Friday, August 31, 2012

What do you do when you're sick?

Watch nature shows on TV.


Or in this case on YouTube.

Cool BBC documentary on recent discoveries about Archimedes.

Was suddenly violently ill last night. Started vomiting at ten pm and was up all night. I think it was something I et. After my stomach had finished panicking, I commented on FB that having survived C, one tends to think of one's self as indestructible and impervious to all lesser illness or injury. It was cancer after all, and was going to kill you, and instead, you killed it. You feel ready after that to take up grizzly wrestling as a hobby, and you tend to forget that things like flu and food poisoning can still happen to you.

Fortunately, being up all night has lately become something of a habit/strategy to deal with the horrific late Italian summer heat, so I'm not as badly off as I would have been otherwise. Tummy still pretty delicate though, and not exactly bubbling over with energy. So it's a good day to lie around, sketch Winnie, mess about with my new set of watercolour pencils and watch nature shows.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and would start spontaneously vomiting the night before school out of sheer panic at the thought of the next day. I hated school in the 2nd grade more violently and psychotically than I did at any other time. It was probably due to the shock of being back in Canada, among the North American child-savages and teacher-sadists that were such a contrast to the relatively civilised English variants I'd known up to then.

I will never forget the name of my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Lakowski, who was one of that wretched breed of creature that gets into teaching specifically to have a room full of helpless test subjects on whom to act out her most treasured vengeance fantasies. Her favourite teaching technique was a gentle combination of screaming insanely and humiliation and her cruelty was matched only by her smarmy, treacly sweetness in the presence of parents.

I had been rather sheltered up to that point, (it was still decades before the English school system had rocketed to the bottom of that ol' slippery slope) and the kids I'd known up to then, while not exactly friendly towards me, were at least not encouraged to be bullies. It was something I'd never experienced before. Eventually, my rather hapless mother, not knowing what to do with this kid who was getting more and more terrorised by school, decided that a less structured, more "free and open" environment was the answer. Unfortunately, the structure they threw out at the hippie "free school" was things like classrooms and instruction.

Anyway, suffice to say, I spent a lot of time at home sipping chicken broth and watching PBS.


'Nother awesome naturalist 'blog

With lots of beetles.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to learn stuff

When I was a kid, my report cards were always a very mixed bag. I had terrible marks in French since I had never been given any instruction in French until the fifth grade, and by that time the other kids were so far ahead of me, the teacher, quite openly, refused to try to teach me anything. I will never forget the only time she spoke to me in class on my first day in the fifth grade. She asked me to conjugate some verb. I asked her what "conjugate" meant and in response, she curled her lip and made a disgusted sound, and went on to the next kid. I spent the rest of my school years looking out the window during French classes until the day I left school. No one cared at all to teach me French, and I didn't care to be taught, so that was that. I never had the slightest intention of leaving the West Coast, and who speaks French there? We'd have been better off learning Cantonese.

And I was hopeless at maths because my mother, whose undergraduate degree was in mathematics, had tried to teach me and our lessons nearly always devolved into screaming matches ending with me bursting into tears. By the time I was sent away from the experimental Hippie Free School at the end of the fourth grade and enrolled in a Catholic parochial school, I was so terrified of maths that I was to spend the rest of my school career in a nearly perpetual state of panic and despair over the subject. (I still have nightmares about finding myself enrolled in an advanced maths class, for which I am totally unprepared and that is nearly finished by the time I attend class the first time, but upon which all my future happiness depends... horrible.)

Naturally, I was always ahead of everyone (and often the teacher) in reading, grammar, comprehension, creative writing etc. It came so naturally to me that I never thought of it as any sort of accomplishment. The only subject that counted was math, and being good at words was more or less irrelevant. It wasn't until I was in my mid-thirties that I started to realise that not everyone could write. (I still don't quite believe it.) I always figured that if you can talk you can write. Just think of what you would say and write that down.

But the one thing my report cards said consistently from the first day in school in England when I was five is that I knew a lot of stuff. I've always had an absurd amount of what they called "general knowledge". Always top marks for knowing piles of trivial nonsense. I was given my first library card when I was five and used to spend hours every week buried in the non-fiction stacks burrowing through books on any subject you can imagine. The other contributor was the set of encyclopedias, art books, biology and taxonomy texts and history books, as well as a subscription to National Geographic which was the only contribution to my life ever made by my maternal grandmother.

The other thing was documentaries. Nature shows on TV. The only TV I was ever interested in was Star Trek and nature shows. Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, National Geographic, Nova, Jacques Cousteau, Marlin Perkins, David Attenborough and even those little two minute TV spots by the National Film Board. I LOVED nature shows.

Here's a bunch more documentary sites


Top Documentary Films


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gotta get me one!

Looking at technology and science websites last night. Found some wonderful things.

Did you know that there is an aeronautics company that is developing cargo airships?
Yes, you read that right. It makes you think that maybe thousands of helium balloons lifting up a whole house and sailing down to the Amazon isn't that far-fetched.

They require very little ground infrastructure, no flight crew or air traffic control (which is done on board by the co-pilot) and can be landed like a helicopter on nearly any flat bit of land. They can go into climates that fixed-wing aircraft can't go like the high arctic, very tall mountain regions, even on the surface of water, and can withstand an incredible range of external temperatures.

They can be used for ground surveillance and to drop of cargo, supplies or "humanitarian aid" to horrible places where no aircraft can land. Most incredibly, they have the advantage of being able to carry thousands of tonnes of stuff, things like heavy equipment, tanks, containers worth of supplies.

And they can stay in the air for three weeks. One guy working to develop this technology said it's not so much like a slow airplane, but like a fast ship, that doesn't have to stay on the ocean, but can deliver the goods right to the middle of your disaster zone.

Oh MAN do I ever want one of these!

I think one of the best signs that the world is getting better, coming to its senses, will be the proliferation and popularity of dirigibles for travel.

And they have a blog!

Also, microscopes...

I wanted a microscope especially keenly this month. The leaves of my precious (and now gigantic) hibiscus plant started yellowing and falling off. I was greatly puzzled since there seemed to be no sign of a bug infestation. But upon consulting Wiki, and looking very closely with both my magnifying lenses, I discovered that it was infested with red spider mites, which are too small to see unaided. The only give-away was a nearly impossibly fine webbing strung between the teeth of the leaves, so small it was almost invisible even with the lenses. Fortunately, they responded well to a little aphid spray.

Then there was the business with the scale insect I plucked from one of my balcony plants. It was carrying a huge egg sac which looked fascinating under the lens, and which I would loved to have love to draw if I'd had sufficient magnification.

I wish I could go back to my 20 year-old self and say, 'Stop all this futzing around, and go to England and study biology. You'll be much happier as a field naturalist working for British Wildlife than a pro-life activist." But maybe it's not too late to do something with this interest.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thomas Kinkade's hellish surrealist landscapes

If there are kids around, I'd suggest not reading this post until after they're in bed, since the sight of these horrible graphic images might upset them, and scar them for life.

