Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pournelle and Mackenzie on preserving civilization

From scifi author Jerry Pournelle in the March 1983 number of Survive magazine:

Probably the most valuable book I own is MacKenzie's 10,000 Formulas. Published in 1868, it has 400 pages telling how to make everything known about at the time. The section on medicines is useful only for amusement, but MacKenzie shows how to butcher animals, smoke and preserve meat, make soap, gunpowder and fireworks, and how to brew beer–from choosing the barley and hops to malting the barley ("Throw the malt up into a heap as high as possible, where let it lie till it grows as hot as the hand can bear it, which usually happens in the space of about 30 hours"). Alas, nothing else like MacKenzie's book seems to be available.

Here's a link to the Google Books copy of Mackenzie, along with its magnificent subtitle:

Mackenzie's ten thousand receipts: in all the useful and domestic arts constituting a complete and practical library, relating to agriculture, angling, bees, bleaching, book-keeping, brewing, cotton culture, crocheting, carving, cholera, cooking, calico printing, confectionery, cements, chemical receipts, cosmetics, diseases, dairy, dentistry, dialysis, decalcomania, dyeing, distillation, enamelling, engraving, electro-plating, electrotyping, fish culture, farriery, food, flower gardening, fireworks, gas metres, gilding, glass, health, horsemanship, inks, jewellers' paste, knitting, knots, lithography, mercantile calculations, medicine, miscellaneous receipts, metallurgy, mezzotints, oil colors, oils, painting, perfumery, pastry, petroleum, pickling, poisons and antidotes, potichomania, proof-reading, pottery, preserving, photography, pyrotechnics, rural and domestic economy, sugar raising, silvering, scouring, silk and silk-worms, sorghum, tobacco culture, tanning, trees, telegraphing, varnishes, vegetable gardening, weights and measures, wines, etc., etc., being an entirely new edition carefully revised and re-written, and containing the improvements and discoveries up to last date of publication, January, 1867.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Narrative interlude #3

NARRATOR: "After a short absence, Andrew Cusack and his dot-com returned, the latter sporting a lively and attractive new header, and there was much rejoicing."

ALL: "Yay! Yay!"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's alive (again)

I'm putting the band back together. (I have to try some blog design ideas, but this here blogspot stuff is too fussy.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where's a map when you need one?

I'd like to see the trail of laws, amendments and court decisions that led to this from this:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Happy birthday!

Around here it's pretty much always someone's birthday or half-birthday or name day or whatnot. Today it's our youngest child's turn - she turns five today. Here's my wife:

My baby is five! That's right. Today Quinta, my youngest child, turns five years old. I spent six months on bedrest to get this child full-term. She was worth every minute. I had a caesarean section to deliver her. She was worth every anxiety. There were complications with her delivery and I ended up with a hysterectomy. She is greater than my wishes for more children.

This sweet child on her fifth birthday is a bright shining jewel: a tremendous blessing from God. She fills our lives with laughter and dancing. I am more grateful than she can know for her very being and her being in OUR family. I love you, Sugar. Happy Birthday, Baby!

She's requested a chocolate heart-shaped cake with pink icing (to be delivered by Mamaw), and a birthday menu: oatmeal for breakfast, McDonald's for lunch, and biscuits and sausage gravy for supper. Her favorite Sodor engine, Hiro, is among her gifts and Mamaw and Papaw are on their way have arrived from Indiana.

Project Gutenberg #6

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nameplate fun

I've spend odd moments working on a blog redesign in drupal. Here's a possible nameplate centered on a funny bird I found in an old book at Project Gutenberg; the font is Windsor, which I discovered via the inimitable Andrew Cusack. The notion of putting a large thingamajig between the words came from Mr Cusack's own blog design and his note about the International Herald Tribune's evolving dingbat.


A taste for books

Bibliomania at Project Gutenberg: a resource page.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Project Gutenberg #5

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Project Gutenberg #2

Friday, November 6, 2009

Project Gutenberg #1

I subscribe to Project Gutenberg's daily rss feed of new books, so I think I'll post a few interesting ones here each day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Unclear on the concept

From the local freecycle list this morning:

My sister is offering a set of encyclopedia's. They are probably 20 - 25 years old. They are in a near empty storage unit that we are trying to empty out totally. They would be great to cut up for school/college projects in history.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From the UPS man

The ISI edition of Orestes Brownson's The American Republic arrived todayMy initial impressions: good solid typesetting with a stylish but unobtrusive italic face (I would have known these faces 15 years ago); a beautiful buff and blue cover with a dark red spine; a readable and useful introduction by Peter Lawler that's nearly half the length of Brownson's work.

