Charlie's Blog: 2017


It Shouldn't Shock You--Keeping Your Cool in a Messed Up World

I'm Christian, indeed Roman Catholic, so I don't expect history to be anything but a long defeat with glimpses of final victory.

A win is a nice thing when it happens. It is even better when winning becomes a regular thing. But this usually happens in sports or chess. It doesn't happen often in life. Life is mostly a string of defeats for those who labor and fight for good. In the broad panorama of human history, barbarity and evil have been the norm with the relative civility and humanity of Western Civilization being a rare thing. Even then, Christendom has been surrounded by enemies from without and betrayed by enemies within.

All of these depressing facts point back to the ultimate fact. The world is a fallen place. The atheists would argue that the world never fell from anywhere but ascended from the beasts. Human beings are merely clever monkeys who are only slightly better than the less evolved primates. But if this were the case, why would we even care or lament the inhumanity we see so often? The reality is that we all have some concept of the good and the knowledge that we don't measure up to that good. This is the Fall.

We all know good and evil, and we have all chosen evil at some point in our lives. We can choose to do good, but this remains imperfect. The simple fact is that people let us down on a regular basis, and we let others and ourselves down as well. We live in a messed up world filled with messed up people including ourselves.

The answer seems to be a demand to cleanse the world of all that is messed up. The story of the Flood in Genesis is about this impulse and idea. If we could just remove the bad people from the world, it would stop being messed up. Yet, the story ends with Noah naked and drunk and mocked by his own son. The lesson is that the battleground of good versus evil is within the heart and soul of each human being. Reforming institutions or slaughtering the bad people will never change this.

Can the world be fixed? The answer is no. This is the dream of libertarians and Marxists. Utopia can never be. This is why conservatism though unpopular always wins in the end. Conservatism is reality, and the reality is that we live in a messed up world. The best we can achieve is a world that is a little less messed up.

God can fix the world, and He will. But that is in the future. For now, the world remains messed up. It remains this way because people must be saved from this world before its final destruction. All of our efforts in this life are preparation for this coming destruction and rebirth. We are to save our own souls and the souls of all the ones who will listen and obey. In short, our aim is not victory but endurance.

At some point in the inferno, you stop trying to save the structure, and you turn to trying to save yourself and your loved ones. We are at that point in the world. We have always been there. Eden is closed for business.

Yet, people are shocked when they read the news and discover a new terrorist attack, a new sex scandal, a corrupt politician, or some clergyman failing to live up to his professed vows. Why does this shock us? Why do we lose our cool in a world we know is already messed up?

Nothing in this world should ever shock us. One time, I was shocked when I was told that someone had stolen large sums of money. The shock came because I naively believed this person to have honesty and integrity. Looking back, I realize I had no basis whatsoever for this belief. The man was a liar to me and an adulterer. He merely added con artist and thief to his resume of sordidness. He wasn't a good man so much as I wanted to believe that he was a good man.

There is nothing wrong in wanting to believe that people are good. But there is a lack of prudence in this regard. We should want people to be good, but we should never believe that they are good. I want people to not be thieves, but I always lock up my belongings. Basically, you can never go wrong expecting the worst of people. It is depressing but sobering and sometimes delightful when people occasionally fail to live down to your low expectations of them.

Having the dark view of human nature is how you keep from being shocked and losing your cool in a messed up world. You are surrounded by sinners, and you are a sinner, too. This defensive pessimism is what keeps your heart from being broken and your faith from being shattered.

Optimism and faith are good things, but they are only good when they are placed in the right and proper things. People fail, but God never fails. God will come through in the end. God wins. Life is one long defeat. Then, there is victory won by Christ. Have faith in nothing but Jesus Christ. Cling to Him and endure. We can't win, but we can be on the winning side.

Life is not futile. At the end of each day, you should ask yourself if you still believe in God. People will let you down. You will let yourself down. But do you believe that God will let you down? As long as you still believe, you can put that day in the win column. And if you believe on your final day of life, you have triumphed. We can't save the world, but if we endure, we have the share in saving ourselves. You just want to come through to the other side. This final perseverance comes from God's grace working in you.

No one moves into a burning house. Yet, this is what people do when they try and make a home out of this world and a Heaven out of Hell. We are pouring water on the fire while these fools pump the gasoline. It is a lost cause except for the ones we bring out of the fire.

How do you keep your cool in a messed up world? Accept the fact that this world is fallen. Realize that people are corrupted by concupiscence and original sin. Believe God wins in the end. And trust that God's grace will enable you to persevere until that end. Then, avail yourself of that grace through prayer and the sacraments.


C-Notes for WED 11 OCT 2017

1. Parents, you really need to remove your boys from Boy Scouts. When the Boy Scouts decide to admit girls, the Apocalypse is near. Stupidity only rivaled by that of NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem.

2. It would not surprise me one bit if Harvey Weinstein decided to eat a bullet.

3. I rarely agree with Fr. Antonio Spadaro, but I do agree with him here. I think the Benedict Option was and is an idea that is DOA. Rod Dreher always says that people have never read his book, or if they did read it, they somehow didn't get it. This is because people always come away with the idea that he is advocating retreat. Dreher clarifies that he is not advocating retreat but "strategic withdrawal." That is almost as laughable as the AP deciding to not use the term "sex change" in favor of "gender confirmation."

A strategic withdrawal is a retreat. You can call it all sorts of things, but you are essentially quitting and leaving the field of battle. It doesn't matter that you have good intentions about coming back to the battle at some later time. This merely helps ease the sting of the knowledge of your own lack of courage and fortitude. Basically, you are a coward.

Don't listen to Rod Dreher. He quit Catholicism for a strategic withdrawal to Eastern Orthodoxy. He is a schismatic, and he leads others down the same path of his error.

4. You can never go wrong standing up for the flag, patriotism, or your country. If people think Trump is playing some chess game with the NFL, they are idiots. It was a no-brainer against people who are complete idiots.

5. Marsha Blackburn is my kind of Republican.

6. Harvey Weinstein could have been reached if he just had a real honest to goodness man whip the living crap out him. A broken jaw and missing teeth does wonders for one's perspective on sexual predation. But like I said, he will probably eat a bullet or hang himself with his dirty underwear. It's a shame because I know I could have reached him.

7. I am not a fan of bump stocks. Though I oppose a ban on them because liberals go too far, I can't see any legitimate reason to use these things. Spraying bullets is fine for a war zone, but you are responsible for every shot you fire on the domestic front. I don't see how you can be a good aim with such a contraption as a bump stock. Bump stocks are not responsible gun ownership.

8. I still believe the Las Vegas shooter was a soldier for ISIS. Rumor is that ISIS has a video of him swearing allegiance to their cause. Wait and see with this one.


C-Notes for MON 9 OCT 2017 COLUMBUS DAY

1. Anyone who hates Christopher Columbus should watch the Mel Gibson film, Apocalypto. Columbus was no saint, but the undiscovered New World was no Eden either. It was a land full of savages, and the Europeans were the best thing that ever happened to this hemisphere.

2. I think Rod Dreher is feeling the burn of his conscience over being a schismatic from the Roman Catholic Church. Basically, Dreher was a Methodist who converted to Roman Catholicism because it was somehow better than being a Protestant. I experienced something similar when I left being a Southern Baptist to become a Calvinist Presbyterian. I wanted a faith that was more intellectual, and Calvinism fit the bill. Of course, things went awry which lead me to a decade of atheism. But longtime readers of this blog know the story with me.