Upon close examination, Kinkade’s rural dystopias appear to possess the following common themes:

1) Hellish glow seen emanating from every closed window to every sealed-up cottage, clocktower, inn, horse barn, church, etc. All of Kinkade’s structures seem consumed from within by raging infernos. What might be laughed off as artistic excess suddenly trickles icily down your spine when you realize that Kinkade’s rustic incinerators are operating at full tilt regardless of the time of day, prevailing weather conditions, and the particular season depicted in the painting!

2) All of his structures bear multiple chimneys that are exhaling thin, vertically-stretched spires of exhaust smoke which are indicative of extremely hot fires within, and of virtually no air movement without. Again, these chimneys are operating in all seasons and weather conditions. Why are the fires burning so hotly all the time? What’s cooking? You don’t want to know!

3) There is an inexplicable absence of people, despite the presence of livestock, abandoned agricultural implements, raging chimney fires, what have you. In Kinkade’s peaceful landscapes, it seems as if a sort of aestheticically-directed neutron bomb had detonated, leaving standing only the charming buildings, bucolic beasts and majestic landscape...


Let's play a game!: name your obscure heroes

I was looking at my book shelf the other day (thinking I spend more time on the internet and less time reading them than I'd really like) and noticed that I like a great number of people whom the world would think very odd and obscure writers. It got me thinking; perhaps one of the things we can do, perhaps the only thing, to counter the evils of the celebrity-worship culture is to adopt another type of hero.

I'm betting that in our little O's P circle of readers we have amongst us a wonderful array of interesting, obscure and forgotten people who have influenced our thinking and lives who should be made more generally known.


name ooooh, let's say, four, interesting writers, artists, political thinkers, philosophers, adventurers, explorers, warriors, gardeners, scientists, saints or relatives who have strongly influenced you to think and behave independently of the general crowd of our degenerate post-everything anti-culture.

I'll go first.

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, the writer, professor and literary philosopher who I most want to be when I grow up. He more or less invented the notion of studying literature as an academic field, and instituted the chair of English literature at Cambridge. Of a long and fruitful lifetime of works, including the monumentally important Oxford Book of English Verse (of which I think I have at least two editions) Sir Arthur's work that got me thinking about literature in a new way was his address to students in 1916 that was later published as "On the Art of Writing".

He was the inspiration for the character of Ratty in the Wind in the Willows (my first literary influence) and invented the adage for all writers of fiction, "murder your darlings."

Roger Tory Peterson
whose bird books got me started as the (half-assed) amateur field naturalist I am today. When I was eight, or so, I saw a TV programme about him and knew, right then, that I wanted to be a field naturalist artist when I grew up. (Too bad real life intervened so brutally about then, but that's another sob-story).

Sir Thomas Browne
the wacky 17th century English doctor whose book Religio Medici was condemned by the Vatican and demonstrated that pure, and very endearing, bull-headed English attitude that with the right sort of education, an Englishman can just damn well write about any subject he pleases, and to hell with the facts. His description of elephants will make you fall on your face laughing.

His literary style is the very model of a 17th century Protestant gentleman, and his whimsical spelling and random capitalisations are a delight to behold. I have a very nice three-volume edition of his collected works given to me by the late, great John Muggeridge from his father's collection which I treasure. His religious ideas are proof that what we today regard as nutty liberalism, born in the 60s, has been the mainstream of Anglicanism from its earliest days. But from a literary viewpoint, he, with John Donne and John Evelyn, epitomises all that was best and worth preserving about post-Medieval, early modern Anglicanism, and will do very nicely as part of the booty when we bring them in.

Blessed Margaret of Castello
who was a dwarf, born blind and hunchbacked with a gammy leg in 13th century Italy. She was rejected by her shallow, noble parents who wanted none of their rivals to know they'd spawned such a misfit. She was locked up in a kind of hermitage for most of her childhood where she was allowed only to speak to the parish priest and the servant who brought her food from her parents' palace.

Then, when she was 20, her parents took her to the town of Castello where miraculous healings were rumoured to be taking place, and when after a day of prayer she failed to be miraculously restored, they walked away, abandoning her to the streets. She was at first adopted by beggars and street people who protected her and taught her to beg. She became known in the town for her great holiness and cheerful disposition and was eventually (after many adventures) allowed to join the early Dominican Mantellatae, the third order for widows who wore the habit and took vows but did not live in community.

As a mantellata, she cared for the sick and poor, and especially visited and talked to poor prisoners, converting all of them. She was a wonderworker, putting out house fires with her cloak and healing people of blindness and cancer and all manner of things, including one little girl whom Margaret healed after her own death, rising briefly to life from her funeral bier to stretch out her hand to heal the girl.

She remains incorrupt in her glass Snow White coffin in Citta di Castello, Italy. And just as soon as I get it together, I'm going to work out the Trenitalia route and go see her.

I adopted Margaret as my patron at my confirmation because she was abandoned by her parents and in her whole life was not bitter and was never heard to criticise them for it.

...and if I'd said seven obscure heroes, I'd have added Fr. Frederick Faber (WAY more holy than Newman), John Ruskin, and Richard Lack for nearly single-handedly rescuing Art from the abyss of postmodern nihilism.

Oh, and Roger Scruton, for telling the entire academic philosophical world they're full of shit;

And of course, John Muggeridge who didn't let his famous surname make him into a twit, and who showed me that it is possible to overcome one's personal failings and become a saint in ordinary day-to-day life. Yes, I said it; John was clearly a saint and the three years I lived in his house totally changed me and my life.

OK, now you.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Arty "salon" for men

From the always-wonderful Underpaintings 'blog,

Titled, "l'Atelier" by Horace Vernet, 1822

All the contemporary paintings I've seen of the old classical ateliers make them look like a kind of gentlemen's clubhouse or a men's version of the ladies' salon. A lot more than just drawing and painting seemed to go on in them. Doubtless there was lots of interesting talk about art, politics, religion etc. Several of these people are smoking!

I wonder how much the infiltration of women into this masculine domain, that started in the 20th century, contributed to the collapse of the classical atelier tradition in art instruction.

For my part, it looks irresistably fun, interesting and attractive. If I had lived at that time, I'm sure I would have found the company at such a place above much more engaging than a dull, stuffy salon any day. (How many salons included spontaneous fencing?!) So I can understand why chicks wanted in. Women are boring. Men are fun.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

New 'blogs: the male perspective

Dr. Helen: mostly about how sucky the feminist world is. She's written a book about how the hyper-feminized culture has excluded and systematically discriminated against men, particularly in matters pertaining to marriage, childrearing and divorce. I'd like to review it.

I'm starting a list of blogs by and about men and their view on the world, sexuality and other big issues. Some years ago, I started understanding how much damage feminism has done to men, how it has excluded them from domestic life and from the authority they should have in the home.

Apparently, there are not a few men who have noticed it as well, and the "Manosphere" is the result. There are many manifestations of this, with a wide variety of political opinion, but they seem mainly to be of either conservative or libertarian point of view in the American political sense, and among the latter, that is, libertarian end, to hold not only feminism but women in utter contempt. I think this trend, along with the execrable section of it of "Game" players - men who have dedicated their lives to a materialistic form of hedonism and the luring and using of women for short-term sexual gratification - appears to have been an offshoot of the sexual/feminist revolution in which men have said, "Fine, you want us to throw off our protective role? You've got it, honey."

