Here is a hodgepodge of March Monday Miscellanies.
I) As Lent slowly moseys along, I continue to experiment with various meal concoctions to break the monotony of hummus and oatmeal (not together!). I have discovered a sandwich that I have come to like after insisting to myself that I should like it. Toast two pieces of swirled rye and pumpernickel bread, and add a generous layer of classic hummus and a pile of fresh baby spinach on top of one piece. Then, spread Marmite on the other piece. Put them together, and you have a Marmite sandwich that just might be safe enough to eat. I should disclose that I have worked on my liking of Marmite for over a decade. It is not an easy thing to swallow. So, developing a meal that makes me look forward to using Marmite is quite an accomplishment. It may have something to do with Lent. Everything tastes better during a fasting season—it’s true.
II) Yesterday, I decided to read John Derbyshire’s tree house pages on his web site. As I have written here before, I really like Derbyshire. I imagine that he is a swell guy to know, but I have never met him. He lives on Long Island and does not seem to make it down to D.C. for public seminars and discussions where I have been able to see writers in the flesh. I know that Derbyshire has his detractors on the Right, but I find him quite genial. He comes across as so normal. Of course, the average American guy does not read, write, and review books on mathematics for fun, and your regular Joe is unlikely to have Derbyshire’s peculiar, colorful, British-Chinese-American personal history. Still, he exudes an intelligent common sense. He exemplifies, in my opinion, the best in bourgeois culture. He is a middle class fellow rich in life experience who has done a fine job of cultivating his mind. I appreciate his wit, his insights, and, most of all, his honesty. In summary, he is an intellectual for anti-intellectuals—a sort of non-dismissive Dave Barry who is capable of a serious discussion.
Well, Derbyshire typifies the Anglo-American middle class Renaissance man—the somewhat ideal normal citizen in a liberal commercial republic. He does and knows a little bit of everything. I remember reading in one of his National Review columns that men no longer have the range of skills that were once normal for a free man to have. We have become increasingly specialized and narrow, as if all of society has tended toward Henry Ford’s vision of production. Yet, Derbyshire defies this tendency himself, though, as you can see in his writings . . . and in his tree house project. Derbyshire decided to build his children a tree house five years ago, and he documents the process on his page. I find it rather impressive; I do not think that I could do anything remotely comparable. The tree house gives me yet another reason to like the man.
III) If you know Spanish, you may wish to visit the page of El Instituto de la Memoria Histórica Cubana contra el Totalitarismo. The organization exists as a “counter revolutionary” memory for the evils of Castro’s long dictatorship. Whenever you find an obnoxious Leftist or adolescent (they are sometimes difficult to distinguish) wearing their Commie chic Che shirts or mouthing about Fidel’s workers’ paradise, you may wish to put him in contact with someone in Miami.
IV) If only all of our immigrants had the political sensibilities of the Cubans! I remember that only in Miami was there a protest against Mandela when he visited the United States; everywhere else, the man was worshiped almost as much as Obama is worshiped now. Evidently, being a political prisoner excuses one of his terrible ideas—just like being a ruthless Leftist dictator or one of his henchman.
V) Speaking of immigration, Peter Brimelow has an interesting review of the C.P.A.C. conference and the state of the Right in America today—“Regardless Of Their Doom / The Little Victims Play: CPAC, Frum, Limbaugh . . . And America?”
VI) Speaking of “ugly racists” on the S.P.L.C.‘s “hate watch” hit list, Steve Sailer has a fascinating article at VDARE, “The Obama Bear Market and Why He Triggered It.” Like all of Sailer’s recent articles on Obama, it features Sailer’s observations in his book on Obama’s autobiography, as well as ample quotations from Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Even two months into the new administration, it still shocks me how little Americans know about their current president. I still wonder how in Gehenna did he manage to fool so many folks . . .
VII) Speaking of racism, Shelby Steele has an insightful socio-political piece at the Wall Street Journal, “Why the GOP Can’t Win with Minorities.” Steele’s argument explains the historical aspect of the problem, but I wonder if more is at work than simply the reverberations of the past. If you have read my posts that deal with race, you know that the topic greatly interests me.
VIII) As a Cincinnatian, an Ohioan, and a right winger, I hold a special fondness in my heart for Robert Alphonso Taft—“Mr. Republican.” In a trade not known for principles or prudence, Taft was exceptional. Sadly, the United States Senate does not have men of his caliber anymore. Memory eternal!
I wished to add an inspirational Taft quotation, but I found a funny one instead: “You really have to get to know Dewey to dislike him.”
By the way, you can become a member of the vast right wing conspiracy by joining the Robert A. Taft Club.
IX) Lastly, I recently learnt of an icon that depicts the holy family’s flight into Egypt with Saint James tagging along. According to Eastern tradition, Saint James “the brother of our Lord” and the first bishop of Jerusalem was Joseph’s son and Jesus’ step-brother. I believe that Western traditions hold that he was Jesus’ cousin. It is quite possible that he was both, though I do not know much about Jewish marital laws at the time and the necessary degrees of separation required for marriage. You can see the icon here. Since I was a kid, the interconnection of folks in the bible has fascinated me. So, being a natural genealogist, I leapt with joy—figuratively, of course, and not in my mother’s womb—when I discovered a more extended holy family icon.