With Dreher, being Catholic was great until the sex abuse crisis hit. Then, being a Catholic became a cross, and it was one he could not carry anymore. So, he schismed out into Eastern Orthodoxy which is basically Catholicism without the label and the scandal. I do not think for a minute that he became Orthodox because of some deep reasoning. Any reasoning in that regard was ex post facto.

Once you recognize the Roman Catholic Church as the One True Faith, you have a duty to get in it and stay in it. I understand how shattering the sex abuse crisis was for many Catholics. As for me, I was an atheist who converted to the Catholic Church in the full light and knowledge of this scandal. I know all about pedophile priests and corrupt bishops. I am also not a big fan of Pope Francis. But he is the Vicar of Christ. Obedience to the pope is obedience to Christ. Every Catholic knows this including Mr. Rod Dreher.

I have total sympathy for this man. I feel his pain and grief because it is also my pain and grief. But these scandals change nothing about the authority of the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. Schism is not an option. Being a Catholic is a cross, and you have to carry it. My prayer for Rod Dreher is that he will repent of his schism and rejoin the Roman Catholic Church.

3. Some people are saying that the VPOTUS Mike Pence pulled off a stunt when he left the Colts-49ers game. I don't agree with that. I agree he did the right thing in leaving, but he was giving the 49ers a chance to be classy. Had they remained standing for the anthem, Pence's presence there would have done much to broker peace and perhaps rehabilitate the NFL in the eyes of fans. The NFL players blew this one not Mike Pence.

The NFL needs to enforce the rules. And NFL owners should fire players that break this rule. I would go one step further and ban them for life from the game of professional football. And if you don't love the USA, then leave it. Get the hell out.

4. The big scandal with Harvey Weinstein was the silence. So much evil could be destroyed and diminished in this world if people just spoke up. I often want to delete my blog and my social media accounts because I think they are a waste of time. But to be honest, they give me the outlet to speak up and not be silent. I don't care about money or traffic. I keep this blog going just as my way of speaking up when everyone else is silent. I'm with Trump. It really is like having your own newspaper.

5. I totally believe that the Las Vegas shooter was working for ISIS. I also believe that the cops are sitting on this information. Why? What purpose does it serve to not report this? And who actually believes this guy just went nuts that day?

6. I did like this quotation from the Dreher article I linked to earlier:
I’m bringing this all up now in context of my recent Paris trip because events there, and the people I met, made me think of how much genuinely liberating power there is in deciding that you would really rather be a faithful Christian than worry about rising in the world. This is not the same thing as indifference to the fate of the world. It is rather a way of being in the world while guarding against the world being in you. 
You should only have one true ambition in life, and that is to be a saint. That is a very liberating thing in a life often spent chasing vanities like big houses, job promotions, fame, or Facebook likes.

SOC 21

Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.

It is a Saturday night around 9 o'clock as I begin this. It might be next Saturday before I finish it. Writing an SOC post is like smoking a cigar. A relit cigar is no good. In the same way, an SOC that you have left and returned to is never as good as one written in a single sitting. But these days, I have to take what I can get. The extended writing binge ended a long time ago. I write in chunks of time here and there.

I have a backlog of things in my brain, so it feels good to get some of it downloaded to the page. A thought that I return to again and again in both my writing and thoughts concerns the input of culture. This comes from all of the news about fake news. Once upon a time, cultured and intelligent people read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and The Atlantic. Now, I see those rags as essentially anti-culture. It's like how people knew that an art film was actually just a pornographic movie with subtitles. In the case of these rags, they are left wing propaganda and cultural Marxism masquerading as being intelligent writing. Consequently, I no longer read them.

What has been the long term consequence of eschewing this left wing media in favor of conservative blogs and talk radio? I am actually better informed. A certain family member calls to drop some bomb on us that he saw in the Times except we've already read about it and discussed it at the C-household days before. And his facts are almost always wrong. The fact is that the Times is a day late and can't get it straight. Why is this?

I think it takes longer to create and spin the news than to report it. Conservatives report the facts, and they don't need to spin the facts because they are what they are. They don't have to formulate a response to an event because conservatives remain the same. This comes from having a stable body of beliefs. So, a cop shoots a black perpetrator. Those are the facts. The left wing media has to go the extra mile to show that the cop was racist, the police department is racist, and hide the fact that the guy had an arrest warrant and fully loaded handgun pointed at the officer. Or, when it is something like the Tennessee church shooter, they don't bother reporting it at all because the guy was black, the victims were white, and he was stopped by a gun owner.

Conservative media get it right. I follow a lot of sources for conservative news, and they don't always agree. You can count on Mark Levin and Michael Savage not getting along. You can bet that the American Conservative will have a different take than National Review or Breitbart. Conservative media is not monolithic in its presentation. But I think it is more reliable. This is because conservatives believe in truth while progressives are liars. It is their nature to lie because they are the offspring of Saul Alinsky and Satan.

I have struggled to answer the question. Should you expose yourself willingly to contrary viewpoints? I am someone who went to college, so it was drilled into me at the time to be able to consider other points of view. But, in hindsight, I see this was merely a way for my left wing professors to get their foot in their door. Since then, they have evicted the residents of the home and have locked down every campus in the USA in a deathgrip of leftist propaganda, political correctness, and intolerance for Christian and conservative viewpoints. They obviously don't practice what they preach nor do they even preach it anymore. It was useful for a time until it could be discarded.

The simple fact is that our universities would be in much better shape today had they not been so open minded yesterday. Likewise, most of the conservative viewpoints I acquired way back then are still the viewpoints I possess today. I got knocked off track in my thirties by atheism and libertarianism, but I found my way back. Now that I am looking at 50, do I really expect to change my mind again?

Chesterton was right when he said that the point of having an open mind was so that you could ultimately close it on to something solid. For me, the solid things are Catholicism, conservatism, and free market capitalism. If I live to be 100, I am very certain that I will still believe in those things.

When I move beyond the realms of religion, politics, and economics, things get a bit harder. Right now, I am listening to some Bach suites played on the lute. It is simply beautiful music that elevates my soul and mind. This comes after listening to some U2 concert performances that did not elevate my soul and mind. They just rocked. I am always tempted by rock music but leave feeling dissatisfied while I have to discipline myself to listen to classical music which always delivers.

I do not believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is reinforced by my Catholicism and conservatism that rejects the relativism of progressive ideology. Rock music is inherently a progressive musical form which means that it is inherently inferior.

I recently read an article that despite the Anthony Hopkins characterization in Silence of the Lambs, sociopaths do not actually enjoy classical music. They like rap music by a wide margin. This is not surprising to me. This isn't to say that everyone who listens to rap is a sociopath. But clearly high culture and sociopathy don't go well together.

There is a reason Hannibal Lecter is depicted as such a cultured individual enjoying fine wine, music, and art. Part of it is just the creative effect of the juxtaposition of being a cultured killer. It is intriguing in fiction, but it just doesn't exist in fact. The other reason is that it is adig against Western culture and civilization. Western Civ is depicted as bloodthirsty, oppressive, and barbaric by progressives, so it plays well to this crowd to equate Western culture with madness and murder. The reality is that the Marxists are the ones with the debased cultures and high bodycounts.