There is a lot of anger in their writing at the wholesale emasculation of men and the hardening of women, which I can certainly understand, but their hatred of family and marriage seems like a dying patient hating and fearing the cure. A great many of them come across as being as childish and self-centred as the brainwashed women they criticise. Nevertheless, I think their observations about what feminism is doing both to men and to women, and to our societies as a whole, are worth reading. Food for thought, at any rate.

There are a lot of others, like our new friends Joffre the Giant and the Ignorant Redneck, who have taken a less self-harming mode. These more balanced characters seem to have one thing in common that the more angry and embittered men's writers do not; Christianity of a serious, intellectual and strongly devotional stripe.

I am still reading and collecting data about them, but as a whole, the men's bloggers are a very interesting internet phenomenon. They are very much akin, I think, to the early Catholic Traditionalist movement, who found each other and developed a network in cyberspace that helped us understand what was going on in the Church and the world. I should have been reading them for a long time, and don't know how I could have missed them until now. I'll pass on the more interesting bits to you lot and we shall see what we can make of it all.

The Private Man

The Rational Male

Alpha Game

The Spearhead


Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh me too!!

I LOVE the internet, I really, really do.


Why do men put up with this crap?

So, you guys know you're bigger and stronger than us, right?

I was just reading this thing on PJ Lifestyle, "5 Things women do that secretly annoy men" but might just as well have been titled, "5 Things men shouldn't let women get away with, but are probably too fed up to bother themselves over". We have a culture (well, the secular world has a culture) that says to men, "Just put up with all this crap, because eventually you'll get sex." Like the little scrap of cheese at the end of a behavioural psychologist's maze.

Every single one of the things that are presented as harmless little quirks of womanhood, are actually examples of why I can't stand women at all, and frankly, don't have much patience for the men who kow-tow to them. Who, in short, fail to correct them. Women, like children in our time, behave badly because no one has the guts to teach them any better, so we all suffer from the apathy of the men in their lives, either their fathers or their husbands/boyfriends.

Maybe most men just want a quiet life and don't want to go to the trouble of correcting their women. I can understand that. Maybe if there is no deeper character there to encourage, the best solution really is to just find someone more honest, more interesting, less whiny, neurotic and childish to hang out with.

But this little article, and the thousands of others like it, are not actually describing women. They are describing the bad habits, the character flaws to which women tend to be prone and which feminism has taught them nurture. Women, quite frankly, have been allowed by the feminist culture to develop their worst character traits, some of which are serious and harmful to herself and others, because men have allowed themselves to be bludgeoned into silence and passivity.

But if you're really with someone you care about and want her to stop, I can't really see how it is helpful to let her get away with it.

Every single one of these things is a trap, a no-win, particularly set for a man as a kind of game to see who gets control of a situation. And here's a tip, if you play along, you lose. If you "win" by following the rules, you lose because you have lost her respect, and honestly, failed to help either her or yourself. Women do these things to test men to see if they are strong enough to stand up to them and stop them from behaving badly.

But here's the kicker: women can't fix these problems by themselves and need your help to stop. They are, likely unconsciously, turning to the men in their lives and using these games to ask for help. It is an irony frequently commented upon that feminism has made women miserable. And here is a perfect illustration of how. And how it can be turned around by a man who is not afraid to be a man and take a leadership role in his relationships. Men who remain silent for the sake of short-term gain have only themselves to thank for ending up either alone, on the serial monogamy hamster-wheel, or married to a shrew. By all means, if those are the things you are after, keep on nodding and agreeing.

And let me tell you, all women try to play these games. Sometimes, if she understands what she's doing, it's harmless, and can be ignored or even briefly indulged (as long as you poke fun at it a bit, which will help her understand that there are limits). But most of the time it can be very damaging because it is has become a habit and a lifestyle and an unconscious method of manipulating the people in her life.

I do it and I've been lucky enough of late to have been surrounded by honest people who expect better. My mother did it and she wasn't and it ruined her, and eventually she lost all sense of moral or emotional honesty.

I will also risk the observation that honest behaviour from women is much more common in the believing, faithful Christian world than it is in the secular realm where emotional manipulation and game playing seems to be the rule of life, even among political conservatives. I suppose this is mostly because of the sex thing. If you watch sitcoms, it's all over. The reward for letting her behave badly is sex, which can be withheld or granted entirely according to her whim.

The question for a man should be, do you actually love her? Because if you're not just using her as a disposable human sex-toy, then you've got a job ahead of you.

Let's look at them one at a time:

1) If you don’t want us to fix it, why did you bring it up?
When men have a problem, we like to figure out how to deal with it so that it frees our thought processes up for debates about who the greatest home run hitter of all time is (Babe Ruth) or whether you’d be more likely to catch a venereal disease from Paris Hilton or Snooki (Snooki). So, if two men are talking and one says to the other, “My boss is being a real jerk. I’ve had a vacation on the schedule for three months, but he’s asking me to work next weekend. It’s not even an important job! Anybody could do it!” he’s hoping to get a solution to his problem.

Is there a way to save his vacation? Should he quit his job? What should he say to his boss?

This is why men tend to be mildly irritated when a woman talks about an issue and just seems to want him to commiserate. “Oh, I can’t BELIEVE she said that to you about your dress! Who does that ratty b*tch think she is?” Doesn’t get anything done. So, we can pretend to sympathize, but we’ll be biting our lip to keep from explaining what to do the whole time.

Well, I'll tell you: this is one of the worst traps. What she's looking for is affirmation that it's OK to keep gossiping and feeling sorry for herself. Very few women look upon problems as anything more than an excuse to gather and nurse their petty resentments.

Don't play along. Don't take the role of "understanding female friend". If you play along, nodding politely and making the kind of noises women are supposedly hoping for, she will never learn to deal with her life in a realistic way. Here's a hint fellows, she doesn't want you to be the woman in her life. If you try to be, she will never stop, she will never learn that moaning and whining, while failing to do anything about her problems, is actually making her feel worse. And it will never improve either her situation or her character. She will never learn the pleasures of honesty, what it feels like to be in charge of her own life and to deal forthrightly with difficulties. If she is in this habit, it means that absolutely no one else in her life has ever called her on this, so it's up to you. Sorry.

If there really is a big, huge problem, and you are both doing whatever can be done to deal with it, then, and only then is it time for emotional sympathy. And I mean only real things. Things that are so scary and awful that the fear, depression, sadness and grief are a huge part of the actual real problem. Cancer. Death of a loved one. Loss of a job.

Or if they are less devastating things that don't actually have any solution, but make you feel legitimately bad anyway. I would certainly expect loads of sympathy when Winnie dies, for example. It's not the end of the world, and there's nothing to be done about it, but it's perfectly OK to be sad or angry about it.

But it's an unfortunate fact that women are prone to being whiny, backstabbing gossips, concerned with meaningless trivia, who love nothing more than to blow this stupid stuff up into a huge deal in order to manipulate a lot of sympathy. Women often don't actually want to resolve their problems or interpersonal difficulties. The culture has endorsed this behaviour and called it "sensitivity" and "nurturing" and told women that it is some kind of virtue. There is a kind of sickening, soul-deadening pleasure in complaining and being "commiserated" with, much like the nauseating thrill of a drug fix. And if you play along, you're only offering her more of the drug, when she's looking for a lot more from you.

