Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday morning before work

Reading Waugh, listening to Chopin, sipping tea - perhaps I am living out a cliche, but it is an increasingly rare cliche, if such a thing is possible. A very fine moment, nonetheless. Reading Waugh? Yes, I'm a hundred pages into Men at Arms, first of the Sword of Honour trilogy. I still must provide a report on Kerouac's Town & City, which I finished a while ago. In the works, but don't expect anything profound. Alas, the holiday season of excess has kept us retailers in a whirlwind state, though it has yet to prove fatal in Pensacola as it has in New York. Is there any greater indication that our society needs to reevaluate its priorities? Yet, nothing new exists under the sun. I don't doubt that Mencken would find much familiar in our time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

- John James Audobon, 1830

- Robert Walter Weir, 1844

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reitan: Is God a Delusion?

This book looks remarkable, not least because it came out of Stillwater, Oklahoma! (Reitan is an associate professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University - a philosopher-cowboy?) Is God a Delusion, hot off the press from Wiley-Blackwell (a heady publisher if there ever was one), promises to be one of the more thoughtful responses to Richard Dawkins & Co.'s boorish broadsides against religious belief. Although it must be said that Dawkins will have to work much harder to match the withering vitriol and hellfire of a Chick tract. Christopher Hitchens, however, no mere novice when it comes to low-brow-blows, may find the goal attainable.
By the way, note Reitan's reference to Schleiermacher, early nineteenth-century German theologian and author of the classic work On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers. Many credit Schleiermacher as the father of modern liberal theology. Does Reitan seek to make such a connection, grounding his critical response in Enlightenment thought, or is he simply making use of a catchy title? Since it may be a very long time before I get to Reitan's book, dear readers, perhaps you will have the opportunity to investigate this question more speedily.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Far East Mini Club

My brother Josh has started a Far East Mini Club in Fussa, Japan. Check it out at Sarah's blog.

Lunch the other day

Fried egg, sharp cheddar, oven-baked chicken, and steamed spinach on English muffins with Jack Daniels horseradish mustard. They really did taste better than they looked.

Favored chocolate of the moment

Friday, November 14, 2008

PHS Presentation: Palmetto Beach Amusement Park

Here's the announcement for my upcoming presentation on Palmetto Beach at the Pensacola Historical Society on Monday evening:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

am Dienstags und der Lusitania

My ultracool wife Wendy has started an intermittent blog: am Dienstags. I don't know what that means. She is so teutonic.

In other news, I read recently that Lusitania is the Latin name for Portugal. Here is a radical theory: Perhaps the Germans were trying to sink Portugal in WWI and accidentally hit an American ship instead?

Me and Mike Magnusson

This summer, I had the pleasure of running into an old high school chum, Mike Magnusson. We hadn't seen each other since he and his family left England for the States in '93. I didn't know Mike really well. We played football together. His sister Amy was in my class. Still, it's always great to run into an acquaintance of old. It always fazes and amazes me how memories of another time and another place seem more like a story I read than my actual life in the past.

Anyway, I worked with Mike's wife Vanessa at Starbucks this summer. I mentioned that I grew up in England, she said her husband had attended high school there, and through a little elementary deduction, I was amazed to find that she was married to Mike. Quelle coincidence! He's in the Coast Guard and was training at NAS Pensacola. They finally got orders to their next duty station, somewhere near Houston. This suits Mike just fine, because their families are in Texas. And St. Arnold's Brewery is in Houston.

I got to hang out with Mike a couple nights ago before he left. We ate at the venerable Goatlips (a favorite haunt of Pensacola archaeologists and historians), picked up a couple of cigars from Cordova Cigars (handpicked by John D. Melvin III himself - and only $3!), and enjoyed some Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale while we discussed beer, England, and Albuquerque (another place we've both lived, though at different times).

Here's a blurry phone-camera pic at my pad:

It should be noted that Mike once wore a neutral-coloured wetsuit in a little cove in Ibiza (youth group trip - yes, to Ibiza) with black stitching down his backside that made him look entirely nude from a distance. I'm not sure he was aware of this at the time.

And here's high school Mike ('93):

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Illich on institutions and a life of action

"I believe that a desirable future depends on our deliberately choosing a life of action over a life of consumption, on our engendering a life style which will enable us to be spontaneous, independent, yet related to each other, rather than maintaining a life style which only allows us to make and unmake, produce and consume - a style of life which is merely a way station on the road to the depletion and pollution of the environment. The future depends more upon our choice of institutions which support a life of action than on our developing new ideologies and technologies. We need a set of criteria which will permit us to recognize those institutions which support personal growth rather than addiction, as well as the will to invest our technological resources preferentially in such institutions of growth."

- Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pensacola book sale

I picked up C. S. Lewis' On Stories (big surprise, I know), C. Vann Woodward's Origins of the New South, 1877-1913, Norman Sherry's The Life of Graham Greene, Volume I: 1904-1939 (unfortunately terminating before Greene's espionage work in World War II), and Thomas Merton's Disputed Questions - all for $4.50. Not bad!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Plantinga online at CCEL

Amazingly, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library has published Alvin Plantinga's daunting and much lauded (and debated) philosophical work Warranted Christian Belief online at their website. Why is this amazing? It was published very recently - in 2000 - by Oxford University Press. Kudos to OUP for granting permission and to CCEL for making this significant addition to their already substantial online library. I hope CCEL will make many more recently published works of esoteric theological/philosophical inquiries available to grad students and other paupers with internet access.