On a personal level, I wonder if I should eschew debased culture in the same way that I now eschew the mainstream media with their fake news and propaganda. I am definitely at the halfway point in listening to both classical and popular music, but I think I am ready to scrape off the garbage for good.

What you bring into your mind affects who you are. Pornography is the most potent example of this. But why stop at pornography? Bad music has a similar effect on mood and intelligence. Rap music turns its listeners into thugs. Electronica turns its listeners into Ecstasy fueled ravers. Progressive rock turns its listeners into nerds. We can go on and on.

I have felt the urge to make this change for some years now. I know good things will come of it in much the same way that good things have come from my turn to veganism. What I am rejecting is cultural indifferentism. Once you embrace the truth that beauty is not relative, you owe it to yourself to reject the indifferentism that comes from relativity. That hip hop music blaring from the car stereo really is bad. You're not imagining that disgust. That noise really is disgusting.

It is Sunday morning one week later. Like I said, these things don't get written in one sitting. I can't sleep because my hay fever is giving me the hacks. Fall is the worst time of year because the ragweed decides to procreate polluting my air.

When I come back to a post, I read what I've written and pick up the dropped baton. The problem is that sometimes I read over the half-written post and find that my thinking has changed. With this one, my thinking has not changed. I was watching Bill Maher bash on Trump in a video on Breitbart which is the only time I get exposure to Marxist media. I couldn't finish listening to his monologue as he called "thoughts and prayers" the Republican way of saying "tough shit." The guy is utterly repugnant.

Bill Maher is what I was as an atheist. Once upon a time, Maher was a libertarian, but he has degraded into a full blown progressive. He should have been fired over that N-word thing, but progressives get away with things that no conservative would ever do. The Left is without morality or consistency.

On a sidenote, I don't do "thoughts and prayers." I just do prayers. "Thoughts and prayers" is just some political correctness so as not to offend unbelievers. Prayer really does work. I have seen some amazing things that show that God is not a genie in a bottle, but He does act. God hears your prayers.

People need to pray. My descent into atheism came from my failure to pray. I stopped talking to God. I couldn't understand, but I understand now. But I had cut my lifeline thinking I was tied to a sinking ship. The reality was that God was cutting me free from an anchor of Calvinist and Protestant heresy. When I came to the surface, I didn't wait for the ship but went swimming in the wrong direction. Had I continued praying, I would have been saved then and there. But I had to spend a night treading water in the ocean of atheism.

The problem that I have today is a bad habit of not praying. I strive to follow the norms of Opus Dei, but I am not consistent with them. As such, I am always frustrated. I think my frustrations are tied directly to my laxity in prayer. I believe that if I prayed more then more would happen.

It is Monday morning now. It is Columbus Day. I am a Knight of Columbus, and I am totally in support of this holiday. I think the native peoples of the Americas were murdering savages, and Columbus would never have come here had it not been for the murdering savages of Islam that made an eastern passage to the Orient impossible. Columbus brought civilization and Christianity to our hemisphere. God bless him.

I watch this vegan guy on YouTube who I don't recommend to readers because he is so foul, but I enjoyed this vid with him talking about the whiny YouTubers being beaten down in the Adpocalypse. The Adpocalypse deals with the demonetization of YouTube videos by the YouTube brass. Some people claim it is political or whatnot. The reality is that videos of many varieties do little to nothing for advertisers. Basically, YouTube was a bubble, but it was a very lucrative bubble for awhile for YouTube content creators who were able to make enough money to quit their real jobs. Now, the bubble has popped, and those same creators have turned to "ebegging" in an effort to get people to support them in their low work lifestyles. Basically, you make a contribution to Patreon for your favorite YouTubers. I can tell you now that I am never going to do that.

FITSNews is another site that I follow for local news here in SC that has now turned to a subscription model. You get so many free articles then you have to pay to see more. Basically, it is a paywall like the New York Times has. Do paywalls work. Generally, the answer is no. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times have some success with paywalls, but I think this comes from legacy subscribers who are/were already paying for the print version of their publications. Those models become less and less lucrative by the day. For everyone else, paywalls are a disaster.

There is no money in online content creation. A guy like Matt Drudge has a high traffic site. In fact, his site is one of the most successful on the internet worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue. BTW, I have never clicked on an ad for the Drudge Report. But Drudge's success comes from the fact that he has no overhead. He doesn't produce content so much as link to content. Of course, those content creators probably appreciate the avalanche of readers that a Drudge link produces. Others probably resent that a guy who does nothing to produce this content can make money off of the labor of others.

The Drudge model is nothing new. People think it is new, but it isn't. Drudge is doing what publishers and record companies and magazine editors have done for decades. All of these outlets merely took the talent and creativity of others and made money from it by distributing the content to a wider audience. The New York Times has the same model as Drudge except they have to pay for all that reporting. Drudge does not.

How did Drudge get to this point? Basically, he was there first. He started a webpage in the nineties and kept plugging away at it. He built a readership over a long time, and there you have it. By the same token, it could vanish overnight if websites decided to erect paywalls and cut off his deep linking. And his cash comes from advertising. No one would ever pay to subscribe to the Drudge Report.

You figure others might try and copy Drudge, but they don't. This is because his success is a unique thing. There is no formula for what he does. There is also the fact that Drudge caught a lucky break at the beginning of his career as he was the first website to go after the Monica Lewinsky story.

I spend a lot of time pondering what I call "internet economics." The conclusion that I draw from all this pondering is that the cyberworld is not much different from the real world. For instance, I see Amazon as being the same thing as Sears, Roebuck, and Co. from an earlier era with their mail order catalogues. the only real difference is that Amazon puts its catalogue online, but it is essentially the same business model. Netflix is HBO for our times except you get to watch your movies and shows on your time. The cyberworld seems different, but that difference is not massive but slight.

The real asset on the internet is attention. You have to have an ability to draw eyeballs. I don't know how to pull off the trick. The second trick is to monetize that attention. There are three ways this is done. The first is direct payment such as a subscription. The second is advertising. The third is to sell your own products and services. Of those three, the subscription thing is the one that will certainly fail. This leaves advertising and selling your own stuff.

I don't know how to pull off making the internet a successful thing. I can't even get readers for my blog. Maybe I will figure it out one day and win the internet lottery and get rich. But I wouldn't bet on it.


A Vitriolic Rant Against the Hideous Game of Golf

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

I hate golf. I want to get that out of the way at the outset in case I fail to make it obviously clear by the end of this rant. Golf is not a sport. It is a game which would be fine except that it is a game with a great deal of baggage. I mean this literally. They pay people to lug this baggage around the golf courses. But I am getting ahead of myself. I hate golf. I will tell you why.

I once heard a story about John F. Kennedy out playing golf one day. The reporters wanted to get some pictures of him on the course, but Jack wouldn't let them take the pictures. He knew the pictures would hit the magazines identifying him as a golfer. Since golf was the game of the rich and the elite, the picture would show that Kennedy was out of touch with the blue collar working class folks who were the backbone of the Democrat Party once upon a time. I know this story is hard to believe when the most recent Democrat to occupy the Oval Office gave the world this awesome snapshot:

Obama was definitely out of touch, but I don't want to bash on Democrats exclusively since virtually every Republican president in my living memory has been a golfer. And every time these presidents have hit the links, it has been bad press and bad optics. They could have gone bowling, gone fishing, or even gone drinking in a night of unbridled debauchery and garnered less negative press than playing that stupid game of golf. So, why do they still do it? It beats me.

