Why does my country’s government always seem to give the back of the hand to Christians of the Near East? No wonder the Armenians think we hate them.

Rod Dreher, Defending Christian Armenia | The American Conservative

Spin failure

The president highlighted a supporter saying his return to the campaign trail would make him an “invincible hero.” A campaign spokesman chided Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent, for lacking the experience of contracting and beating the coronavirus, while lawmakers tweeted Internet memes about Trump defeating the virus in battle.

Will Trump’s Bout With Covid Strengthen His Election Campaign? - Bloomberg

Very quiet family Sunday. Bon mot:

Short of institutional suicide, there is little that Google can say or do to ensure “user privacy.”

Shoshana Zuboff, ‌The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

I get a lot of junk mail, but American Energy Alliance today retched out to me with Carbon Tax Citizen’s Outrage Petitions — a flat-earther analog, vindicating James Howard Kunstler’s derision toward those who think the earth a bon-bon with a nougaty oil center.

Distaff and I watched the first episode of Last Tango in Halifax last night and loved it. I’d hesitated because the Netflix description referred to the couple’s “dysfunctional families,” which scanned to me like condescension or some other signal of something I shouldn’t like.

Is “religion” coherent?

Some readers may find this mind-bending. I know I still do. I’ve learned my lessons too well,

I have no doubt that ideologies and practices of all kinds—including, for example, Islam and Christianity—can and do promote violence under certain conditions. What I challenge as incoherent is the argument that there is something called religion—a genus of which Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and so on are species—which is necessarily more inclined toward violence than are ideologies and institutions that are identified as secular. Unlike other books on religion and violence, I do not argue that religion either does or does not promote violence, but rather I analyze the political conditions under which the very category of religion is constructed.

William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence.

Pro tip from a Cantor: Groomsmen should spit their gum out before the service. Failing that, swallow it. Under no circumstances, chew it vigorously.

Watching a CBS News Special Report as I wait for local news at 6 PM. It is as irritating as the 24 x 7 x 365 cable networks in that they won’t stop talking when they no longer have anything to say.

How old am I? I’m old enough to remember Al Gore’s boorish debate stunt, and Dubya’s effortless response.

Those were the good old days of mannerliness.

It’s a very neurotic, creepy, controlling way to spend one’s time, worrying about who others are talking to, and it’s become something of a pastime for certain individuals on the left.

Jess Singal, Internecine Progressive Conflict Over ‘Platforming’ Is So Silly And Self-Defeating

Judging from morning-after coverage, I chose wisely by reading a good book instead of watching the Presidential debate.

If not debate bingo, how about a debate drinking game?

America makes history tonight, as the first ever televised debate between a terminal narcissist and a literal dead person will be held at 9 p.m., moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Fellow Useful Idiots host Katie Halper and I will be moderating a livestreamed debate drinking game ….

The Official Biden-Trump Debate Drinking Game - Reporting by Matt Taibbi.

I read the rules and there is no way I can play that game, having never (even in former Soviet Republic Georgia,, where the drinking is prodigious) consumed as much as would be required tonite under those rules.

No, both sides are not being hypocritical on Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, Merrick Garland’s purgatory.

(I hope Barrett is confirmed, but I’ll not exonerate Cocaine Mitch & Co.)

Having found out that another aging, irascible blogger besides me thinks Trump’s tax returns were leaked to the New York Times by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s office, you may call me “deeply conflicted”: Leaks from attorney offices are contemptible, mocking Trump delectable.

With the heart of a poet St. Gregory of Nyssa asserts, “Only wonder understands anything.”

The Poetry of God - Glory to God for All Things

I think Trump has internalized and updated an old maxim: when you owe the bank $421,000, it owns you; when you owe the bank $421,000,000, you own it.

Second thoughts about Wired

I wasn’t all that impressed with what Wired has become, as revealed when I took them up on a dirt-cheap subscription. But this month has three very heartening articles about what’s being done to fight various threats to our nation:

It appears that there finally exists a secure, transparent, auditable, and reliable voting system. A fine (long) Wired article explains the barriers and describes the solution.

I just discovered Freeform Notes in Readwise, because I had a bunch of notes from @ayjay’s latest book I didn’t want to lose, though I’d bought a paper version. Happy camper.

Who really cares which charismatic renewal group Margaret Atwood superficially noticed in the course of writing The Handmaid’s Tale, a competent dystopia that is famous mostly as the victim of multiple political hijackings? Is she an Oracle?

I read First Things since its inception. As a consequence, I get many pieces of mail (increasingly email) assuming I’m Catholic. Now, having subscribed to Commentary a few weeks ago, I’ve marked myself as Jewish, too.

Don’t assume that “they” know all about you with Big Data.

Vignette too good not to share: What I Learned From Amy Coney Barrett | Laura Wolk | First Things

Bald Eagles and Canadian Geese

For many of us who have grown up in small towns, we are drawn to the allure of the big city. We wonder if the big lake would be a better habitat than our small pond. The lights, the people, the excitement, and the money cause us to wonder if there is something out there that we don’t have here. Is there a part of the human experience that we are missing because we experience the night in the moonlight instead of the streetlight?

However, the question I inevitably have to come back to is what if my true habitat is actually here? What if I am not the bald eagle but am much more like the Canada geese that also makes their home in this same reservoir? They thrive in this habitat, and you can find a number of them just about any night you happen to be walking down the road. When I think that I have misjudged my habitat, maybe I have just misjudged what type of creature I am. If I am more like the Canada goose, then nothing is wrong with my habitat. It suits me. Looking for something else, instead of enjoying my present situation, will lead me to a less ideal place.

Zachary D. Schmoll, A Bigger Pond (Front Porch Republic)

They have erected a level of hell and call it paradise

Desires, in our modern parlance, were known by the ancients as the “passions.” Interestingly, the word for “passion” comes from a root that means to “suffer.” These universal experiences of longing, imagination, craving, and the like, were seen as alien to our well-being and afflictions to be moderated and even silenced. In Orthodox tradition, there is a goal, expressed in Greek as “apatheia” (“passionlessness”). Yes, that’s our word “apathy.” It does not mean “not caring,” but being free from the bondage of the ever-nagging sound of desires hounding our lives.

Our consumerist culture is … intentionally designed to nurture the passions. Indeed, it is structured in such a way that the failure of the passions would result in financial ruin. We live in a world that cannot exist unless we are all governed by our passions. To be an Orthodox Christian inevitably sets you on a collision course with the culture. Everything within our daily lives, indeed, a major portion of our opinions and thoughts are all the result of the reign of our passions. This has become such a dominant force in our lives that it is accurate to say that we imagine our passions to actually constitute our identity. That is a lie.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, From Desire to Necessity

You are too obvious, O Lord

Exceedingly sad is the blindness of the sons of men, who do not see the power and glory of the Lord. A bird lives in the forest, and does not see the forest. A fish swims in the water, and does not see the water. A mole lives in the earth, and does not see the earth. In truth, the similarity of man to birds, fish, and moles is exceedingly sad.

People, like animals, do not pay attention to what exists in excessive abundance, but only open their eyes before what is rare or exceptional.

There is too much of You, O Lord, my breath, therefore people do not see you. You are too obvious, O Lord, my sighing, therefore the attention of people is diverted from You and directed toward polar bears, toward rarities in the distance.

(Saint Nicolai Velimirovich, Prayers by the lake, chapter VII)

My main blog is the Tipsy Teetotaler, http://intellectualoid.com.