Every time I see the UPS man I think of Arthur Clarke's line upon receipt of Stephen Wolfram's massive A New Kind of Science at his Sri Lankan lair: "another ruptured postman staggers away from my front door."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Seven quick takes


  • The kids are down with a bronchial infection caused by a mycoplasma.  It's going around, and it's often misdiagnosed as flu.
  • Orestes A. Brownson is online!
  • Over the Rhine!  It takes me about two days to make my way through their discography, which I've done nearly every day for the last couple of months.  Some of their songs are shockingly beautiful from the first note; others are good pop songs until the moment when they uncork some unexpected harmonic something and perfection is achieved.
  • The yard is carpeted with gold.
  • Judging by the volume of her voice, a certain 4-year-old should have gone to bed a couple of hours ago.
  • Migne's complete Patrologia Latina is now online and freely accessible, according to Rod Letchford's formidable google sleuthing.
  • If you're interested the American constitution and our founding, Brownson's The American Republic is indispensible reading.

The works of Orestes A. Brownson

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm, like, happy and everything

"Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!"  That's Psalm 137, talking about the happiness of those who dash their enemies' children against the rock.  In Patristic exegesis, happy are those who take even the beginnings of temptation and dash them against the Rock, Christ.  In homeschooling, happy is the Dad who can dash against the rock his son's misuse of "like" the first moment it ever happens.  He was talking about looking for a paper airplane that had landed on a ceiling fan.  He reported, "I was like, 'Where is that plane?'"  We don't allow such offensive barbarisms in their speech and he was instantly, gently and firmly corrected.

Why, yes, I am uptight about some things.  Why do you ask?

Urban farming in Detroit

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The lingering effect of the Civil War

I've finally made my way to Orestes Brownson's The American Republic in my tour through the bibliography of American history.  Here's a notable quote that may explain the US government's centralizing collectivist tendencies of the last many decades, and along the way he hints at the unexpected and sometimes long-hidden effects of the slaughter of wholesale war:

The great problem of our statesmen has been from the first, How to assert union without consolidation, and State rights without disintegration? Have they, as yet, solved that problem? The war has silenced the State sovereignty doctrine, indeed, but has it done so without lesion to State rights? Has it done it without asserting the General government as the supreme, central, or national government? Has it done it without striking a dangerous blow at the federal element of the constitution? In suppressing by armed force the doctrine that the States are severally sovereign, what barrier is left against consolidation? Has not one danger been removed only to give place to another?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bzzzzzt

For the first time since the American invasion of Iraq I turned to CNN to see what's new.  The big news was some movie about Michael Jackson called "This Is It."  Wrong answer, CNN.  I'll check back in another decade or so, if you're still around then.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My favorite book is online!

Bulwark of the Republic: A Biography of the Constitution, Burton Hendrick, 1937.

Here's a review from Time magazine the summer the book was published.  I don't recall the author being the enthusiast about the usurpations of Roosevelt II that Time presents, but then I haven't read it in a decade - my last reading of it was in '98 or '99 when our second child was a baby.   The reading before that was in '89 or '90; I recall reading the sections on Webster and Lincoln at the laundromat in Shelbyville back when I was working at Butch's Amoco in Findlay.

I'll give it another read now that one of our two copies has been discovered on a bookshelf in the foyer.

(Come to think of it, The Founders' Constitution is now my favorite book, with Bulwark probably coming in second.  All this is after the absolute frontrunners, Psalms and the Gospel of Mark.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Seven quick takes


  • There's nothing better than beef & noodles on mashed potatoes.
  • I'm currently on an American history kick (one of my ever-revolving cycle of interests) with this and this. The former is inspired by the Texans who are talking secession - I'm trying to see whether that idea makes sense. The latter is the first in my in-depth note-taking course in American history. Every time I find a date I note it in a file, the goal being a comprehensive database of American history. A happy consequence is that it slows my reading down so more of it sinks in and I have time to make connections and explore side roads. I chose that book more or less at random - I had trouble finding a list of early histories of America, and this one covered the pre-Revolutionary period I wanted to start in. As I come across references to other books and build a bibliography, I'll uncover more early histories.
  • Mmm... fresh clean socks.
  • Why could a cat pee on a dvd?
  • Lisa's off to a Mom's night out - her Mom's group is meeting to assemble meals to take home & freeze.
  • When covering Greek myths with the kids, follow Edith Hamilton rather than Robert Graves. He gives all the sick depraved details; she politely glosses over them.
  • Did you know the northern states were seriously planning secession back when Jefferson was president?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I guess I can trust Highlights