The feminized culture has taught her that there is nothing in the world more important than how she feels about a situation, and has emptied her head of anything else; everything in her life revolves around her personal soap opera. She is, in short, addicted to a kind of emotional drug, and she's looking to you for a fix. You are helping neither her nor yourself if you give it to her.

If you were to do something as honest as helping to solve the problem, she would be obliged to do what a man does and solve it, forget about it and get on with her real life. The problem is, that the culture has left her without one, without anything real or substantial to think about. She hasn't got a real life to get back to once the problem is solved. She and the entire feminized culture has made the soap opera into the only life she has.

When you turn around and calmly say to her, "I can either help you solve this problem, and then it will go away and you will feel better, or I can commiserate, but understand that this is your choice, not mine, and I am not going to spend the rest of the evening doing it. My commiseration will not be natural or voluntary, and it will make neither of us feel better," she will be forced to, well, man-up and face the reality of her own behaviour and expectations. She will also, if she is the kind of woman you want to continue to be with, begin to recognise and alter her manipulative behaviour.

She probably needs to be instructed in the kind of game she is playing, how it is hurting her and how it is hurting your relationship with her.

2) Tell us how hard women have it.
Maybe 100 years ago, when they couldn’t vote and were expected to stay in the house away from books lest it throw their underpowered feminine brains into a tizzy, women had it harder than men. However, it’s just not true anymore. There are more women graduating from college than men. A woman can abort a man’s child and he has no legal say in the matter. Men are discriminated against in divorce court. Men can face sexual harassment charges over practically nothing. Our society has become much more feminized. This doesn’t mean men have it so bad that you should feel sorry for us; it just means that men roll their eyes when women talk about how good men have it.

Wrong. Stop rolling your eyes, and start helping her understand how harmful her unconscious feminist-trained assumptions are. Yes, just sitting there and taking it, failing to correct her asinine ideas, will probably get you sex in the short term, and if that's all you want, then fine. But if you want to be really in a relationship, you'll have the guts to (ahem) solve this problem. It's one of those delayed gratification things that grown-ups are expected to learn.

And if she starts shrieking feminist slogans at you, then you've learned a valuable lesson about who not to date. If she stares at you open-mouthed because this is the first time she's ever heard anything like this, then you might have a winner on your hands and it's worth trying to educate her.

3) Then there’s the whole toilet seat thing.
The average man could not care less whether the toilet seat is up or down. It means nothing to him and if women simply said, “The toilet seat is down for me all the time and I’m not used to it being up! I would be SOOOOOOO grateful if you left it down when you finished...

Instead, we get, “The toilet seat is always supposed to be down! You left it up! You’re doing it wrong!” Well, no, that’s not “wrong.” There is no arbitrarily correct way to leave the toilet seat and it’s no more trouble for a woman to put it down than it is for a man. If you want the toilet seat down, just ask nicely and then be patient until we can form a habit.

It may sound silly, but apparently this and things like it, are real problems. And I can tell you why: because she's making it one. She is looking for a way to control you with her rage. By facing her down and making the calm suggestion that she help you by reasonable reminders to develop a habit that would be more convenient and pleasant for her, is not going to work if you have established a pattern of passivity. She is going to go in assuming that she has to start shrill and move from there to shrieky if you have allowed her to deal with you this way on other issues. If you start by using the calm and authoritative tone, she will respond in kind. Two mistakes to make are to rise to the shrieking, to lose your cool, to concede the fight to her, to fail to be the one in charge of the situation; or to ignore her and hope it goes away.

4) We’re expected to talk way too much.
There’s this stereotype that says women love to talk and men don’t. There’s probably a little truth to that, but the real problem in that area between men and women tends to come from the topics women want to talk about. As a general rule, most men aren’t very interested in talking about their feelings. Also, the mundane details of their day? Where they went to lunch? Who said what to whom? Not only are men not interested in discussing these things, they’re afraid if they do, it might prompt the woman to spend 15 minutes telling him all the details of her day.

Also, because many women tend to over-analyze, they assign all sorts of deep meaning to trivial gestures and then demand explanations. Sometimes a rose is just a rose and five minutes of silence is just a man thinking about what he has to do at work tomorrow. You want to get a man to talk? It’s not hard. Ask him to explain what’s going on in a UFC fight or what his favorite sexual fantasy is and you’ll have trouble getting him to shut up.

OK, let's break this one up.

1) We have said above that a woman doesn't really want to "talk about her feelings," she wants to enjoy feeling bad and will be annoyed with you for insisting that she stop it. You have a choice before you, either to indulge her, to set limits, or simply change the subject to something that interests you both. I had a boyfriend once who got fed up with me complaining about my job. He finally said, "I think this is just making you more miserable. How about a rule that says you get 15 minutes of sympathetic complaining and then you have to either finds something positive about work to talk about, or we change the subject and talk about movies or something." Because he was honest about it, it worked like a charm, and I realised that he was right. It helped me cheer up at the end of every work day and in the long run discover that I wasn't happy with what I was doing and make a change.

An even longer time ago, I had a close friend who was also sort of feeling around the world and trying to figure out how it worked. He also would worry that long silences were an indication of something bad. Maybe I was mad, or he had said some Wrong Thing. But, being a man, he solved the problem by simply asking, "Is this the kind of silence that means something bad, or is it just because we're hanging out and don't feel the need to fill the space?" And he expected me to answer as forthrightly. Over the years, it got to be one of the most trustworthy friendships I've ever known, because we both knew that if there was a problem, it could simply be addressed by asking. We're still friends today, and it's been ... good grief! it's been 30 years!

2) "The mundane details of the day." Once again, either suck it up or set limits. And you don't have to be blunt. You can be clever and steer the conversation to deeper and more interesting topics. Women tend to focus on trivia, but it's just a tendency, a temptation if you will, and can be defeated through effort and application. Maybe give her ten minutes to run through the whole thing, asking specific questions when it gets too dull. Then take ten minutes to run through yours, and then you can talk about movies. But find a gentle way to remind her that trivia is just that, and isn't very interesting.

3) "Over-analysing". OK, this one may be a genuine indicator of a problem. Women over-analyse the things you do and say when they are insecure and don't believe you are trustworthy. She wants you to talk because she's scared of what you might be thinking and not telling her.

This can be a really big one and very hard to break if she has had a lot of disappointment in life. Sorry, but this one may take a lot of patience. But that does not mean "sympathy" or pattings-on-the-head. You need to do it the Man Way, and tell her, forthrightly, that you do in fact understand her fears, but that she has no actual concrete reason to fear. A big part of this will be to coax her out of herself. With this kind of anxiety, it gets worse and worse the more her universe revolves around it. Fear makes a person selfish and the more you help her to undo the knot of fearsome thoughts, the happier she will be and the more she will be able to focus her attention on you, instead of herself.

