, about the genius of Herbert, and in fact have been known to do so, but it is much more sensible to let "Holy Mr. Herbert" speak for himself.

by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
        Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
        From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
        If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
        Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
        I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
        "Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
        Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
        "My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
        So I did sit and eat.
The Wearing of the Leek

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus! to all those who read Welsh and a happy St. David's Day to those who don't.