"Crimson Harvest" - that's the title of an article 11yo Secunda is reading in the current Highlights magazine. When I saw the title I thought "oh great - some liberal bigot going on about how the Inuit seal harvest is so damned cruel, lots of bloody pictures, lefty propaganda for the kiddies, etc." Well, no - it's an article about harvesting cranberries. It seems we really can trust Highlights. Unlike the sadly politicized National Geographic, which is basically a polysyllabic Time magazine. We cancelled that crap after a few months' subscription.

Ha! I just went to the National Geographic website - the title of the homepage is "National Geographic - Inspiring People to Care About the Planet." In other words, we have a BBC-style climate-nut agenda we'll push in every article.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Final Exit

I'd bet a paycheck that sometime in the next 10 years, before the end of 2019, there'll be a "reality" show on teevee featuring a different suicide every week. Each suicide will be a noble person with some dread affliction of the week, taking the brave way out accompanied by a loving tearful family who agrees that it's the right thing to do. It could be followed each week by the funeral/casket/ash bucket equivalent of Say Yes to the Dress.

What could you do with half a million bucks?

recovery.gov says they've stolen 16 billion dollars to create (or save) 30 thousand jobs. If you dare to do the math, that's about half a million dollars per job. So that's what the government can do with $500,000. I think I could do a hell of a lot better than that, all by my little own lonesome.

UPDATE: see subsidiarity, a word from which King Obama's czars, sultans and potentates recoil in horror.

A disappointing discovery

Sugar hides the taste of what it's in. I don't know why I didn't notice this sometime in the last 20 years. I've been drinking fresh-brewed tea without sugar for a few months, but recently I idly added a couple of teaspoons to sugar to a cup. It was disappointing to find half the tea's flavors gone, replaced by vile sweet sugar.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Liberty once lost, or, The Prophetic Mr Adams #1

John Adams to his wife Abigail, July 7, 1775:

Your Description of the Distresses of the worthy Inhabitants of Boston, and the other Sea Port Towns, is enough to melt an Heart of stone. Our Consolation must be this, my dear, that Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.

The greatness of Christopher Columbus

In what does the greatness of Christopher Columbus consist?

We say not that he was unmoved by perfectly honourable aspirations after knowledge, and deserving well of human society; nor did he despise glory, which is a most engrossing ideal to great souls; nor did he altogether scorn a hope of advantages to himself; but to him far before all these human considerations was the consideration of his ancient faith, which questionless dowered him with strength of mind and will, and often strengthened and consoled him in the midst of the greatest difficulties. This view and aim is known to have possessed his mind above all; namely, to open a way for the Gospel over new lands and seas.

And this is precisely why Columbus is portrayed as one of history's greatest monsters in today's government schools.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seven quick takes


  • It's payday! Which means... it's grocery day! So maybe tomorrow I can make pizzas for supper. Can't today because we have no tomatoes - whole, canned, diced or pasted - for a tomato sauce, and no butter & Permesan for an alfredo sauce.
  • 4yo Quinta has been banned to my office for excessive screaming and crying.
  • 7yo Tertius wore his new Cub Scout uniform shirt to scouts last night, and got his Bobcat badge. Like 12yo Primus, he looks spiffy in his scout uniform. We have good-looking kids (of course).
  • She's progressed to steady quiet whining.
  • My favorite blanket used to be "Old Scratchy", made of a material that irritates my wife but is preternaturally warm, even when the material itself is cold. I've left Old Scratchy for a down comforter and now Harry the cat has adopted it.
  • If it weren't for Aldi's we'd be sunk.
  • 12yo Primus consistently produces whoopee-cushion-quality farts. Maybe he can get a high-paying job in Hollywood as a foley artist.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Patristic homilies for Sundays and feasts

Vide. Gregory the Great, Jerome, Bede, Ambrose, Augustine, Leo, Gregory Nazianzus, Hilary, Chrysostom, Chrysologus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A young boy's books