Also, women in a certain segment of the culture have been taught to look at everything in (pseudo, pop-)psychoanalytical terms, but not being trained by anything other than Oprahism, don't know how to tell when they are being told the truth. You are going to have to be patient and teach her how to think with her head, and not out of her fears. Fears will tell her things that aren't true, and if you don't learn to counter these lies, she will believe them and not you. (A good resource here would be books about cognitive therapy, which teaches people to undo the knot of lies they have taught themselves to believe, and which are making them miserable.) She will eventually come to trust you, and to prefer living in The Real to living in the awful Fantasy of her anxieties.

Also, also, we have a very frightening culture, and feminism has made things a lot worse by whispering the poison into her ear that men are the enemy and lie and then abandon. Ultimately, she's scared you're going to leave. This fear will be worse and harder to deal with if she was raised by a single mother. She has learned a lot of very bad lessons from her own experience, particularly if she has lived in the general sleeping-around culture. Remember, if she's been with other men and is now with you, it means they've all left and she's really thinking that it's only a matter of time for you.

A big thing you can do to help this is to stop "having sex" with her until you are willing to marry her. I once confronted a friend of mine about this who was complaining about the increasing tension in his "relationship" with a woman whom he lived with but was not married to. Eventually, they "broke up" and she left and never spoke to him again, and he was rather battered by the whole thing.

I told him something he said no one had ever said to him before. "Of course she was angry with you. You were stealing something precious from her. You were pretending to a commitment that you had no intention of living up to in order to get something from her that was not yours to take. You were asking her to play a game, and live a lie, a counterfeit and a sham, of something that is enormously precious." Sex before marriage makes people miserable because it is a kind of theft. And it is theft of something irreplacable. Moreover, you are making her complicit in the destruction of her own happiness.

An even simpler thing to do is, when she asks you (anxiously) during that five minutes of silence, let her into your brain. As I mentioned, she's scared. She doesn't know what you're thinking and I can guarantee that she is sitting there worrying it's something bad, like "I'm so fed up with this, I'm leaving you." And even if she isn't scared, she isn't asking you for no reason. She wants to be included in your inner life. So, don't say, "Nothing." Tell her about your thoughts about your job, even if you think it's too dull. She's really just looking to get let inside your life.

5) Expect us to be mind readers.
Men are not subtle creatures. We tend to be blunt and say what we mean. This is why at some point in his life, every man finds it to be a revelation that women who say they’re “fine” don’t really mean it.

They’re actually upset!

It’s like cracking some ancient code for the first time. This experience tends to be repeated again and again because women are constantly sending out signals that go right past men. When women get indirect, they might as well be talking Chinese mixed with German, “Wang Chung, achtung, Fu-mu hackenderhitzel!” Then it’s, “I’m not telling you what’s wrong! You should already know!”

Then teach her to be blunt and say what she means. You can start by reassuring her that you will be able to take whatever she is thinking about. That you're not made of glass.

All this stuff is about teaching her a better, frankly more masculine, more honest way of communicating. Women do these manipulative things because they think they have to. You will not believe how much happier she will be if you break her of these fear-induced habits and teach her that she is actually free to say, out loud, using words, what she is thinking and worrying about. Her pall of anxiety will lift and you will both be a great deal happier.

Basically, man up and be the leader in the situation. It's really not as hard as you think, and she will love you for it all the more.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hey everybody! Free stuff!

I had a very vivid dream last night/this morning that I had gone back to high school as an "adult student," but it was horribly chaotic and confusing, no one would tell me what classes I was signed up for, where I was supposed to go or what I was supposed to read. I had a math class but it was over by the time I found it and when I asked for the book, the teacher told me I had already failed. Then I went to my Classics class and though they gave us a big pile of books, the only thing we were supposed to do was watch I Claudius.

I have been thinking back on school lately, and wondering why exactly I hated it so much. At the time I didn't think much about why I hated it; I was too busy hating it. But it seems obvious now that it was a stupid idea to stick a kid like me, brought up to a nearly convent-like domestic silence and solitude, into a high school environment full of screeching thugs and half-crazed teachers.

I remember once in a physics class (which I loved) working out how much time my teacher, Bob Schwartz, spent each year telling kids to sit down, shut up and pay attention. I think it was something like 150 hours a year. He wasn't happy to hear it.

Does anyone learn anything in high school? I know I had a lot of curiosity about things, as I still do. I wanted to know about literature and insects and history and weather and geology and languages and music and art and all manner of things. But looking back on it, I'm surprised I was able just to survive it with sanity barely preserved.

Here's a bunch of sites, using mostly YouTube where you can amuse yourself learning about stuff.

500 free courses from "top" universities.

Free Film Noir.

Khan Academy - science and math lessons on YouTube

New Scientist YouTube channel.

Poetry Readings - something to listen to while we draw.

Research channel of the American Museum of Natural History.(Watch out! Scary close-up pics of live spiders on this page! Ick!)

Arkive blog: lots and lots of nature videos to bring out your inner amateur naturalist.

The BBC teaches you Italian.

Learn Italian on iTunes

Let's learn Italian in five-minute increments

Lots of other languages.

Pilates exercise videos

Bunch more Pilates vids.

Documentaries, documentaries, documentaries.

Atlantis! Dinosaurs! Freemasons! Alien conspiracy videos!

Art of the Western World video series

The Western Canon: audio course on the civilisation-building literature

and The Western Tradition, for those who couldn't afford TAC.

Real Classics: Xenophon's Oeconomicus, a year-long audio course from St. John's College in Annapolis

Learn to draw with John Ruskin's methods: Oxford

Aesthetics and the philosophy of art: Oxford



Got a lot of time for Norbertines


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Redneck alert!

New blog:

Redneck Reflections


Ah, goodie! The good old "rape exception"... my favourite stick for beating pro-aborts

I’m not an American, and though for some reason lots of people seem to think I should have lots of opinions about the US election cycle, I’d like to reiterate that really, it’s not my country and it’s not an electoral or governmental system with which I’m very familiar. Ask me about British politics, Lords reform, EU membership or even the infighting in Canada’s Parliament, and I’m all over it.

But now and then an American poltician says something that wakes me out of my late Italian summer torpor.

Todd Akin, a US politician, said something about abortion, pregnancy and rape recently and has received the usual response from the shrieking harpies.

He said that in cases of "legitimate rape" the woman rarely gets pregnant.

As ever, the fact that it is true has done nothing to stop the shrieking.

I do get tired of making the same points over and over about the "rape exception" but apparently it needs to be said again:

Oh, so now suddenly we support the death penalty eh?

But apparently only when it is applied to the totally innocent children of rapists.

More on this later.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Mickey

It's Michael Voris's birthday today. He's 51.

From one over-the-hill, bull-headed, right-wing, backlash-kid has-been to another...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

La Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid - Op. 30 n. 6 (G. 324) / J. Savall

And here's the whole thing with the added bonus of Jordi Savall

Don't say I don't take care of you people.


Boccherini and Russel Crowe

One of my favourite composers in one of my favourite films played by one of my favourite hunky alpha-male actors.