Golf is a game for rich guys. Nothing says that you've made it like being able to afford a pricey membership at some country club. In short, it is a vanity which makes it the game of men with huge egos. Unfortunately, those egos are as large as their golf scores because virtually every one of these egomaniacs absolutely stink at playing golf. But being good at the game isn't the point. What is the point of the game? Well, I really don't know. It is a pointless game especially when you stink at it, and you could skip the 18 holes and just get to the drinking at the clubhouse.

The privilege is just being able to play the game. There are real sports these men could play like basketball or softball. There are pleasant games like bowling which is fun or chess which is intellectually stimulating and challenging. There is even exercise like running, cycling, or lifting weights that get you in shape. I can think of 100 better things to do with your time than hitting a little white ball on the course and then chasing it in an electric scooter while wearing ridiculous clothes. So, why do they do it?

Status. That's it. You play golf to show that you made it. Granted, there are lots of blue collar guys who throw their clubs in the backs of their pickup trucks and head out to the driving range or the public golf course if the county workers and/or prison chain gang mowed the grass that week. But these blue collar golfers are pretenders hacking away with their Walmart golf clubs at substandard courses aspiring to make the PGA tour and achieve escape velocity out of the working class. The only good thing I can say about this pathetic waste of drinking time is that these blue collar guys are actually pretty good at playing golf unlike those rich guys. But I digress. . .

Golf is a rich man's game because it is expensive. And the reason it is expensive is because it is the only game in the world that requires a large amount of real estate. And that, Gentle Reader, is why you common working folk have to settle for bowling and horseshoes. Real estate is pricey, and it has to be maintained. This requires clubs that charge dues, and those dues have to be large enough to keep out the riff raff who are prone to riding across the manicured greens in the golf carts and tossing their empty beer cans and cigarette butts willy nilly. And this is reinforced with Byzantine dress code requirements that forbid things like cutoff jeans and flip flops but will permit virtually every other fashion disaster that people with bad taste can imagine.

Golf is the rich man's indulgence. Those rolling manicured meadows of green are the barrier between those who have made it in life and those doomed to a life of perpetual grind in the salt mines of daily labor. It is not enough to be wealthy and successful. One must also flaunt it. Used to be, this could be done with an expensive car and a Rolex watch. But any hoodrat drug dealer can buy those baubles. No. golf is the great signifier that you have arrived, and you did it without getting caught for illegal activities. I don't know if Richard Nixon lost any of his club memberships after Watergate. That would have to be a subject for another post and probably some other blog. But you get the point. Golf is the trophy wife of games.

Whenever I see or meet a man who is a golfer, my opinion of him is greatly diminished. This is before I have seen him in his loud golf pants. That spectacle takes him to an even lower place of disgust in my book merely a few rungs above serial killer, pedophile, and IRS agent. A man who golfs is a boor, a jerk, and a few other things with obscene names attached to them. Unfortunately, some men I like such as the late Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump played golf. When I meet a man I like who golfs, I regard him as a nice guy with a really bad habit like smoking or fingernail chewing. You try to look past the disgusting nature of the habit.

My hatred of golf is mostly rooted in socioeconomics. This is just a fancy way of me saying that I was born into a working class family, and I have remained in the working class. Some people will say that I am envious, but the truth is that I would never play golf even if I won the lottery or was filthy rich. By the same token, when I encounter a rich guy who hates golf and refuses to play, he notches up considerably in my estimation of him.

I don't think I am alone in my thoughts about golf. People who play golf on the regular express a great deal of frustration at their inability to make that little white ball do what they want. Perhaps golf is a way for powerful men to feel powerless again. I don't know. It mystifies me how anyone can find enjoyment in doing something so poorly which just reinforces my point that golf is more about status than performance.

Certain activities belong to certain types of people. I can't imagine a surfer who wasn't also a pothead. Similarly, video games will always be for kids and basement dwelling losers too sorry to get off their butts and get a job. Likewise, golf will always be to me a game for rich jerks to show off to the world that they are so rich that they can afford to blow good time, money, and real estate on a game they will never be good at. There are better things to do in life. Golf is not one of them.


Charlie's Thoughts on the Filial Correction

Scandal concerning faith and morals has been given to the Church and to the world by the publication of Amoris laetitia and by other acts through which Your Holiness has sufficiently made clear the scope and purpose of this document.

Four cardinals and sixty two clergy and laymen have called out Pope Francis on his errors and scandal both in private and public. The papal response has been silence. Debate now rages in various forums about what it all means. It also begs the most obvious question. Where do things go from here?

The only person who can end this scandal and confusion is Pope Francis. This is what it means when you sit in the Chair of Peter. You are the final judge and referee in the Roman Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals. If Pope Francis does not clean up the mess he made, it will be the job of his successor. And if that successor fails in that, this mess can live on indefinitely. Only the pope can clean it up. No one else can do this for him.

Is the pope in error? Absolutely. Does he know it? Without a doubt. Pope Francis knew this when he went down this road as it is unlikely that you can be a priest, a bishop, an archbishop, a cardinal, and the pontiff without knowing what the Magisterium teaches. The man can claim no ignorance on these matters. Now, with the scandal, the dubia, and the filial correction before him, he definitely knows. The fact that he refuses to respond also indicates that this man knows. And since he is the supreme pastor of the Roman Catholic Church, the responsibility on him is enormous. If teachers and clergy will be judged more severely than laity, the severity of judgment on a pontiff is the worst that can be.

I do not want to be in Pope Francis's shoes on Judgment Day. I feel sorry for him, and I pray that he repents of his errors before he dies. But I know that he won't. This is why I refer to him as Pope Judas. I mean this as no insult to the Vicar of Christ, but I have no way to communicate the seriousness of what he is doing and the consequences of what that will be. And I believe that Jesus allowed Judas Iscariot to be one of the Twelve as a warning to all their successors--the bishops and popes of the Roman Catholic Church--to flee from error and sin for the sake of their own souls.

If being called the Society of Judas or Pope Judas will upset and discomfort them, I will be happy. This is because it will make them pause and reflect on the state of their own souls in much the same way that Jesus referred to the Pharisees as "vipers." I would rather offend in my words than let poor souls slide into damnation by my silence. Both the Society of Jesus and Pope Francis operate as modern day Iscariots betraying our Lord with their words and deeds while pretending fidelity with their kisses.

Both the Dubia Cardinals and the 62 signatories of the Filial Correction do a good thing for our Holy Father. He may not recognize it as a good thing, but there is genuine charity in their efforts. Ultimately, they do not want souls to go to Hell. This includes the soul of Pope Francis. My prayer is that the eyes of Pope Francis will be opened. And, if they will not be opened, that they will be closed forever for the sake of the souls that may be led astray by his errors. 

In the meantime, we are at war with the world, the flesh, and the Devil but now a civil war has emerged within the Roman Catholic Church. On one side, we have the conservatives and traditionalists. On the other side, we have the modernists who Pope St. Pius X condemned so vociferously. Catholics need to decide what side they are on. There is no middle ground in this affair. This middle ground is where we have been when this conflict began, and it is what has allowed this modernist wound to fester into the stinking infection we witness today. The modernists wanted their pope, and they got him in Pope Francis. They have operated in secrecy all these years, but now they operate in the open for all to see. This may be disheartening to the faithful, but it shouldn't be. As the ancients said, pride goes before destruction. God is allowing these wolves to shed their sheepsuits, so that their sins may be glaring before all. A pope like Francis was necessary for this to happen.

