Saturday, March 30, 2002

The New Yorker: The Critics: A Critic At Large The book is "Wittgenstein's Poker" (Ecco; $24), by the British journalists David Edmonds and John Eidinow, and it has become an improbable best-seller. It's a terrific book, a fuguelike account of everything we know and don't know about a ten-minute squabble between two great and ornery Austrian-Anglo-Jewish philosophers, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper—the wise man I went to see. The squabble took place in 1946 in a Cambridge tutorial room, where Wittgenstein either did or did not threaten Popper with a poker and Popper either did or did not, when asked by Wittgenstein to give an instance of a moral rule, say, "Not to threaten visiting lecturers with pokers."

Friday, March 29, 2002

Went to the mall of doom today after the service. Ran into several friends there. Saw "Death to Smoochie". It had gotten a favorable review on NRO, but from a reviewer whose name I didn't recognize. He said it was "funny". I have to disagree. Unless you find cussing (there it is again) to be funny in and of itself, there's not too much to recommend in this film. The kids song, "my stepdad's not mean--he's just adjusting" was pretty much the highlight. I found myself wishing I'd seen Gosford Park instead.
I wasn't quite sure at first if this was in good taste. In fact it probably isn't, but it's VERY funny. The Q&A with Victor Davis Hanson and the comments on Baldwin are notable.
Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for this one. I'm quite used to laughing a democrats and republicans, but I believe this marks this first time I've gotten a good laugh at the libertarians.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

I am currently fascinated with pres. Hoover. Quite unlike, I believe, any other president we've had. Self made man. Self taught scholar. Holder of sixty eight honorary degrees. Saved more than one European country from starvation in WWI. Had the longest ex-presidency of anyone. Believed strongly in, and practiced an astonishing amount of, private charity. And possibly sank lower in the public estimation than any other pres.

An interview with the people who brought us spam. I should have checked more closely to see if their personal e-mail addresses were in there somewhere.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Finished reading Telecosm yesterday. If there's a computer geek out there who can write better than Gilder I'd like to meet him. Quite a number of historians I've read don't write nearly as well. I suppose the biggest fault in the book was that he listed Global Crossing in his stock picks at the end. But hey, it's hard to predict the future. GC just had an ordinary business failure, despite all the hype. They weren't Enron.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

In response to my most recent deaconpaul quiz, blogulations go to Mark "Not Related To Lena" Horne. What can I say about Mark that hasn't already been said. Well, actually quite a lot. You can learn a lot about someone just by living in a dorm room with them for a year. Fortunately Mark is a completely different person now. I'll just share one quick Mark-story. I believe it was at his urging that we decided to do some early morning roommate devotions for a brief time. It may have been scheduled as a once a week thing-- I forget. In any event, we were reading selections from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest. This lasted only until we each realized that we hated his writing style and were getting nothing out of it except a loss of that most precious sleep time in the early hours. That was my first and last experience of roommate devotions.

On a more serious note, I consider Mark a great friend. My introduction to many great things and ideas came through him, as well as much encouragement during my first few single years out of college. Although Mark is always easy to pick on (if you know him "in the flesh"), I've always had the greatest respect for him both as a scholar and a person.

Small kudos to Valerie for coming in second with the translation. Its fortunate you didn't win, as it would be pretty hard or me to qrite about you. I suppose I could have just made stuff up ;)

Saturday, March 23, 2002

So last week I was vegetating in front of the tv somewhere aound primetime and caught about the first two minutes of a show called Crossing Jordan. Happen to catch the name of one of the actors: Mahershalalhashbazz. I scratched my head for a moment, then suddenly realized I knew EXACTLY where the name came from. I will be happy to blog adulations to the first deaconpaul reader who responds with where the name comes from. (You may use either the comments or email me --both will be time stamped.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Comment section now available. Fire away. (at least until it breaks down)

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

We were the enemy, we who wore the grey robes and waited with eager anticipation for our King to return. I saw the Savior not as a martyr who had died for us but as our legitimate King, who would return, claim his kingdom, and rule with justice and truth over his own people. An Empire ruled subject people, but our King ruled only his own. We would not be enslaved by him, forced to adopt the customs of the Empire; we would share his customs as our own; they were our own. And where his people ended, his rule ended; that was a rightful kingship compared to the tyranny of Caesar.

It would be necessary to teach my wife certain codes, the use of meaningful terms to notify her when one of the Romans was in our midst. We constituted a voluntary secret community, who scratched cryptic signs in the dust; we had special handshakes to identify ourselves to each other; collectively, we waited for the coming event to free us. Outwardly we appeared the same as Caesar's people, and taht was our strength. The question that gripped us was not, Would our King return? but, Would we be able to survive against the Romans--by stealth, since we held no wordly power--until he returned? . . .

a passage from Pkilip K Dick's Radio Free Albemuth. Just so you know, the "rome" he's referring to is the Nixon administration. It's, as the kids say, kinda messed up.
I want to thank Jim and kristen for having a lovely luncheon with me yesterday. It was good to be able to put a face to a blog. Side note: doesn't "hey blogface!" sound like a good insult? Also, to Jim, I happened to notice just after I dropped you off a group of college kids with maroon Minn. shirts on. I noticed last night that the U. Minn. women's b-ball team was paying UNC here. Too bad you didn't catch a ride with them.

On a more general note. Until a get a real comment system, feel free to email comments to me. If you put the word "postable" (is that a word?) in them and keep the cussing to a minimum I'll be happy to post them.

Speaking of cussing, it's come to my attention that one or more elders from my church may be looking at my blog from time to time, so I may have to watch the cussing myself. Someone in my small group said recently "you only cus around people you are comfortable with". I believe he wasn't speaking directly to me. At least I hope he wasn't . . .

