John Prine, 1946-2020

Over the three months since John Prine died of Covid-19, I’ve often found myself thinking about him. Maybe you have too, but probably not.

In some ways, he was a typical victim of the virus. He was in his seventies and severely immuno-compromised as a result of two near-death bouts with cancer. Since those illnesses, in 1998 and 2013, respectively, he had seemed to be held together by chewing gum, string and strength of character, and his voice had changed markedly.

But in this respect he was anything but typical: all that while he kept writing and performing marvelous songs – and a few that, as longtime readers of these posts know, really ticked me off.


I just completed a desultory bicycle ride; it was hot and sticky outside and I had no desire to push myself...

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Fauci’s Follies

I’m sure that Dr. Fauci is a bright guy and that he means well. My guess is that, like a lot of other dedicated doctors (and nurses), he has been working pretty much around the clock for months to slow the pandemic and ameliorate its effects on the American public. In spite of those admirable characteristics and efforts, though, as to his role of guiding the nation’s response to Covid-19, he’s well past his sell-by date.  

Dr. Fauci has made at least three mistakes that collectively show him to be the wrong man for the job.

The first of these, early-on in the crisis, was telling the American public that masks were useless when he knew the opposite to be true...

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The Virus Wanes/Our Media Panic

It irritates me that our media are full of what has aptly been described as panic porn with respect to the so-called Covid-19 reopening spikes, particularly given that the virus’s spread has been slowing for months. If you follow along for a bit, it won’t be hard for me to show you that slowdown with readily available data, simple math and a pinch of deductive reasoning, the combination of which elements seems to be beyond the capabilities of the overwhelming majority of journalists and television personalities.

This website will provide many of the data points...

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Nonessential Workers

One realization I found darkly amusing during the recent lockdowns is that I had spent much of my working life in jobs now all-too frankly described as nonessential. Kind of put me in my place.

Perhaps you had the same thought about your own roles. Almost certainly, the same is true of most people – I’d be curious to see the percentages. We nonessentials aren’t part of the supply chains necessary to sustain life.

I don’t mean to imply that nonessential jobs are unimportant. In addition to the value provided to customers, they provide sustenance for us and our families. And if we’re lucky, they’re fun and interesting. It’s just that other people won’t really suffer very much if we don’t show up.

Oh, maybe they’ll have fewer options for dining out, or for entert...

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Ours is becoming an undignified culture.

I’m not referring solely, or even primarily, to the protests, looting, riots and general hair-rending now so conspicuously on display in our cities and media. Nor am I narrowly focused on the lurid absence of self-restraint, sexual and otherwise, in our public culture – or even on the astonishing speed with which we are going ever-more deeply into debt as a nation. Those I see more as symptoms than as causes of the debasement of our culture.

One fundamental cause, I am convinced, is our culture’s gradual abandonment of the twin virtues of self-reliance and self-respect as the hallmarks of personal maturity. Another, closely related to the first, is the new (or, perhaps I should write, very old, as in: pre-Enlightenment) tendency to see pe...

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Original Sin

I quite like the concept of original sin. It neatly captures the premise that we are all flawed. And we are flawed; even the least self-aware among us knows that about him or her -self, whether or not he or she admits it.

To love others rather than simply idolize them we must accept that they, too, are flawed. Otherwise, we see only two dimensional portraits of impossible goodness.

The loves we feel for others are for their admirable characteristics, not their flaws, but we must know about the flaws to have any real understanding of them as people. The beauty that shines through the people we love overwhelms the darkness that makes them three dimensional.


Today, cancel culture is all the rage...

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Progressive Definitions

An abbreviated list of progressive definitions, organized thematically:

Progressives – the Righteous Rich and members of the New Class; holders of august credentials; great spirits

Ally – any white leftist who accepts the moral inferiority of his or her political standing relative to other leftists with higher Victimhood Status

Victims – Everybody else, except Trump Supporters

Evil Capitalists – the Non-Righteous Rich; Trump voters, even if of modest means

Racists – every person holding any non-progressive political position

Systemic Racism – the universal explanation for unequal results not favored by progressives

Climate Change – is anything hotter/dryer than expected? Cooler/wetter? That’s Climate Change.

Science Denier – anybody who doesn’t believe that Cli...

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An American Story

On a long bicycle ride just after dawn today, the friend with whom I was riding told me a timely and compelling story.

We live in a prosperous suburb of New York. One of the communitarian things my friend does there is help moderate a Facebook group on which the town’s parents share their thoughts about local matters. Recently, the group went crazy over a video that may have shown racist behavior by a local restaurant and/or the police.

The video, my friend explained, showed a fracas between three young African-Americans and a policeman (or perhaps it was two policemen) on the street just outside the restaurant. Evidently, the young people had had some sort of argument with the restaurant and somebody had called the cops...

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Guest Post

I received the following thoughts in an email from Doug – an old friend and occasional CH commenter – and thought you might find them interesting; with his permission, they are reprinted in italics below:

I have been spending a little too much time thinking about process and not outcomes in relation to the current state of discord and anarchy in our cities and country as a whole.

Basically, I am of the opinion that people hate Trump because he is an EXECUTIVE, i.e. head of the Executive Branch of Government and attempting to do his job to faithfully execute the laws: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”


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Don’t Know Much About…

What do you think the odds would be on a bet that if a handful of protesters were chosen at random from within the CHAZ, even one of them could name the last ten presidents of the United States in order, with a reasonably accurate bit of information about each?

I’m sure you’ll agree that the odds would be long. Knowledge of American history – which, after all, is the most immediately relevant context out of which our present circumstances were woven – is not a particularly conspicuous strength of the foot soldiers of the would-be Social Justice Revolution...

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