John Randolph, born in 1773, described his boyhood reading:

One of the first books I ever read was Voltaire's Charles XII.; about the same time, 1780-1, I read the Spectator; and used to steal away to the closet containing them. The letters from his correspondents were my favorites. I read Humphrey Clinker, also; that is Win's and Tabby's letters, with great delight, for I could spell at that age, pretty correctly. Reynard, the Fox, came next, I think; then tales of the Genii and Arabian Nights. This last, and Shakespeare, were my idols. I had read them with Don Quixote, Gil Bias, Quintus Curtius, Plutarch, Pope's Homer, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver, Tom Jones, Orlando Furioso, and Thomson's Seasons, before I was eleven years; also, Goldsmith's Roman History, 2 vols., 8 vo., and an old history of Braddock's war.

From an 1819 letter to a young relative which is signed, I have scribbled at a great rate. Do thou likewise.

Butler's Lives: October 14

In Congress, December 2, 1799

Twenty-six-year-old John Randolph, representative from Virginia, first takes his seat in Congress at Philadelphia. William Plumer of New Hampshire described him in 1803:

Mr. Randolph goes to the House booted and spurred, with his whip in hand, in imitation, it is said, of members of the British Parliament. He is a very slight man but of the common stature. At a little distance, he does not appear older than you are; but, upon a nearer approach, you perceive his wrinkles and grey hairs. He is, I believe, about thirty. He is a descendant in the right line from the celebrated Indian Princess, Pochahontas. The Federalists ridicule and affect to despise him; but a despised foe often proves a dangerous enemy. His talents are certainly far above mediocrity. As a popular speaker, he is not inferior to any man in the House. I admire his ingenuity and address; but I dislike his politics.

William Henry Harrison, also 26, a new representative from the territory northwest of the Ohio River, arrived late that day and was sworn in after the other representatives.

Beveridge's John Marshall

Albert Beveridge's four-volume biography of John Marshall is available at the Internet Archive. Russell Kirk says Beveridge writes well about many aspects of rural Virginia life from 1755 to 1835.
  • Volume 1: Frontiersman, Soldier, Lawmaker: 1755-1788
  • Volume 2: Politician, Diplomatist, Statesman: 1789-1801
  • Volume 3: Conflict and Construction: 1900-1815
  • Volume 4: The Building of the Nation: 1815-1835

Monday, October 12, 2009

Get your laws off our sacraments

Just something I stumbled across in my archives from 2003:

I don't think government should claim any authority over marriage, which is not only a sacrament but an integral part of the natural law, which precedes and supercedes any claims of government. The government has no more right to define the nature of marriage than it has to define the nature of, say, the Eucharist.

Give the government that power [to regulate marriage], and soon enough it will attempt to define the nature of the Eucharist; it will define our prayers and worship as child abuse, our Scriptures as hate speech, our acts of charity as crimes against humanity, and so on.

Augustine's letter to Proba

The 1950s CUA translation is online, along with the nearly-complete collection of Augustine's letters.

Kirk's "Randolph of Roanoke"

Online! Nearly every day I'm astounded at what can be found at the Internet Archive. Today's astonishment was occasioned by the discovery of Russell Kirk's Randolph of Roanoke: A Study in Conservative Thought - intact, complete and free in a variety of formats.

I loves me the internet.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Old-time catsup/ketchup recipes

Catsup (ketchup, if you prefer) has been on my mind since supper two nights ago. I'm starting a personal jihad against high-fructose corn syrup, which is what catsup is nowadays, so I wondered what catsup used to be and how I'd make it from scratch.

Well, it started out as a tangy tasty dipping sauce, and there are all kinds of catsup, including tomato catsup, green tomato catsup, walnut catsup, oyster catsup, mushroom catsup, gooseberry catsup, cucumber catsup, currant catsup, apple catsup, and a couple of tarted-up vinegars filed under catsup: celery vinegar and spiced vinegar. All those are from this 1887 book which serendipitously appeared at Project Gutenberg this morning: the The White House Cook Book: Cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner-giving, Table Etiquette, Care of the Sick, Health Suggestions, Facts Worth Knowing, Etc., Etc., The Whole Comprising a Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home, by Mrs. F.L. Gillette and Hugo Ziemann, Steward of the White House.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cranmer's collects

Online from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, courtesy of William S Peterson. Please, take a look and read a couple of them aloud. That there is what the English language was meant to do. Note how gracefully and easily the tongue and lips move when they pronounce perfectly-composed English. Cranmer may have been a crazed schismatic, but he sure could write.

