I hope that you had a blessed feast of the Theophany over the weekend!
Instead of commenting upon the insidious ritual befalling us this day in our capital city, I shall ignore the clamor outside and rather focus on more important things—like soap made from goat’s milk. Last week, I mentioned the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in West Virginia. Today, I offer you a report in the Charleston Daily Mail on the monastery’s resident soap maker, Anna Long: “The best job in the world.” The article describes the process of soapmaking and features photographs, as well.
You may order your very own goat soap from the monastery’s gift shop.
Sadly, goat soap will not cleanse the land of its manifest inequity on this day, but at least you will smell nice—and help to support the monastery. We surely need their prayers.
The Advent fast begins today. May your white lent be fruitful. I wish you the best in keeping the faith in this land of mammon.
Related to the ridiculous consumerism of contemporary society, I present you a funny article on Slate by Rebecca Watson, “The Pseudoscience of SkyMall.” Watson reviews the curious SkyMall catalogue that you find on planes and suggests a game that I shall play on my next flight. She imagines that she wins a contest where she gets to pick one item from each of the catalogue’s spreads. Watson ends thus:
If you’re playing Imaginary SkyMall Sweepstakes, definitely go with the Lord Raffles Lion Throne Chair on Page 91, because nothing says “class” like an ornate replica Medieval throne from an in-flight catalog. Or maybe the Bigfoot, the Holiday Yeti Holiday Ornament, depending on your personal tastes. Totally your call.
We are indeed a tacky people.
Ron Unz published an interesting and disturbing article in The American Conservative last week about the American political and media establishments’ having given a free pass to the pharmaceutical company Merck after its drug Vioxx caused thousands of deaths: “Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison.” Unz contrasts the American media’s handling of the Chinese infant and pet food scandals with how they covered the Vioxx affair. Unz also compares the reactions of the respective governments. Unz notes that eventually the ChiComs executed some of the men who were responsible for the infant formula malefaction that resulted in six deaths and thousands of medical complication cases, whereas no one has really been held accountable for Vioxx, which may have caused the deaths of a half million Americans.
I discovered Unz’s article on Sailer’s site. Some of Sailer’s commentators think that Unz is being too hard on Merck, especially given the amount of people who took the drug and the benefits derived from it. Some even contend that aspirin would not pass F.D.A. approval today if it were a new drug. I do not know, but Unz’s article calls into question whatever journalistic integrity that remains in this country.
Update: Be sure to see Peter Schaeffer’s criticism of Unz’s arguments in the comments section.
A few months ago, I read an interesting article in Forbes by Bret Swanson: “Jobs: Steve vs. the Stimulus.” The backstory of the article is that in his response to Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Daniels of Indiana stated that Steve Jobs had produced more jobs than the monstrous stimulus act. Paul Krugman, lefty economist for The New York Times, then attempted to school Daniels by comparing the numbers. Contra Krugman, Swanson’s article defends Daniel’s assertion with a fascinating exploration of the dynamism in a free economy.
Athenos is not my favorite brand of packaged hummus, but Kraft’s Greek label commercials are sweet like Melissos’ honey. Enjoy what Yiayia says.
Yiayia on stay at home fathers:
Yiayia on fashion:
Yiayia on cohabitation:
Evidently, the ad campaign began in late winter earlier this year, but I only recently discovered the videos. I want more Yiayia commentary; grandmothers know better.
Leave it to Americans to find a way to combine tastlessness and consumerism in even the most hallowed aspects of life . . . and death. I present Holy Smoke, a company that turns cremated remains into ammunition so that one can go out in a bang. From the company’s site:
Planning a loved ones final arrangements can be a challenging responsibility, one you want to do with care and consideration. Allow Holy Smoke to help you create a tribute to your outdoorsperson like no other.
We provide compassionate personal service, exceptional quality, and a truly unique memorial. Our unparalleled service and overall value are why our loyal customers won’t go anywhere else. We look forward to serving you!
The name you can trust! . . .
Now you can have the peace of mind that you can continue to protect your home and family even after you are gone.
The company is based in Alabama. I shall refrain from additional comment.
My brother Aaron surprised me by alerting me to the continued production of the much beloved Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine. My first impulse was to buy it to enjoy during the horribly hot and humid August summer, but then the inner naysayer responded that it would not be used enough to justify a purchase, that I would have to find a place to store it, that the refrigerator already makes crushed ice . . . but still, Snoopy is so cute, and the shovel! Everyone loves the shovel until it breaks.
It is somewhat pathetic that products invoke such powerful nostalgic longings. I still miss my hometown produced Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow; I can still hear her moo. O Kenner, where have all my plastic childhood memories gone?
I was researching tourist information for a possible upcoming trip to Pittsburgh when I came across a bizarre news story from WPXI: “Avalon Restaurant Criticized For ‘Black on Black Crime’ Hot Wing Flavor.” A hot wings restaurant named Big Shot Bob’s House of Wings apparently decided to name a new sauce flavor “Black on Black Crime.” The owner stated that the negative reaction to the name surprised him, and he excused his bad business decision by saying that a loyal “African American” customer came up with the idea. I should like to have been privy to that colorful interaction.
The story gets better! After the public outcry, Big Shot Bob’s altered the sauce’s name to “Big Fine Woman 2000.” The shop allowed the woman who made the initial complaint to rename the sauce, and “Big Fine Woman 2000” is what she decided. Oh, artifice does not hold a candle to truth!
In reviewing online reactions to the story, I encountered much handwringing about black on black crime. If only we could stop black on black crime! Left unsaid is whether the ongoing plague of black on white crime remains joyfully accepted. I suppose that a better wish would be for the end of widespread black crime, or, even better, the end of crime simply.
I am not a devotee of Malcolm Gladwell, but I did find his article on the mall in The New Yorker quite interesting: “The Terrazzo Jungle.” Gladwell recounts the vision of the mall’s creator, Victor Gruen, as well as his disappointment in what became of his idea. Gruen wanted the mall to be a commercial centerpiece to an extensive, planned development that would create an orderly and beautiful community in suburbia. Such did not occur, though attempts at integrated commercial and residential space continue as the new urbanism refuses to submit before the American cult of the ugly and haphazard. Gladwell also explains how tax policy resulted in ghastly commercial developments largely disconnected from a community’s shopping needs, which thereby facilitated the American wasteland of suburban sprawl. Also of interest is mall designer Alfred Taubman’s commentary on the mall’s commercial strategies. The article is delightful pop anthropological candy. Enjoy.