Posted by: jackslife | November 30, 2009

Rod Dreher Leaving Journalism

Sad day for fans of his journalism, but hopefully this will be a great change for him and his family!  Good luck Rod!

Posted by: jackslife | November 18, 2009

Going Rogue, the reviews

A couple of different takes on Sarah Palin’s new book -

Rod Dreher on NPR’s All Things Considered

And an even less positive take on Gin and Tacos * Beware, some bad language, and one verbally introduced image that might haunt you for the rest of your life.

Posted by: jackslife | November 3, 2009

The Great Wine Adventure

Those who know me personally, realize that I rarely shy away from an opportunity to become snobby on a new topic.  Previous forays into snobbishness have been music, movies, books, cigars, and beer.  Well, my newest effort is wine-snobbery, which is a medium that lends itself to a level of snobbishness that I have never before approached.  Wine critics are notoriously snobby and condescending.  Rod Dreher recently posted on his blog about a wine book that he was reading, the writer of which has been labeled by a colleague as a “pompous gasbag”.  This description lead one commenter to state that wine writing is “supposed to be pompous gasbaggery”.

There is undoubtedly something about wine that brings out the gasbag in its enthusiasts.  It is hard to talk seriously about wine without sounding pompous or pretentious.  As I have gotten more into wine, I can see where these gasbags are coming from.

I have been a casual wine drinker for quite a while now, but my enthusiasm for wine is relatively new, and can be traced pretty directly to two separate events.  The first event was a recent trip to visit my father-in-law in the Washington wine country.  He was gracious enough to share some of his collection with my wife and I, and to take us around to some of his favorite wineries.  One of the wines that he shared with me was a 2006 Bookwalter Preface Cabernet Sauvignon that, to use a typical wine phrase, rocked my face off.

The second event was my friend Matt introducing me to Gary Vaynerchuck’s podcast, Wine Library TV.  Imagine if the OxiClean guy were to make a show about wine that maintained an erudite take on wine, combined with Masters of the Universe action figures and a New York Jets spit bucket, that show would end up being Wine Library TV.  When you first hear a wine critic go on about all of the things that they taste in wine, you wonder if it’s all just a bunch of horse poop.  Vaynerchuck is always talking about the currants, cassis, black cherries that he tastes in a wine, as well as less appetizing things like road tar and gym socks.  Why would anyone want to drink Essence of Gym Socks?

Since we got back from Washington Beth and I have tried several different wines, and it’s been fun to start being able to pick out some of the complex flavors of wine.  The variation between different wines is amazing.  Not only is one varietal of wine different from another, but wine can vary from one label to another, from year to year, and even between individual bottles.  More experienced wine snobs will tell you that a wine is alive, and that on any given day your wine will not taste exactly like it will on any other day.  I don’t know about all that, but I have been growing in my appreciation and experience with wine.  There’s nothing like sniffing a glass of wine and just letting the complexities wash over you, drinking all of the subtle aromas.  How’s that for some gasbaggery?

Posted by: jackslife | October 22, 2009

What have we done to the Honeybees?

Great post by Rod about the weakened version of the honeybee that has been produced by our husbandry of the bee.

This article makes a lot of sense to me.  It really makes me think about some things that Wendell Berry said.  Even in areas that seem so benign, human exploitation of nature is shown to yield sad consequences.  I don’t think that the original farmers who used bees to pollinate their crops had ill intentions or were even especially avaricious, but somewhere during this process we have ripped a lot of bees from their natural environments and are now surprised when it causes problems.

That leads into my second Wendell Berry thought.  Berry talks a lot about “health” in agriculture, and in other areas of life.  It seems to me that an important part of health is balance.  Everything works in a certain equilibrium with a number of other elements.  When we offset that balance, things (whether land, our bodies, our social life, etc.) become unhealthy.  That’s what makes our modern system of mono-cultural agriculture so damaging.  We grow thousands of acres of the same crop year after year and it naturally causes a wide array of problems.  The bee situation may just be the most recent example of this.

Posted by: jackslife | October 12, 2009

Nobel Obama

Nothing like a great Lao Tzu quote to put things right.  Thanks to John Medaille over at FPR for posting this quote.

“When small men cast long shadows, you know the sun is setting.”

Posted by: jackslife | October 8, 2009

Conservative Progressivism

Patrick Deneen has a really interesting post up on FPR about Reagan conservatism and progressivism.  He makes some really interesting points about some of the rather progressive viewpoints that characterize modern conservatism.  He references the following section from a David Brooks piece that was written after Reagan’s death -

To understand the intellectual content of Reagan’s optimism, start with American conservatism before Reagan. It was largely a movement of disenfranchised thinkers who placed great emphasis on human frailty and sin, the limitations of what we can know, and the tragic nature of history.

Conservatives felt that events were moving in the wrong direction and that the American spiritual catastrophe was growing ever worse. Whittaker Chambers observed that when he left communism and joined the democratic camp, he was joining the losing side of history. In his influential book ”Ideas Have Consequences,” Richard Weaver argued that American society was in the midst of ”a fearful descent.” To describe modern life, the leading conservative thinker Russell Kirk used words like barrenness, sterility, inanity, hideousness, vulgarity, sensationalism and deformity.