Things will get worse for the faithful. Before it is done, the faithful will not recognize their Church anymore. It will be an abomination of desolation. But we have been here before, so we should rejoice that we have been considered worthy to bear these trials for our Lord. God wins in the end, and He will be glorified in His ultimate victory. And it will be our great privilege to share in that victory. Do not be discouraged. God cannot fail. Pray for the Pope. Pray for the Church. Mother Mary, pray for us all.


Randy's Tire and Lube

A righteous man who walks in his integrity—
How blessed are his sons after him.

I have a friend who I think is a righteous man. He is not Catholic like me, but he lives his faith. I think God smiles on all righteous men no matter who they are. When I see a righteous evangelical Christian living his faith, I praise God, and I ask for His blessings on that man and his family. There are few good people in this fallen world, and they are refreshing to find. They shine like a light in this dark world.

My friend is the salt of the earth. I am forever indebted and grateful to my friend for all he has done for me and my wife. If I have a quibble with him, it would be with his discouragement in life. I was an atheist at the time when I had this conversation with him and possessed a much darker view of the world than he did. I told him that with his talents and integrity that he should start his own business. There were various ideas I tossed at him with an oil change place being one of the ideas because he had worked in that field before. His refusal of the idea was to the point.

"You can't make an honest living in that type of work," he said.

I disagreed with him despite the fact that I was an atheist and had encountered a great deal in my life by that point to make me agree with him. It seems that the righteous are at a competitive disadvantage to the unrighteous in this world when it comes to trying to make an honest living. The unrighteous cut corners, do bad by their workers, flout the law, and cheat their customers. My friend knew this because he had seen it so many times at the places where he worked. I've seen similar shadiness over the years. But he was wrong. A good man can do the right thing and operate with righteousness and integrity in this dark world and make a living and even prosper. I had too many empirical examples of these businesses such as Chick-fil-A which does the dumbest thing you can do in the fast food business--remain closed on Sundays. My argument was not so much a vindication of religion so much as a belief in the free market and the knowledge that there is always a demand for honest business. People want honest work done for them even if it may cost more than the crap work they could get from a shady undercutter. I don't know anyone who likes getting screwed over and getting ripped off, and this includes those who make their livings screwing over people and ripping them off.

I continued to argue with my friend that you can indeed make an honest living in the field of automotive service, and he continued to tell me about how dishonest people made it impossible to succeed. Then, I told him about Randy's Tire and Lube in Lugoff, SC. I've literally watched this business go from nothing to become a thriving local business. It is a family business, and they believe in the Lord. You can tell they are Christian because they are closed on Sundays and close early on Wednesdays to go to midweek prayer service. In these parts, the Wednesday prayer meeting is a big deal.

This business was recommend to me by word of mouth which is the best advertising money can't buy, and Randy and his crew have always delivered. I have always received honest and dependable service from them, and they have always done right by me. Yes, I could have gotten it cheaper from Jiffy Lube which I call "Iffy Lube." But you get what you pay for, and if you pay cheap, you pay twice. Getting ripped off by the shady people is never a moneysaver. Randy is the salt of the earth.

I've never heard anything bad about Randy, and if I did, I know the person making the claim is the dung of the earth. This is because Randy and his family are the salt of the earth. I don't know Randy personally, and he certainly hasn't cut me any deals or thrown me any money for this endorsement. I am simply grateful that such an honest business exists that I can recommend to my friends and family. And I do recommend them as often as I can.

My wife is from Florida, and she tells me all of her horror stories of getting ripped off by shady businesses down there when it comes to car repair and service. It angers me to hear these stories. Yet, she was very impressed and grateful for the honesty and service she got from Randy's when I took her car there. Like my friend, she didn't believe such businesses exist. But they do. And we all know that women are a favorite target of shady shops wanting to exploit their ignorance of all things automotive. Randy's is not like that. You can send your wife, your mother, your sister, or your daughter there, and they are not going to do unauthorized or unnecessary work or charge for work they never did. Like I said, SALT OF THE EARTH.

I highly recommend taking your car to Randy's Tire and Lube. They are worth every penny and more. And I am grateful to God that an honest and righteous man can indeed succeed doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing. It gives me hope in a world that can seem very hopeless at times. May God continue to bless this man, his family, and his wonderful business.


C-Notes for TUE 19 SEP 2017

1. When I write a typical blog post, it takes a lot of work. I have to find an idea, some graphics, and a quotation to head the thing. I like writing those kinds of posts, but all that work makes it hard to dash something off on a regular basis especially as things are happening in the world. So, I've decided to do something new. This is it. C-Notes. I hope you like it.

2. Trump was simply awesome at the UN today. That speech was like he was channeling Ronald Reagan from beyond the grave in some kind of seance or something. That speech is up there with his Poland speech. On foreign policy, Trump gets an A+ from the C-man.

3. Some thug gangsters shot up the Vista in Columbia. The reason this is a big deal is because the Vista is supposed to be a place where good and decent people can go to dine and have a good time. Instead, they can now expect to catch stray bullets as they walk down Gervais Street.

4. It is obvious that Mueller intends to squeeze Manafort to get him to throw Trump under the bus to save his own hide. It is a gross injustice but one carried out on a daily basis on common folk without the means to fight back. It is hell even for people with means to fight back. Just ask Martha Stewart. The Feds are evil, and Mueller dripped straight from the Devil's loins.

5. The left wing fake news mainstream media knew Trump was tapped. They didn't care. Obama was utterly Nixonian in his abuse of power except he makes Nixon look good in comparison. But Democrats get the pass while Republicans get crucified.

6. US Catholic bishops promote illegal immigration because they want government money for their charities, and they want bodies to fill their empty parishes and coffers. Steve Bannon nailed it.

7. I'm waiting for Elton John to try and sue Trump for using the term "Rocket Man."

8. Faithful Catholics are now a "cancer" on the Catholic Church. Gee, this whole time I thought it was those child molesting sodomite priests and the bishops that covered for their crimes.

9. James Comey perjured himself numerous times. But he's another Democrat that gets a pass.

10. Trump needs to fire Jeff Sessions. You can't recuse yourself every time a criminal claims to be a Democrat causing you to have a conflict of interest. The fact is that virtually all criminals are Democrats, and all Democrats are criminals. Put Christie or Giuliani in the job.


SOC 20

A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today.

I miss beer. I never miss meat or cheese. I also never miss Jim Beam. But I do miss Pabst Blue Ribbon. And why is this? Because there was relaxation and comfort in that 12 oz. can. Every top popped was like a mini-vacation. I never cared for getting hammered, but I did like sitting back in Rusty's Chair and taking a chill pill. FYI, Rusty is the father of a friend who brought this discarded chair to my wife before she ever met me. That chair is mine now, and I love it. Here is a picture of it from my crappy flip phone:

Rusty's chair has seen some action. It has been in my wife's possession for at least ten years, and it was blown out when she got it. Somewhere along the way, it became my chair mainly because I sit in it on a daily basis. I like it so much that I might get it reupholstered when the time comes. When I sit in the chair, I can feel the old man crust on me. It grows a bit more as each year goes by.