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Alright, I'm overdue on my book reports to ya and I know you've been waited on the edge of your ergonomic computer chairs. I'm afraid I'm going to be a bit terse though, especially since my memory has faded by now, but here they are:

John Hood, of the terrific John Locke foundation, has recently written a volume entitled Investor Politics. Mr Hood is an occasional contributor to NR(ODT) and occasional guest host on WPTF here in the triangle. Somehow before I began reading I had developed the impression that this book was about the rising "investor class" and how they would be a "force to reckon with" in the future of amreican politics. Fortunately I was wrong and the book is much better than that. It is in fact an analytical history of the relationship between the US govt. policy and investing.

Mr Hood, in fact, attempts to start at the beginning (or before the beginning if you are a creationist) with some hypotheses about pre-historic man's discovery of trade and saving. The majority of the book dwells on US political history though. I won't attempt to summarize his outline, but I will say I was impressed with his thorough and fair analysis of such subjects as social security and the home mortgage interest deduction. Hood's strongest point, though, is carefully argued policy prescriptions. While his viewpoint is certainly that of a free-marketeer, he always argues inductively, citing study after study when proposing policy changes. Such a careful balance between history, political thought, and policy suggestions is rare in my readings.

My other review for you is of a novel. David Mitchell was born in Lancashire in 1969 (my year of birth as well), but has been living and teaching in Japan for some time. His 1999 novel, Ghostwritten, certainly has an oriental flavor to it. Each chapter in the book is from the perspective of a different character, all in different places in the world. The range of writing he used to accomplish this simply astounded me. I would strogly advise that you find a copy in yor local bookstore and read the first chapter, written from the viewpoint of a Japanese terrorist cult member. Quite disturbing, yet quite believable. Anyway, none of the characters in the book actually know any of the others, but their lives are all inter-connected in strange and suprising ways. Hard to adequately describe without giving away important plot points. There is a bit of rough language in some parts, so I won't recommend this to the squeemish. I was just hooked though. I might have to read it again to pick up some more deatils (and I NEVER read a book twice).
I think my favorite guide to strange things on the net is my friend, the factcat. This is far from the strangest, I suppose, but I can't say I ever thought about people doing this. To each his own.

Friday, March 15, 2002

I'd like to welcome all the new deaconpaul readers (I'm assuming there are some, as I've gotten a couple of pleasant e-mails). I am not, as Chris Garrett seems to think, the "czar of the web", I've just taken advantage of some very simple technology tools which my friend Mark Horne original pointed out to me. If you have any interest in making your own page like this, just click of that little blogger link or go to, or e-mail and ask for directions. If this were difficult, I certainly wouldn't be doing it. Don't have time tonight for the promised book reviews as we have some cleaning to do and there is, of course, basketball to be watched. Stay tuned tomorrow though.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Made it back from Cleveland tonight. Glad to be home. Cleveland was somewhat eventful.

First, apologies to Dawn and Jason for not getting in touch with them while in Columbus. We didn't have much time there. We arrived in Columbus late on Friday and went up to Strongsville on Saturday for my father-in-law's retirement party. Unfortunately, quite soon after we arrived a tree fell accross the street, knocking out the power and blocking the only exit. We had to call the party to tell them we didn't know when we would be able to get there. The city actually cleared the tree out fairly quickly so no one had to wait too long.

The party was fun, though I didn't realize that "cash bar" meant you had to pay $1.50 for a coke. No biggie. All the old co-workers told stories about my fathr-in-law's days working for the FAA at the airport. They also gave some nice gifts including a congatulatory letter for Rush Limbaugh, which I thought was very nice.

We returned to the house late in the evening to discover that the power was still not returned, so we headed to the "retirement" home in Massillon to sleep (we being Lenise and I, Lenise's sister Mindy, her brother Erhen, and his fiancee, Jan). Up in the morning to head back north to church. I forget the name of both the church and the city it was in. The pastor, however, I remember. His name is Ted Pelikan (I believe a relative of Jaroslav), and he preached a pretty good sermon on the blind man who was healed and then questioned by the pharisees.

Visiting a church of another denomination (in this case ELCA) always causes me some reflection on how church is done, but ultimately I thought of Chesterton's comment about traveling abroad, to wit, one goes abroad to learn to truly appreciate what one has at home. I don't mean that as a criticism, I simply concur.

Anyhow, back to the narrative. The in-laws had planned an after church feast for family and some out-of-town friends. However, the power still had not returned and the house was getting quite chilly. It was ultimately out for 25 hours. We ended up at Pizza Hut, which happened to be almost empty, so we had plenty of room.

Not so much excitement the rest of the trip. Lenise had to go through all her old stuff in her old room to prepare for her parents moving later this year. She hates to throw things away, so I had to help in that area. We got to watch the movie The Patriot, which I thought was just wonderful, if a little one sided. I got to finish two books also. But they probably deserve a separate blog, since this one's already long and I should probably unpack.

Friday, March 08, 2002

OK, herer I am, blogging from my sister-in-law's place in Columbus. She sends her warmest greetings to deaconpaul readers (since, by some quick, it's actually warm in Columbus at the moment).

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

This falls into that category of things you probably hadn't thought of, but make sense now that you mention it. The question is: What single company has had the largest influence in technology development in the last seven years? The answer is here. I always thought there had to be a good reason to like them.
I just want to take this time to thank Jay Horne for blogging less often than me, thus making me feel a lot better.

Check back here on Friday. If there's nothing new here then, there probably won't be anything until the end of next week. I'm leaving Friday morning to go up to Cleveland to my fther-in-law's retirement party. Might get up to Michigan as well. We'll just have to see.