Time for a short bracing shot of unabashed masculinity, I thought.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Or it could be the bad suits

Now, I agree with nearly everything the TFP believes in and am fighting the same things they're fighting...

but even they've gotta admit, they're kinda geeky.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nerd Cred

As a giant fan of superhero action flicks and a former avid reader of X-Men comics in the 80s,

I get this.



Though for some time now even the tiniest flicker of desire to be a nun has entirely vanished, and it no longer gives me The Sigh (some of you ladies will know whereof I speak) I still like to nungaze on occasion. (I would like to say for the record that I invented the term nungazing, which I have noted has gone around the Cathosphere for a while now thanks to Kat's having adopted it from my old nun-posts...without ever the least nod of attribution I might add.)

I don't really understand what happened to my nun desires. I remember them quite clearly, and know that I first decided I wanted to be a nun, contemplative if you please, by the time I was eight. I pursued it semi-seriously in my 20s and more seriously in my 30s and then one day, it just stopped. Like someone shut off an invisible switch.

They took a blow, along with nearly every aspect of my religious inclinations, when John Muggeridge died. I spent about three months not caring about anything after that. More or less just lying face down on the floor not eating and focusing on breathing as shallowly as possible. I got up later and started living again (since there didn't seem to be any alternative) but since then - and I realised with a start the other day that it has been seven years! - I have struggled to find any joy or enthusiasm or even interest in religion. Having had a good deal of time to think about things recently, it's clear that the succession of events, a lot of which I've not written about publicly, has really knocked the stuffing out of my "faith life". (Good grief! how I loathe frivolous God-talk!)

Oddly enough, living in Italy has significantly reduced my day to day involvement with the Faith. One would think that proximity to the Pope and all those incorrupt saints lying around in their baroque Snow White coffins would be sort of inspirational. But things have happened, let's just say.

Cancer treatment left me largely housebound and these days the trip into the City is hugely troublesome. A day in town must be paid for with two days in bed, and the rest of the week exhausted and draggy. I had a burst of energetic going-into-the-City in the spring when drawing classes started again in April and a kind donor gave me a huge whack of money to pay for nearly full time lessons for the spring session. But it was clearly way more than I was ready for because by the end of May I was so exhausted I could hardly move or think straight. I guess there's only so much I can force my poor old battered body to do.

Yesterday was a holy day of O. in Italy, as well as a national holiday and the start of Ferragosto, and it was impressive how many of the Italians observed the obligation. But my immobility combined with the insufferable, suffocating hot weather made going into town out of the question, as it has for several months, and the only thing going in S. Mar. of course, is the NO. There's a little chapel around the corner where they have Sunday and Festa Masses that only rarely employ bongos. Yesterday, and I assume througout the summer, they take the Mass outdoors instead of making us sit in the tiny chapel, putting plastic lawn chairs out on the bocce green next door. It wasn't unpleasant, (except for the rasping, off-key, caterwauling female "cantor" whose enthusiasm for singing directly into the microphone did nothing to encourage more than a little thin warbling from the congregation).

But I'll be perfectly honest: it was the first time I've been to Mass in several weeks and it did exactly nothing for me, except to make me more cranky and out of sorts. For the last year, I have been more or less dispensed from the Sunday Mass obligation and it has done nothing to encourage or bolster my flagging enthusiasm. I dutifully played the part at Gardone, but peer pressure is a poor substitute for genuine devotion, and it's only too easy to look pious.

But I've not given up. I don't really know why a thing that has been so integral, so much at the core of my identity, has suddenly fled but recently I've learned to roll with the punches and be patient. Things develop and often take time. Healing takes time, no matter how imperiously one commands one's brain and body to obey. It seems that I am the only person (apart from Christopher) over whom my bossy mind-powers have no effect.

I think I'm thinking about it more because someone I know has decided to go all the way and join the Carmelites, and it has opened the door to some rather dusty old mental and emotional closets. I think I have an idea what is going to happen to her inside. The World and its doings are going to become increasingly distant and irrelevant. I've experienced this just on the few short visits to monasteries. I recall that it was a bit of a job getting the old brain back into the business of caring about politics and All That after coming out. The world inside a monastery is a different sort of place. I suspect that it is more like the way God sees the world.

I find myself equal parts annoyed with K's decision and more lonely at the thought of it. (Yes, yes, I realise that I am supposed to be happy for her, but it's like using phrases like "faith life" and signing emails with "in Christ"...fine if you can fake it, I suppose.) It is acting like a dredge at the bottom of a very old river and bringing things up that I would rather allow to continue to rust away.

Now and then I test the old nun-obsession by doing a little nungazing of my own and it's always the same. Nothing. It's just not there, that old thrill.

John and I used now and then to spend an evening in his sitting room or in the little library downstairs. I would read aloud to him for a bit and we would sometimes say the Rosary together. I don't ever remember being happier than these little moments. But now when I think about them, all it does is hurt. And it's the same with most of the happy things in my past. My worst dreams are always the ones where I revisit my grandparents' house Up Island, that blissful little pocket of glowing childhood happiness and security. Those are the worst nightmares I experience, and the agony of waking up from them and finding myself back in the here and now is even worse than finding myself back there again. I always know when I'm feeling domestically insecure: I dream that I'm back there and wake up crying.

One thing I've learned is that we don't really ever "get over" pain and loss. We just learn to live with it. Or maybe it's just me.

Maybe that's a hint as to why my brain can't stand to think about God n' Religion any more: it seems like happiness that I can't ever have, like finding the Door to Narnia, and having it be locked. It's probably why nungazing now only makes me faintly sad. I think I have convinced myself at least that having had cancer, and having been cut apart to stop it, hasn't meant the end of meaningful life. But things are certainly vastly different now than they were before diagnosis, and before coming here, and before leaving Canada and the Oratorian Empire. In some ways better: I'm less fearful, less intimidatable, but also less able to be happy. My capacity for joy seems to have diminished. And I miss Cheshire.

We'll have to see what happens next, I suppose; I'm placing a lot of hope in art and in Seeing More of Italy in the coming months of chemo-free goodness. My hair has started growing at something approaching its previous rate (still weirdly curly though) so maybe my capacities will start expanding a bit soon.

Anyway, all this ramble was precipitated by a photo and a news story about the SSPX Dominican nuns of Wanganui, New Zealand. The rumour is that the Vatican Cong. of Religious has approved someone transferring from a NO convent into theirs. If true, this would be quite a good sign. And it reminded me of the hour or so I spent looking all over their website and daydreaming about them. For a short time, it was fun to imagine that I could retire there and teach drawing and painting in their little school. I could wear tweed skirts and twin sets and invite the girls to tea and teach them to make Victoria Sponge cake and drive the nuns to their doctor's appointments and things. It was a peaceful hour and felt sort of almost like the old twinge.

I suppose I've been sharing too much again. Sorry.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Every day in every way

the pansexualist movement is revealing itself as Nominalist.

"But now you can choose whether to be male, female, or something else—and when the American Psychiatric Association releases their new manual, it will be perfectly normal."

Oxford Shorter English Dictionary:
Nominalism. The view which regards universals or abstract concepts as mere names, without any corresponding realities.