The PBR was supposed to be the companion on my descent into crustiness. The beer was going to mellow me and maybe tamp down the bitterness that comes from watching the world go to hell. This guy has the right idea:

But I gave up PBR, and I have had no gout flare ups since. But old men like to find comfort in simple things--a cold beer, a cigar, a glass of scotch, a favorite pipe. Those things are denied to me. At least I have the chair. Man, do I love that chair!

I think God wants me to be a teetotaller. I don't know God's reasons for this, and I don't have to know. I've learned to not question the Almighty's business. I just want to obey. So, I am out of the beer game for the sake of a disease that I am not supposed to have. I will have to witness the world's destruction fully sober.

I don't have a comfortable life, and that is by choice and design. I am averse to comfort in a lifestyle my wife calls the "Arsenal of Pain." Somewhere in my journey, I made peace with pain and adversity and even seek it out. I find comfort in suffering which is counterintuitive. This is because suffering makes me turn to God. Ultimately, our comfort and solace must come from God Almighty. For some people, beer becomes the substitute for God.

I endure each day with heavy reliance on the rosary, the Holy Bible, the grace given through the sacraments of the eucharist and confession, and the examples of the saints who lived holy lives in much harsher conditions than I encounter in my life. God is my strength and refuge. God is always there for me.

The practice of daily prayer has made me appreciate things about prayer that I never really knew before. We are to be importunate in prayer which seems to be a strange requirement for me. I am reminded of the story in the Bible where Moses had to keep his hands up in order for the Israelites to keep winning in battle. They would help Moses by holding up and supporting his arms. That is the best image of the nature of prayer that I know. God wants us to share in what He does, and prayer is our way of sharing. Everyone prays for the ones they know and love, but do we pray daily? Would we pray 100 times or even 1000 times if it would save a loved one from Hell?

Prayer works. God is not a genie in the bottle, but I've seen answers to prayer that I did not expect. My own conversion to the Catholic faith was an answer to prayer. But most of the time, our prayers seem to go unanswered either because we ask for the wrong things or because we grow impatient with waiting for the answers. It is in those times of discouragement that we really need to keep praying. On the other side of the discouragement is the answer.

What does all this suffering and praying do? It produces grit. This is just another name for fortitude, but I like grit better. Endurance through trials makes strong people, and I have encountered strong people of faith. When life gets hard, these people fight back on their knees. They are holy warriors who don't give up. And that, Gentle Reader, is the secret of winning in this life. Never give up.

I often wonder if Donald Trump will give up. The Left would like for him to give up. I have little faith in him on this count. Yet, he is still there. I truly believe that he will make America great again as long as he stays in that Oval Office. Life would be so much easier for him if he threw in the towel. But this country needs that man. I believe that. A Jeb Bush presidency would be a disaster right now as nothing would be changing at this point. When I look at Theresa May in England, I shake my head in disgust. May is no Thatcher. I keep hoping the UK will get a true conservative prime minister.

When you are a Christian and a conservative, you have to make a mental commitment to never giving up. Surrender is not an option. This is a very important thing. It's like the story of the conquistadors who burned their boats upon arrival in the New World. They removed the option of turning back.

Trials reveal to us our escape hatches. I admit that I still have a couple in my brain. I didn't think I had them, but I see them clearly now. I am going to eliminate those escape hatches. I will always be a conservative, a Christian, and a Catholic. Even if I am blind in the deepest darkest pit I may find myself in the future, I will put my trust in the Lord. It is one thing to say that God is all you have. It is another thing to know it. God is all I have. And God is all I need.


Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 52

A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.


It has been awhile since I posted an RTOVS. Trump has been a busy guy during my hiatus, so I will be brief in my thoughts. I think Trump whiffed on the thing in Charlottesville by giving a weak initial response. Naturally, the Left pounced on this which means nothing to me because they are the Left. But conservatives of which I am one noticed as well. That is cause for concern. The reality is that there is a split between conservatives and the alt-right. Trump has been unable to decide if he is on the side of alt-right people or conservatives. Steve Bannon has not made this easy on him.

With Bannon's dismissal, Trump has decided to go in the conservative direction. This is a good thing. This is because conservatism is absolutely good, right, and just. I think the alt-right is now going to fade into oblivion. Trump needed to repudiate them in some way, and he has. Granted, they helped him win the GOP nomination and the presidency. But the alt-right are mostly imbeciles. My advice to Trump is to stop listening to Steve Bannon and start listening to Mark Levin.

With Afghanistan, the alt-right has now turned against Trump as Trump decides to listen to the generals on that issue. I support this decision. Afghanistan is a breeding ground for international terrorism. Unfortunately, it will probably always be this way. We can't just up and leave. The isolationists don't understand this. This leads us to Trump's other group he has to deal with--neoconservatives.

The neocons hate Trump. Yet, they see in his moves with Syria and Afghanistan things to like. The problem with neocons like Bill Kristol is that they are scum and idiots. There isn't a war they don't like, and they won't be satisfied until we have a One World Empire. Trump does not believe in this and neither do I. It is enough to be secure from world threats without subduing the world. The Romans were a Republic and relatively free. But then they conquered the world in empire which cost them their own freedom. There is a valuable lesson there.

Neoconservatives do not believe in liberty. Liberty and empire cannot coexist. If you doubt this, look at all the civil liberties and protections that have eroded since 9/11 and the rise of the neoconservatives. Empires demand all powerful rulers. This is why neocons find so much in common with the Left and the Marxists and why they preferred Hillary to Trump. Let me be clear on this. Neoconservatism is an evil. It needs repudiation.

The middle path between alt-right isolationism and neocon imperialism is the conservative policy of peace through strength. Weakness is provocation. Trump seems to get this which is why his show of strength regarding North Korea is turning out well. It is not enough to leave others alone. You must also give them robust incentives to leave you alone as well.

In regards to Afghanistan, this is the equivalent of the incorrigible offender. I doubt that place will ever be made right, and we shouldn't even try. That country like some people needs its ass kicked on a daily basis.

As for Trump, he has really had a rough time of things. My advice to him going forward is to be conservative and retain and hire conservatives to serve you. The more Trump follows this advice the better he will do. Ironically, he seems to be doing just that. This is why I like Trump. He ends up doing the right thing despite himself.

As I write this, Trump has issued more direct guidance on banning transgender troops. I totally applaud and support his decision on this. I also applaud and support his decision to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio on the ridiculous "crime" he committed. Basically, the man enforced the law despite a judge's order to not enforce the law. We are at the point where one part of government such as a judge or a mayor can act in defiance and order others to act in defiance of this nation's laws. It just boggles the mind. This presidential pardon is exactly what the Founders envisioned happening and why they thought it was needed. The pardon power is a check against tyranny. The conviction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio for doing his job is tyranny.


Pope Francis continues to infuriate faithful Catholics. The latest outrage is when the Holy Father said that countries should set aside safety for the sake of mercy. Basically, a country should take in all Islamic refugees and embrace rape, murder, and pillage as acceptable things out of mercy and compassion. You would have to be a complete papolater to listen to and accept this madness. As one person pointed out, Pope Francis is the head of his own state and can practice what he preaches anytime he likes at the Vatican.

With Amoris Laetitia, the schism widens ever more as diocese after diocese either embraces adulterers or rejects them. Cardinal Burke has finally declared that a correction is coming which the three remaining dubia cardinals will give privately to the Holy Father. I appreciate and admire Cardinal Burke, but this correction amounts to nothing since I expect Pope Francis to never answer the door. If they want a face-to-face, maybe they can catch him in the hallway somewhere. Otherwise, Francis will just ignore them. A public rebuke may provoke a response, but it will end in the loss of red hats and possible excommunication.

