Tasty Tidbits 11/15/11

  1. 40 days.
  2. Making little ones out of big ones.
  3. Neurotic Clown Circus.
  4. Imaginative Empathy Run Amok.


I’m going to attempt to cut back on blogging a lot, effective now through December 25 at least.

The Orthodox Church observes a traditional “Nativity Fast” from November 15 to December 25. My priorities during a Fast should shift, and I’m convinced blogging is an impediment to that.

We’ll see what December 26 brings. No promises. Less than complete abstention from blogging in the meantime.


The goal of all marketing is the reduction of a big desire to a small desire. In other words, you long for beauty, love, friendship, wisdom, and it is the job of the marketer to convince you that the way you will achieve these desires is to purchase a certain brand of shampoo.

(Kimberly Shankman, Dean of Benedictine College, riffing on Benedictine colleague Salvatore Snaiderbaur, at a Notre Dame Ethics and Culture conference.)


No, “neurotic clowns” is not a reference to the GOP debates. Some of the candidates may be sociopathic, but not, I think, neurotic. But there is a similarity: people who’d like to support the GOP may choke when they actually watch the debates.

Which brings me to the real topic. Occupy participants disrupt an Occupy meeting meant to gather greater support:

Activists had planned to interrupt the panel because, some said, they opposed the power dynamic created by speakers on stage talking into microphones.

I have a hot-headed young friend, studying in a former Soviet Republic, who calls Occupy “dirty commies.” I disagreed and still do, but now for one more reason: those few communists that remain in the western world are, I think, serious people. Occupy is a bunch of neurotic clowns.

(HT Rod Dreher) I see this morning that more liberal liberals (versus “conservative” liberals) on the coasts have had it with Occupy. Zuccotti Park got cleaned out, as did Occupy sites in Portland and Oakland.


I do not see a contradiction between recognizing that a) what McQueary did was vile and cowardly, and b) that any of us might do the same thing under those circumstances. In fact, I think plain moral sanity requires us to hold both views. I find it to be a dangerous sentimentality that seeks to withhold or minimize condemnation of McQueary on the grounds of imaginative empathy (“I might do the same thing in his position.”) Yes, of course we might — which is why we need to hold before us, clear in our minds, the despicable nature of such an act, as a kind of vaccination against falling prey to the same moral cowardice.

(Rod Dreher) Exactly so.

I used to get a version of this (“You’d feel different about abortion if it was your daughter”), but it’s the sort of thing someone with too damned much “self-esteem” utters.

Yeah, I’m capable of bad stuff. It’s still bad when I do it. David Brooks writes on the psychology of it today.

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Bon appetit!

Having become tedious even to myself, I’m Tweeting more, blogging less. View this in a browser instead of an RSS feeder to see Tweets at upper right.

I also have some succinct standing advice on recurring themes. Maybe if I link to it, I’ll blog less obsessively about it.