If "gender" is anything we say it is, no wonder the people in the Modernity Matrix are all so miserable. Imagine living in Upsidedownland, a universe where the real is only what we decide it is from moment to moment, where the walls don't have to hold up the ceiling, where up can mean down, where there is no difference between here and there and two opposing things can both be true.

But don't try to imagine it for too long or you might hurt yourself.


Big stat spike today

Can't figure out where, we must have picked up a link somewhere along the way. Normally the stats are steady at about 400 a day (a little higher than I'd like, but I haven't done a purge in a while) but today we've already shot up to over 600 and it's not even eleven am in Tranna and DC.

Gosh, look at that! 685!

Who are you people, and where are you coming from?

The new version of Blogger has all sorts of fascinating little bits of info about where y'all are reading from. Let's see...


I wouldn't have guessed the Netherlands, would you? Who do we know there?

Netherlands 375

United States 238

Canada 52

Australia 31

United Kingdom 29

Italy 19

Indonesia 15

Costa Rica 10

India 6

Philippines 5


A note on "texting" and the meaning of literacy

I don't have much to say about The Great Chicken Feed earlier this month. I was generally pleased to see that the average person in the US is not ready to be bullied by the politically correct cowards running their country, but beyond that took little interest. It's not my country, after all.

But there is one little thing that really bugged me about it. The name of the company, "Chick-Fil-A" is a perfect demonstration of the general illiteracy that is growing as the world turns more and more to reading internetese rather than real language. The name, "Chick-fil-A" doesn't make sense to a literate person. You have to be functionally illiterate for that combination of letters to make the mental "sound" desired by the company's founders.

This is the reason "texting" doesn't work on me:

I can read.

It finally twigged why combinations of letters like "ur" for "you are" don't make any sense to me, and can give us a hint of the origins of the general loss of the ability to read. It's not just the internet that has left us unable to read deeply and with attention.

There are two distinct problems going on in a collection of letters and symbols like the following:

"Hate it when ur tired but get in bed & u cant sleep."
To a literate person, putting these letters "ur" and "u" in place of words does not produce the desired result. For those of us raised on reading, this produces first incomprehension, then irritation at the unnecessary extra work the texter is making us do, then contempt and disgust for the person's total inability to function as an adult. What it "sounds" like in my head is, "I hate it when err tired but get in bed and oo can't sleep."

Here is how language works when you can read.

A word on a page does not look to us like a collection of letters to be interpreted into a sound. It simply makes a mental sound in our heads, and that sound is connected to a meaning. There is no separation of time or understanding, no extra work involved, between looking at a word in print and "hearing" the sound it makes in your head and understanding the meaning of that sound. Those three tasks are one automatic mental function.

So to a literate person, the combination "ur" makes a mental "sound" like "err". We do not look at it and mentally hear "yoo ahr". This is because we have been taught to read at an early enough age that the appearance of the letter and the sound it represents are one and the same. We don't look at a word and start by identifying by the names of each letter, then translate each letter into the sound it is intended to represent.

We know there is a difference between the sound, the phoneme, for which the letter is a symbol and the name of the letter in the alphabet.

The name of the letter "u" is pronounced "yoo". But the name of the letter and the sound it symbolises are not the same thing. So to replace the English words "you are" with "ur" doesn't make sense to us. In fact, it trips us up and leaves us going back to the beginning of the sentence and trying to figure out what it says.

When a literate person reads, the text isn't text. It's sounds. So "ur" reads in our heads as "err". And it interrupts the sense that the texter is trying to convey.

So, to the ever-shrinking world of the genuinely literate, "Chick-fil-A" makes the "sound" in our heads: "chickfillah".

No word of a lie, it took me at least two weeks to figure out that it was supposed to be some sort of cutsie deliberate advertising "miss-spelling" of "chick filet". And it only came clear when I watched a news video about the whole thing, and then I went rapidly through the process of "incomprehension, irritation, contempt and disgust".

I remember once many years ago my mother describing this problem when she was telling me about teaching remedial English. She had noticed that there was a problem, that was already getting worse in the late 1970s, with kids connecting the appearance of a word and the sound it makes. They had been taught to "sound out" a word by laboriously identifying each letter, then going back and imitating the phoneme, and then dragging it all together to make one sound and then imposing a meaning, a process so irksome that the kid just gives up out of frustration and boredom, and looks upon reading as a tedious chore, probably for the rest of his life.

To start with, they had not been raised reading books. No one had read them stories at night before bedtime, or they had been given books with large pictures and only a single line of monosyllabic type, books that were ostensibly designed to encourage them to read on their own and so were dumbed down to the lowest possible level.

Traditionally, adults read books to children that were considerably above their initial reading level. A.A. Milne's poems and stories were written not to be read by the child, but by the parent to the child. As the child gets older, the idea is already instilled that a book contains wonders and pleasures, that a book is a treasure trove to be unlocked, or a door to another world. The parent continues to read books that have real characters, real adventures, and he naturally wants to read them on his own. When a parent gets up in the middle of the night and finds his son reading a novel under the covers with a flashlight, he knows the task is accomplished.

But now, if parents read to kids, it is from those books with child-like pictures, no characters with whom he can identify, little text at all and no real stories, no depth or literary meat on them. No one has ever read a book to him that transports him to another world, teaches him anything, arouses his imagination or, crucially, makes him long to read it himself. If he is looking at anything under the covers in our time, it is porn on his laptop.

Even in 1979 when my mother was teaching, it was already happening. Kids were not interested in words because they were nothing but chores, unpleasant work that needed to be got through before the bell released them from the soul-crushing tedium of the classroom and he could go home and watch TV. He never learned to make the connection between letters, words, sounds and meaning, let alone books and joy.

My mother had to explain to me that when some kids saw a word, it didn't make a sound in their heads. They had to stop and "read" it. That is, figure it out in the painful, tedious way they had been taught. So it was no wonder they didn't do it unless they absolutely had to. This, she said, is the difference between genuine literacy and the "functional illiteracy" that had become the norm, even before the 80s.

Then, along came Atari.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I love this show.

The fifth and last season is starting in a few weeks. If you haven't started watching it, you better get moving so we can all talk about it later. There are four 22-episode seasons to get through, and the plot is complicated.

On yer bike. Hippity hoppity...

(You know who you are.)


Blacque Jacque Shellacque

Zee roughest, toughest, muklukest Canuck in zee Klondike!

Looney Tunes' only Canadian character.

For years, I always thought of him whenever anyone mentioned the name Jacques Chirac.


Church Militant TV blog

Michael and the gang have decided to join the argument.

I'm a pretty regular viewer of the Vortex. I skip some of the ones about US politics because I don't follow it closely enough to get some of the jokes. But lately their theological ones are improving, gaining a little more depth, and losing some of their previous NovusOrdoist tendencies.

Go over and give him a little poke for me.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012


Click fullscreen.

Seriously, do.


My new favourite blog

Joffre the Giant on buxom wifely obedience.


Mansome: "Real men don't 'Tweet'" This reminded me powerfully of my stepfather, Graham, who though very troubled in life, was certainly a real man, and being a marine engineer, also smelled of diesel fuel.

It also brings to mind a recent conversation with a male friend about Jane Austen (which he had, of course, read). We were discussing the relative merits of Willoughby and Col. Brandon.