There are things that need to be said, and I don't see anyone saying this. So, I will say it. The pope can announce that he is an atheist, publicly worship the Devil in a satanic sacrifice in St. Peter's basilica, declare the entire Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church to be null and void, and copulate publicly in St. Peter's square with a prostitute, and there is nothing the cardinals can do about it. NOTHING. They can decry the man as a heretic and point out his errors. They can declare him an antipope after the fact. But they cannot remove him from the chair of Peter. The secular authorities can lock him up for criminal activities, but he would have to step beyond the Vatican for this to happen. Otherwise, he is the pope, and he must be endured until God Himself removes him from his post.

Theologians in the past have stated that any pope who declares heresy is automatically out of the pontificate at the moment of the declaration. Nevermind that this not even supposed to be possible per papal infallibility. The pope may declare errors privately but never ex cathedra. If you follow the logic here, a pope can never not be pope because he cannot utter error even when he utters errors. If this makes no sense to you, welcome to my world, folks. This logical pretzel is a form of the game of heads I win and tails you lose.

Let me clear things up for you, Gentle Reader. If a pope ever speaking ex cathedra declares heresy which would be errors in regard to faith and morals, that man has not ceased to be pope. Christ has ceased to be Christ. The gates of hell have prevailed, and the Petrine promise declared by Christ in Matthew 16:17-19 will have been rendered a lie. Christ cannot lie. Popes cannot err. They are infallible. A fallible pope is a calamity, and Jesus has left no escape from this calamity should it occur. If we set aside this teaching, we should join the modernists and also set aside Christ's teachings on divorce and remarriage. Or, we can join the Eastern Orthodox and deny papal infallibility.

I do not believe Pope Francis will bring this calamity upon us. I do believe that he will try. If Pope Francis succeeds in this regard, I will return to my atheism as Roman Catholicism will be the greatest mockery in all of human history. God keeps His promises, and if He doesn't, then God does not exist. If He does exist and breaks His promises, then the Mohammedans are correct in their theology. I will never be a Muslim or worship their monstrosity.

These are high stakes for the faithful because their faith hangs in the balance. I have faith, but it is not faith divorced from reason and common sense. There have been bad popes and antipopes. There have been popes who said and did things in contradiction to the Magisterium. I think Pope Francis is one of them. But no successor of Peter can ever issue heresy as true doctrine because the Holy Spirit won't let him.

Where do things stand at the moment? Here is what I believe and know about Pope Francis:

--Francis believes in giving communion to remarried adulterers.

--Francis believes in artificial contraception especially for the sake of protecting the environment through population control.

--Francis abhors the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and will rescind Summorum Pontificum.

These are not idle speculations but the common sense conclusions we can draw from the man's words and actions. Just this week, the Holy Father threw his magisterial weight behind the Novus Ordo. What that means is still being debated, so I will not comment on this at this time. But when you see the dark clouds overhead, keep your umbrella handy.

Because Pope Francis cannot overthrow the Magisterium himself, he does so by a move I call "heresy by proxy." In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis did not change church teaching, but he gave the greenlight for others to do it for him. Cardinals and bishops can err, so this is how you get one diocese promoting the error being suppressed in another diocese. The result is schism with faithful bishops fighting it out with apostate bishops. Where popes quieted schism in the past with their words and authority, Pope Francis promotes schism and heterodoxy by his silence and by decentralizing his authority. It is almost satanic in its fiendishness.

What can faithful bishops and cardinals do about it? As I said, NOTHING. Laypeople can certainly do nothing except exercise the power of the purse by not giving money to Rome. The papacy is an absolute monarchy. The remaining faithful bishops can stand fast, but a demonic pope can simply remove them and replace them with his own bad bishops. As the college of Cardinals gets stacked up with modernists, the next pope will certainly be worse than the current pope.

Where do things go from here? That is the subject of prophecy, and there are many prophecies about this coming calamity. All I can tell you to do is pray the rosary, go to Confession, attend Mass, and do works of mercy. Keep your lamp shining and never give up. God wins in the end.


Living on a Dime is a favorite of my wife who enjoys watching their YouTube channel. Most of their advice is cooking and food related, but they also give a lot of commentary on how most people are living hand to mouth in the most ridiculous of ways. People with money problems are usually people with spending problems and lifestyle inflation. Watch the videos, learn some things, and get your act together.


No one heals himself by wounding another.

The true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but men of tradition.

Those that cannot control themselves try to control others.


The “God of the Gaps” is Growing

“Star Wars”: A False Idol of Distraction for Lost Souls

Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free

A Final Word on Fr. Martin

Bishops In A Bind

The Galat Case: A Lesson in Prudence for Papal Critics


SOC 19

You cannot open a book without learning something.

In my last SOC post, I praised beer. Now, it is with irony that I must now announce that I am giving up beer. I don't want to give up beer, but I have to give up beer. Beer contributes to gout, and I have gout. I just discovered all of this just this week. It is both liberating and heartbreaking. Here is my tale.

I am a vegan. I do not eat meat, dairy, eggs, or any other animal products. I have been vegan for about four years now. I made the switch in order to preserve and promote my health. Prior to this, I ate crap for four decades. My youth made this abuse of my body possible, but I knew I would pay a consequence for this when I got older. And, I was right.

A vegan diet does not cause gout. In fact, it basically cures gout. My gout is the consequence of my past life as a meathead who ate burgers and fried chicken almost daily. I think my first flare up was when I was 36 or 37, but I didn't recognize it at the time. But I have suffered many flare ups since becoming vegan. This isn't supposed to happen to vegans which is why I had a hard time accepting that I had gout. It didn't make sense. Then, I read an article from Dr. McDougall, and it makes total sense now.

Gout is caused when purines from meat (and yeast) turn into uric acid in your body. This uric acid crystallizes in your joints especially the big toe joint. I don't eat meat, but I still have body fat from my meathead days. As I lose weight, the purines stored in this body fat become uric acid leading to gout. Basically, I am now paying for eating all of that garbage in my former life.

My antidote for this condition is to drink lots of water and consume lots of tart cherry products and apple cider vinegar. I also have to give up beer which contributes to gout. I can drink wine or spirits since it is the hops and yeast in beer that are the problem. But, to be honest, beer is the only alcohol I really care to drink. Wine has never been my thing, and I think spirits lead to alcoholism. So, I'm a teetotaller again.

Yes, it is enough to make a grown man cry. I wish it weren't so, but there it is. Beer was my last vice. Now, I'm safe to invite to a Baptist church picnic again. Why does everything that it is pleasurable and fun in life seem to come with some negative consequence?

I have been here before, so it isn't the end of the world for me. When I was an atheist, I was a teetotaller. I never drank. At the time, I was enamored with tales of Enlightenment thinkers with ideas of freedom and liberty fueled by prodigious amounts of coffee and meeting in European cafes to discuss all their grand ideas. So, I became a caffeine addict which lead to massive amounts of energy and productivity in my life. Unfortunately, all of this energy and productivity was pointed in the wrong direction. But I got things done.

I have toyed with a return to that caffeine fueled high octane lifestyle. There were a lot of negatives in my life back then but alcohol and substance abuse were not on the list. I was a foul mouthed libertarian atheist, but I lived clean.