Conservatives looked back sadly to customs and institutions that were being eroded. What was needed, many argued, was a restoration of stability. ”The recovery of order in the soul and order in society is the first necessity of this century,” Kirk argued.

Reagan agreed with these old conservatives about communism and other things. But he transformed their movement from a past- and loss-oriented movement to a future- and possibility-oriented one, based on a certain idea about America. As early as 1952 during a commencement address at William Woods College in Missouri, Reagan argued, ”I, in my own mind, have always thought of America as a place in the divine scheme of things that was set aside as a promised land.”

Reagan described America as a driving force through history, leading to the empire of liberty. He seemed to regard freedom’s triumph as a historical inevitability. He couldn’t look at mainstream American culture as anything other than the delightful emanation of this venture. He could never feel alienated from middle American life, or see it succumbing to a spiritual catastrophe….

Unlike earlier conservatives, he had a boyish faith in science and technology (Star Wars). He embraced immigration, and preferred striving to stability. On the economic front, he inspired writers like George Gilder, Warren T. Brookes and Julian Simon, who rhapsodized about entrepreneurialism and wealth creation.

I think that Brooks was probably right on in his take on Reagan.  Reagan was a big believer in American exceptionalism, the forefather of GWB in this arena.  His summoning of the Thomas Payne line, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again.” goes a long way toward explaining the modern conservative agenda.  These words would be just as much at home in the mouth of progressives as it is on the lips of Reagan.  The only question is who is doing the world building, and what tools do they choose to use.

I don’t want to take anything away from Reagan as a leader.  He was a great leader and definitely changed the world for the better in many ways, but I think that it is hard to measure the impact that his thinking has had on our world.  By surfacing a moral majority who backed a limitless society focused on economic growth and fiscal hedonism.  This marriage of morality and financial libertarianism created a moral sanction for viewpoints that were once considered anything but conservative.  Reagan’s epitaph reads, “I know in my heart that man is good.”  These words may show an optimism and faith in mankind, but they cannot be accurately called conservative.

Posted by: jackslife | September 24, 2009

Joel Salatin

Sorry for just posting another link to a blog post, but there is a post on the Crunchy Con blog about Ringing Bell hero, Joel Salatin.  I’m a big fan of the way that Salatin runs a farming operation, so I am always keen to read what he has to say.  He rarely disappoints.

Posted by: jackslife | September 24, 2009

Crunchy Cons and Chickens

Rod has put up a great post on the Crunchy Con blog that invites readers to send pictures of them and their chickens.  This is in response to David Frum posting pictures of conservatives and their dogs on New Majority.  I think this is a really funny idea.  I hope he gets some photos to go with the one of Rod and his chicken.

Rod with his chicken

Rod with his chicken

Posted by: jackslife | September 18, 2009

Thoreau on Quiet Desperation

I found this quote from Thoreau to be quite amusing. Just think if he had seen our modern cubical revolution.

“When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them—as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having committed suicide long ago.”

Posted by: jackslife | September 17, 2009

Glenn Beck’s Ideological Heritage

Rod Dreher post an interesting article on the forerunners of Glenn Beck’s crazy thought process.

Update – I actually missed the first post Rod had, which makes this all even more interesting.  Here’s a clip from the post -

In 2007, somebody introduced Beck to Skousen’s work and philosophy, which apparently conquered his mind. Zaitchik again:

“The very next week, Bill Bennett appeared on Beck’s radio program and received the same question. “Are you familiar with Skousen?” asked Beck. When Bennett replied yes, Beck gushed. “He’s fantastic,” he said. “I went back and I read ‘The Naked Communist’ and at the end of that Skousen predicted [that] someday soon you won’t be able to find the truth in schools or in libraries or anywhere else because it won’t be in print anymore. So you must collect those books. It’s an idea I read from Cleon Skousen from his book in the 1950s, ‘The Naked Communist,’ and where he talked about someday the history of this country’s going to be lost because it’s going to be hijacked by intellectuals and communists and everything else. And I think we’re there.”Beck continued to mention the book during 2008, but his Skousen obsession really kicked in as the 912 concept began to take shape. Even before Obama’s inauguration, Beck had a game plan for a movement with Skousen at the center. On his Dec. 18, 2008, radio show, one month before Obama took office, Beck introduced his audience to the idea of a “September twelfth person.”

“The first thing you could do,” he said, “is get ‘The 5,000 Year Leap.’ Over my book or anything else, get ‘The 5,000 Year Leap.’ You can probably find it in the book section of GlennBeck.com, but read that. It is the principle. Please, No. 1 thing: Inform yourself about who we are and what the other systems are all about. ‘The 5,000 Year Leap’ is the first part of that. Because it will help you understand American free enterprise … Make that dedication of becoming a Sept. 12 person and I will help you do it next year.””

Scary.

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