"As a guy, of course, I hated Willoughby instantly."

Good manly instincts there, I think.

~ * ~

Lately I've been getting very annoyed by the response of the churches and prelates to the "gay marriage" thing. They go on and on about how wonderful marriage is and never, ever talk about what needs to be talked about. They're afraid. Not a very manly thing.

"Homosexuality among Christians: not a gift, but a deep wound."

"International Women's Day Meditation: feminism is bad for people"

And I think there's a big something missing in the whole discussion. Women are not going to believe this until men tell them. It's part of our nature. We need to be guided and protected by men, and as long as men don't tell women that feminism is bad, and doing bad things to them, they will keep hurting themselves, and men and children and the whole world with it.

Women are not constitutionally disposed to believe other women. Men need to say it.

Use your authority, given by God, and tell us the truth.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The giant catapult one

This was the best. Still cracks me up.


The Song of the Pelagian Heresy for the Strengthening of Men's Backs and the Very Robust Out-thrusting of Doubtful Doctrine and the Uncertain Intellectual

Pelagius lived in Kardanoel
and taught a doctrine there
How whether you went to Heaven or Hell,
It was your own affair.
How, whether you found eternal joy
Or sank forever to burn,
It had nothing to do with the church, my boy,
But it was your own concern.

Oh, he didn't believe in Adam and Eve,
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began with the fall of man,
And he laughed at original sin!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
He laughed at orignal sin!

Whereat the Bishop of old Auxerre
(Germanus was his name)
He tore great handfuls out of his hair,
And he called Pelagius Shame:
And then with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly thwhacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall,
They rather had been hanged.

Oh, he thwacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions,
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong
Their orthodox persuasions!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Their orthodox persuasions!

Now the Faith is old
and the Devil is bold
Exceedingly bold. indeed;
And the masses of doubt
That are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in sturdy youth,
And still can drink strong ale,
Oh -- let us put it away to infallible truth,
Which always shall prevail!

And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword,
And for howling heretics, too;
And whatever good things
our Christendom brings,
But especially the barley-brew!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow
Especially the barley-brew!
Hilaire Belloc


Want one more?

Another reason not to eat sugar and to drop the carb intake:

Turns out Alzheimer's is a form of diabetes.

Researchers are calling it Type 3 Diabetes.


Monday, August 06, 2012

Violence on TV

When I was a kid, I thought that Arizona was the most dangerous place in the universe, where idiots had built roads that ended without warning in precipitous 1000-foot drops off cliffs and huge boulders would fall on your head out of a clear sky.


Carl Stalling

One of the greatest unsung musical geniuses of the 20th century.


What to do with your spare goat

Remember my "Italians are all nuts" post a few weeks ago? About the bagpipe festival in Molise and the giant Italian bagpipes made out of a whole sheep?

Here's a guy who took the family business to California, where I guess there are more goats than sheep.

(H/T to Cracked and as always, a big "Hi John!" to our long-time bloggie friend Six-Bells-John in California, you mad, piping Traddie, you!)


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Nerves of jelly

Here is why I am nervous about starting colour

This is a painting, in pastel, of a white thing on a white background.

How many colours are in this "white" painting?

How on earth do you begin to see this, and to make these kinds of decisions about colour?



Well, today I did something unusual. I have said that the art course I'm studying is very specific. You do one thing at a time, you master one technique before you move on to the next. It's like math. You simply can't start with Trig.

But I was just feeling so cheery today, that I cast all hesitation aside and bought pastels. Two sets.

Now I'm feeling a bit glum and anxious about it. The usual worries are flooding in.

As I wrote to a friend this evening,
"If you have studied art in a serious way, you will of course know that there is a huge pile of stuff to be learned long before you get anywhere near a set of paints. All this business of contour, value, perspective, line, gesture,'s all very complicated. Amazing, really, to learn in such detail and depth just how much goes into the common human act of seeing a thing and interpreting it visually. The progression of the classical drawing and painting course is extremely systematic. Andrea tells me that people call her all the time demanding to be taught to paint without learning to draw, then get mad at her when they find they can't be as good at it as they want to be. She seems pleased with me as a student because I am very insistent about mastering each thing one step at a time and flatly refuse to jump ahead. In fact, I've deliberately avoided reading things about colour, and even have avoided YouTube videos about colour theory.

But today, I just felt so good, and I was looking to blow a little bit of money in the art supply store and the colours were so pretty, I couldn't resist. I've also got a packet of watercolour pencils, four tubes of acrylic paint (sssshhh, never say the A-word around Andrea!) and a set of Windsor and Newton drawing inks. Of course, I have no idea whatever how to use any of it, and colour still intimidates the heck out of me, but I thought it would be fun to fool about with it. Maybe try copying something.

It's a big move. Maybe as big as the jump from copying from the flats to drawing from life. Maybe bigger. But when I switched officially in class from pencil to charcoal, I had already been experimenting at home with the technique. Of course, I sucked at it, but I think it was worthwhile to be bad at it for a while and not to worry about it too much. It helped when the time came to receive actual instruction. At least by the time I started instruction with charcoal I understood what the problems were, which when you're learning something completely new is half the battle.

I remember how terrified I was when Andrea first told me to come to a figure class. And I really was awful the first time. After that, I got it, and realised that if you are having every conceivable problem thrown at you in the first three hours, you are at least getting all the major problems out into the open, and identifying how to tackle them, straight off the bat. And sure enough, after the first figure class, I had the hang of it and shot forward. I still think I'm terribly slow, but this seems to please Andrea even more since she says she is always trying to get her students to slow down and take more care..."

Remembering the lessons I learned from Grandma, I think I'll start tomorrow with an apple. Or maybe an onion.

Something that is going to become important to me, I think, is depicting happiness. I don't want to be foolishly pollyana, but there's so much pain in the world, and so many of us are steeped in worry and depression that it's only too easy to forget that we were created for joy. Not always in this life, but sometimes, surely.

What you can do with pastels


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

None shall pass...

Stories like this used to abound in the SCA. We always thought they were mostly apocryphal though.

(Yes, yes, I'm an uber-nerd, we've established this. Do try to keep up.)


Birnam Wood

A friend is in an agony of frustration because he owns a lovely house full of beautiful family heirlooms and antiques in civilised B________, Pennsylvania but works in Detroit and does not make enough money to keep an apartment and a house at the same time. He's casting desperately around for solutions while living rather horribly by sharing a house full of other people, like a college kid, though he's otherwise a bona fide grownup.

He's just mentioned that the only solution he can think of is to sell his (fully-paid-up, mortgage-free) house, and buy one in the countryside outside Detroit, which seems to me like the solution of selling Rivendell and getting a little place on Dagorlad with a great view of the Morannon and Ephel DĂșath.

Still, it looks as if the problem may eventually solve itself. Detroit seems to be going back to the wild. If my friend just stands still long enough, the countryside will come to him.

~ * ~

Also, from the same 'blog, how to make your kids happy: give 'em swords and armour.

Violent? Dunno whatcher talkin' about. I was given a shield and wooden sword when I was a kid, and I turned out just fine!