Tasty Tidbits 8/22/11

  1. Clark Carlton continues series on Naked Public Square.
  2. Electric cars.
  3. “Poor white trash” atheists.
  4. When anomalies loom large.
  5. Fried food.
  6. The guy really loved his outboard motor.
  7. Fr. Z’s Litany for the Conversion of Internet Thugs 2.0


Beginning March 21, Carlton has had a series of 5 (so far) podcasts on “The Naked Public Square.”  I don’t know if it’s really “philosophy” (although logic is part of philosophy), so I don’t really know whether Clark Carlton is speaking as an expert when he talks about the complicity of the two major parties, the brilliance (and utter failures) of Marx, and how the capitalist system bought the acquiescence of the proletariat with essentially meaningless trinkets called “shares of stock.” And that’s just Part 5: The Marketplace.

Frankly, I don’t care if Carlton’s expert on this or not. When someone says “the Emperor has no clothes!,” I’m going to look at the Emperor, not the impudent truth-teller’s credentials.


There are some interesting comments about electric cars, including some technical comparisons, after Ann Althouse posted on why there will never be an electric Ferrari.


I was trying to cut down on internet ephemera to make time for reading more real books (well, mostly Kindle books, though there’s a formidable queue of dead trees, too — some on topics I’ve “outgrown”). If he keeps this sort of thing up, Walter Russell Mead of The American Interest and ViaMeadia will be spared the cut for a while.

According to the American Sociological Association, the uneducated and the poor (often of course the same people) are dropping God like a hot brick; the ‘bitter clingers’ are increasingly better educated and more affluent than the unchurched.

It is also very bad news for the poor.  The rich can actually get along without much religion; one of the nice things about being rich is that money can frequently shield you from the consequences of a weak character and bad decisions … The poor aren’t so lucky ….

I detest utilitarian arguments for religion, and Mead’s argument certainly smacks of that. But I’ve long lamented that the loutish behavior of the rich celebrity types sets a poor example, which gets emulated with devastating effects when the poor try it without the shield that money can buy. That bothers me more than them “getting away with it” temporally.


Chaos theory in science, I’m reading, met with a lot of resistance in various ways. Mathematicians, for instance, tended to deny that Madelbrot was one of them because he paid too much attention to nature rather than pure, elegant abstraction. But at the same time, biologists, whose mathematical chops were never up there with those of, say, physicists, had no room for him, either.

Yet chaos theory is a big deal — not just a temporary change of perspective (“let’s look at this facet for a while”), but a transcending of the current perpectives:

Once you get over the hump, and you understand the paradigm, you can start actually measuring things and thinking about things in a new way. You see them differently. You have a new vision. It’s not the same as the old vision at all—it’s much broader.

(Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick) What’s interesting to me in this particular quote is how much like this my “conversion” to Orthodox Christianity feels, yet how resistant others are.

What does it take to shake someone out of mental/spiritual inertia to where they’ll make the effort to “get over the hump” and “understand the [new to them] paradigm”? I can only assume that it’s the “looming large” of anomalies or “chaos” the current paradigm doesn’t fit. And that’s why I have tended in this blog to poke fun at “foibles” that are really more fundamental than foibles. I’m trying to make them loom large.

I don’t think I’ve blogged at length about my conversion to Orthodox Christianity. The anomalies or chaos in Protestantism that riveted my attention (once someone got my attention) were

  1. The proliferation of thousands of denominations and hundreds of thousands of “independent” or “unaffiliated” Churches, with quite incompatible beliefs even if they shared some common terms and emotions, despite sharing a commitment to a Bible that was supposed to be clear and adequate to lead them into all important spiritual truths.
  2. The realization that, in contrast to what I saw in the Protestant world, when the Nicene Creed said “one holy, catholic and apostolic Church,” it meant each of “one,” “holy,” “catholic” and “apostolic,” but that I’d been “spiritualizing away” those attributes.

Those two “hit me where I lived” to the extent that I was willing to consider how things were before the Protestants broke off from Rome and before the schism between the Roman Catholic west and the Orthodox east.

The result is not so much some new spiritual equation that “solves” the Protestant anomalies as — well, a paradigm shift. You have to get over the hump to know what I mean.


Having counted calories now for some 6 months, I’ve come to the conclusion that one has a choice between:

  • Avoiding breaded or battered fried foods 95% of the time; and
  • Working like a dog (or working out hard) for hours every day to burn off the extra calories of fried foods.

The second isn’t an option, so farewell breaded loins, au revoir fish and chips. Maybe we can meet again for a brief fling occasionally.

Can I get an Amen?


Decades ago, though I didn’t clip it, I read a humorous classified ad reprinted in Readers Digest. It went like this:

To the party who stole my outboard motor: May your boat capsize in the middle of the lake, and may you drown as your mother runs barking along the shore.

I laughed so hard, bouncing up and down with delight, that I broke a spring in my chair. It tilted until the day we replaced it. That’s why the lack of a clipping doesn’t matter.


Fr. Z’s Litany for the Conversion of Internet Thugs 2.0

Bon appetit!

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