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick & the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth & reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.


Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick & the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth & reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

B. Franklin on the pleasure of conversation


How unfortunate I was, that I did not press you and Lady Kames more strongly to favour us with your company farther.  How much more agreeable would our journey have been, if we could have enjoyed you as far as York.  We could have beguiled the way, by discoursing of a thousand things, that now we may never have an opportunity of considering together; for conversation warms the mind, enlivens the imagination, and is continually starting fresh game, that is immediately pursued and taken, and which would never have occurred in the duller intercourse of epistolary correspondence.  So that whenever I reflect on the great pleasure and advantage I received from the free communication of sentiment, in the conversations we had at Kames, and in the agreeable little rides to the Tweed side, I shall for ever regret our premature parting.

-- Benjamin Franklin, in a 1760 letter to Henry Home, Lord Kames, in volume 4, pages 3-4, of The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Albert Henry Smyth. New York: Macmillan Co., 1905--7.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Seven quick takes

  • Fresh-picked basil atop the pizza sauce and below the rest of the toppings!
  • America's Funniest Home Videos is our guilty teevee pleasure.
  • I tuned my acoustic guitar down a few steps and now it won't stay in tune.
  • I'm working on a texinfo edition of the King James Bible.
  • Irish breakfast tea is stronger and tastier than English breakfast tea.
  • I've rediscovered http://www.universalis.com
  • You can hear the influence of Pete Townsend in this 1969 video from Shocking Blue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2DBcbZc3ck

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A government program I can get behind


The Afghan oxymoron

"Afghan democracy" is one of those phrases like "jumbo shrimp" or "honest politician" - one term contradicts the other.  The key point from Michael Yon's latest dispatch: "Democracy" does not grow on land where most people don't vote. It's a fool's game to try to establish a democracy in Afghanistan.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CUA Fathers: Chrysostom's homilies on the Gospel of John

Sidneian Psalms: Psalm 6

Domine, ne in furore.

Lord, lett not mee a worm by thee be shent,
      While thou art in the heate of thy displeasure;
Nor let thy rage of my due punnishment
                  Become the measure.


But mercy, Lord, lett mercy thine descend,
      For I am weake, and in my weaknes languish:
Lord, help, for ev'n my bones their marrow spend
                  With cruel anguish.

Catena aurea: Matthew 21

Butler's Lives: September 17

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Catena aurea: Matthew 12

Butler's Lives: September 8

Mary, Arius, Newman and Hunwicke

Fr Hunwicke has a great post today about the Arian idea of "an exalted mediatorial - yet created - being". The Arians put Christ there, somewhere just below Godhood; something up with which the Church could not put.

The passage from Newman that Fr Hunwicke quotes is from chapter 4, section 8 of his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The sermons of St Bernard on the Song of Songs

The sermon titles are omitted here since they would attract many of the inferior breeds of Homo Googlensis. See the "Table of Contents" link below for a guide to the sermons.

Sidneian Psalms: Psalm 4

Cum invocarem.

Heare me, O, heare me when I call,
         O God, God of my equity !
         Thou sett'st me free when I was thrall,
         Have mercy therefore still on me,
         And hearken how I pray to thee.

O men, whose fathers were but men,
         Till when will ye my honor high
         Stain with your blasphemies? till when
         Such pleasure take in vanity?
         And only haunt where lies do lye.

Yet know this to, that God did take,
         When he chose me, a godly one;
         Such one, I say, that when I make
         My cryeng plaintes to him alone,
         He will give good eare to my moane.

O, tremble then with awfull will;
         Sinne from all rule in you depose,
         Talk with your harts and yet be still;
         And, when your chamber you do close,
         Your selves, yet to your selves disclose.

The sacrifices sacrifie
         Of just desires, on justice staid;
         Trust in that Lord that cannot ly.
         Indeed full many folkes have said,
         From whence shall come to us such aid?

But, Lord, lift thou upon our sight
         The shining; cleerenes of thy face;
         Where I have found more harts delight;
         Then they whose store in harvests space
         Of grain and wine fills stoaring place.

So I in peace and peacefull blisse
         Will lay me down and take my rest:
         For it is thou, Lord, thou it is,
         By pow'r of whose own onely brest
         I dwell, laid up in safest neast.