Now, I have been a coffee person since my twenties. It is my morning habit like many other people. I like to make this joke. We know there is no life on Mars. This is because there is no coffee on Mars, and life is not possible without coffee. Yeah, it is kinda corny, but it makes my point. Coffee is go-juice.

My relationship with coffee became more serious in my thirties when I gave up drinking. If you ever attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, you will come away with the impression that these drunks have replaced their alcohol addiction with caffeine and nicotine addiction. I don't consider myself to be an alcoholic, but I am absolutely a caffeine addict.

I have praised coffee many times here on the C-blog, and I would say that 95% of the content here has been written under the influence of that drug. For curiosity's sake, I read up on gout and coffee. One article said that high coffee intake lead to a 40% reduction in gout attacks. That is so awesome. Everytime that I worry that coffee might be a bad thing, I come away from the internet reassured that java is one of the best things to ever happen to humanity. It is the only drug that I know that will allow you to stay out of jail, keep your job, and may even get you promoted. Alcohol will get you a DUI. Cocaine and heroin will get you dead. Nicotine will turn your body to cancer. But caffeine can resurrect the dead. I know because I rise from the grave of slumber each day with a hot cup of java.

There is a difference between the casual coffee drinker and the serious coffee drinker. The casual coffee drinker has two cups of mild brew each morning. The serious drinker has four cups of strong brew as a mere starter and will drink coffee again in the afternoon and perhaps the evening. The serious coffee drinker is what has made Starbucks possible.

I like Starbucks. Of course, I don't like paying four bucks for a cup of coffee. But I like Starbucks as a location. It is a much better substitute for the bar. That hangout part is why their coffee costs so much, and I should go easy on them for charging so much. Before Starbucks, there was really no place to hang out with friends that didn't involve drunks, and this includes the Waffle House. Plus, I take inspiration in the fact that virtually every Starbucks has someone there working away at a laptop computer either studying or getting work done. These people are on the high octane lifestyle.

Once upon a time, this was my lifestyle. Then, somewhere I drifted into relaxation and contentment. This was certainly as a consequence of being happily married and also becoming Catholic. I was restless then I found rest. The reason those Enlightenment guys like Voltaire drank so much coffee was due to the restlessness that comes from the rejection of Christianity. They got out of the car and went to work prodigiously reinventing the wheel.

When I was a libertarian and an atheist, I was a reinventor of wheels. It was fun and pointless. I don't care to live that again. But I admit that it might be nice to have that same energy back that fired me up so much. I was high energy then but pointed in the wrong direction. Now, I'm pointed in the right direction, but I am low energy. What if I were high energy in the right direction?

With my putting away of beer in favor of coffee again, I think I would like to try this experiment. I am content in my life, but I wish to be more in terms of my work. I feel like a very lazy person these days, and this is something I want to change. This gout thing has really laid me low, but it may turn out to be a real kick in the pants to make some productive changes in the way I live.

Another change I have been doing is cultural and intellectual hygiene. This is the practice of turning off CNN and the New York Times. This is part of an internal debate that I have been having with myself over the last couple of years. Essentially, the debate has two sides. The first side is that you should expose yourself constantly to opposing ideas and culture. For instance, a conservative should take the time to read Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky in order to more effectively oppose their errors. The second side is that you already know they are bad, and life is short. The argument for this side is best expressed by St. Paul in Philippians 4:8:
For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.
My interpretation of this is that you should eschew hip hop, Norwegian death metal, and David Allan Coe in favor of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and Debussy. The music issue is an easy one to settle. The issue of art is a little more difficult. Obviously, shock art involving body fluids and blasphemy can and should be ignored in favor of Rembrandt and Leonardo. But what about Monet or Picasso? That's when things get a bit fuzzy. And what about pagan art from Greco-Roman times?

As I embrace becoming an old man, I listen to old man music now. I feel that I am in a halfway place between youth and maturity. This blog is evidence of that as I blend history, philosophy, and Led Zeppelin. But I feel a certain need to purify myself of the decadence of rock and roll. I find no real joy or pleasure in it anymore. I prefer listening to old classical guitar stuff from Andres Segovia now. He is my Jimi Hendrix now.

SCHOENBERG: This guy composed the worst music you will ever hear.

I do not believe that beauty, goodness, and truth are subjective. Consequently, I reject those avenues of culture that believe these things are subjective. Now, some rock music like the heavenly harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young can be beautiful while some "classical" music like the monotony of early Philip Glass or the cacophony of Arnold Schoenberg are just noise and a waste of good vinyl. But for the most part, rock is noise while classical is beautiful. I also believe that the degradation of most rock and popular music today comes as the musicians of today have virtually no knowledge of the classical music of old. Bereft of this grounding in what is truly good, they reproduce what they know which is crap. This is why the radio in my vehicle remains permanently on the AM dial as I listen to news/talk instead of music now.

The easiest case for cultural hygiene is that life is too short to waste on bad music, art, movies, and books. This is why these things have critics except the critics aren't so good at criticizing anymore because they are divorced from the true, the good, and the beautiful now. So, to make it easy for you, you can stop watching almost all movies made today. They are all very bad. Even the best ones aren't so great. If you gave up movies and television completely, you will have lost very little.

Music is also fairly easy. Just listen to classical music, choral music, and opera. I play this stuff all the time when I am at home. My wife claims that it has an effect on her, and she is totally into Motown/R&B/Soul/Disco/Eighties stuff. Her listening to my music is purely secondhand audio and not by choice. But she likes it all the same. That is the universal appeal of good music. Everyone loves it because beauty is not in the eye or ear of the beholder.

With art, I can tell you when it went bad. It started with Picasso and devolved from there. Basically, art fell completely into crap with this work:

GUERNICA: When art turned to crap.

This is Guernica which is more political than artistic. Either way, it is just flat out ugly. People may disagree when art went bad, but this is usually the moment in Art History 101 when students know in their guts that art turned to complete crap. Everything following this work is either a variation of this garbage or a repudiation in favor of a return to more classical forms. Basically, you have art that is purposely made to be hideous or made to be beautiful.

Popular art is a different category for me. This would be the stuff of comic books, advertisements, posters, cartoons, and things of this nature. They are not so much about beauty as about sending a message or information. This distinction between high art and popular art can also apply to music as well. I don't put Andy Warhol in the same league as Michelangelo in the same way that I don't consider Led Zeppelin to be equal with Bach. The popular stuff is simply fun. Fun is good. Sublime is another realm.

The danger I run with cultural hygiene is not being fun anymore. I still remember when a local columnist lost his mind when the local NPR station started programming jazz stuff on the classical station. IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END. It was a gross overreaction on his part because only two people listened to the station, and he was one of them. He should have worried more about losing his newspaper job. AND HE DID. But he was a casualty of the internet.

Art, music, and movies cause me some grief in the cultural hygiene department, but I have none when it comes to literature. The reason for this is that those forms are immediately accessible. Moby Dick is not. Because reading novels takes effort and time, I don't waste any of it on Stephen King, John Grisham, or whoever is pretending to be Tom Clancy these days. I'm still trying to finish Lord of the Rings.

When it comes to literature, the make or break point is Ernest Hemingway. I consider him to be the most influential writer of the twentieth century. That influence was more stylistic than anything else. Hemingway wrote in that spare style. This economy and thrift was a game changer.

I'm out.