Thursday, July 7, 2016

W.B. Yeats: The Meditation of the Old Fisherman

You waves, though you dance by my feet like children at play,
Though you glow and you glance, though you purr and you dart;
In the Junes that were warmer than these are, the waves were more gay,
When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

The herring are not in the tides as they were of old;
My sorrow! for many a creak gave the creel in the cart
That carried the take to Sligo town to be sold,
When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

And ah, you proud maiden, you are not so fair when his oar
Is heard on the water, as they were, the proud and apart,
Who paced in the eve by the nets on the pebbly shore,
When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Fingernail Of A Saint

Whittaker Chambers in a letter to William F. Buckley Jr.:
It is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of western civilization. It is already a wreck from within. That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury it secretly in some flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and truth.
From "Odyssey Of A Friend: Letters To William F. Buckley, Jr. 1954-1961"

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

For Memorial day here's a notice from a Northern New York newspaper noting the departure of a group of 103 men to the World War I training camp named for Civil War general George Meade, at least one of whom had already served overseas:


More New York State Boys Are to Take the Maryland  "Cure."

    E. P. McAloon, 41st Company, 11th Ba., 154th Depot Brigade.
    In the July contingent of draftees which left Essex county, N. Y., early July 21 were representative men of the far-famed Adirondack mountains. After a strenuous journey for eighteen hours, 103 hardy men reported at Camp Meade. The jubilant spirit of the northern New Yorker was manifest throughout the journey, and a hearty salute was given to the good word of friends, Red Cross workers and the Y.M.C.A. men along the trip.
    When the line of men with Tom McDonald, Port Henry's best, as the captain of the party, halted for roll call at temporary quarters all men responded to the call which placed them in line with America’s best. At the head of the roll was Pierce McAloon of Keeseville, high school principal and lover of good fun. One other from Keeseville—George Waite—was there. He said that he had been “waiting” for this. Elizabethtown had her foremost representative in Bunker B. Hill, Adirondack lumberjack. Shades of revolutionary days will be with us when “Bunker Hill” marches into Berlin. The dark hour of 3 in the summer morning was brightened by one Sunn (Fred), a two-day bridegroom, also of E'town.
    Along with Port Henry's best came more of it. “Sweetheart” Holmes, a D. and H. railroader, with a wrist minus a watch. He said it didn't go, but it went as he threw it out of the car window. Every girl from Westport to Admiral saw the “Judge” as he rode by. Karl Lyons was with the bunch; also his sixteen aching teeth. “Doc” Kent came, too, but now his beautiful blonde has changed to a scarlet hue. A big touch of the real war across was with us in Bill Munson, lately returned from six months' service with the French field ambulance. Port Henry had others, too, all regular fellows.
  Ticonderoga, but a stone’s throw from historic old Fort Ticonderoga of revolutionary days, was strongly represented in “Cotton pin” Higgins, “Kack" Noyes, “Duckfoot” Porter and “Bob” Stott, formerly of the United States secret service.
    Essex, Westport and Port Kent, Lake Champlain towns, sent along such men as Jim Mullaly, “Bob” Sweatt, basket ball star; Charley Moore, feather-weight champion of Essex County Art League, and Arthur Morrow.
    The towns along the Ausable, The Forks, Keene, Jay and Placid, sent this crowd away with smiles: O’Toole, O’Hara and Danern, the “Fighting Irish,” along with a new American, Jack Maconi, seven years over from Italy. Among the anxious men from the Ausable region was Rueben Ferris, who is wondering if he’ll get a furlough for September 14. It’s his birthday and may be a wedding day, too.
    One error alone, a typographical one, nearly separated Ubald Desnoyers from the happy crowd. Essex county board had misspelled his name, but the lieutenant kept him with us, although Ubald thought he ought to go home.
    We are fast getting to be soldiers, and as our officer told us at our first conference that the impression he gained at first meeting such a well ordered crowd of men spoke well for the quality that Essex county, New York, is sending for the fight for right, we’re happy. “CUPE.”
    The above appeared in a Maryland newspaper and was sent us by John W. James.
 The Elizabethtown Post; August 15, 1918; page 3, column 4

Love the nicknames.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Bill Buckley Flashback

Back in the day, the National Review features "The Week" and "Notes & Asides" were sort of the pre-internet social media of the conservative movement with a Twitterish feel of short and pithy blurbiness.
I can recall an exchange, from the mid-1980s, between Bill Buckley and a reader who had written in that went (from memory) like this:
Correspondent: "Liberals are always accusing me of being a fascist. How should I respond?"
WFB: "Just say 'All the communists say that about me.' Of course, that sort of comment is tu quoque but fascists are known for that.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background?

The cosmologists are a bit wee-weed up over an announcement from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics coming up today at Noon, apparently of the detection of gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background by the BICEP2 telescope. It could be sort of a big deal, depending on just what they announce.

A webcast, "for scientists," is scheduled for 10:45 AM with a press conference to follow at 12:00 PM at

Papers and data to be available at at 10:45 AM

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Fractured Fairy Tale

A marine biologist became very attached to the mammals at the institute where he did his research. The death of one of the dolphins threw him into such a funk that he vowed to never let it happen again. So he developed a serum - from a certain tropical bird, as it happened – that would heal almost anything that ocean going mammals fell prey to. The institute's orca was among the longest-lived cetaceans in the world.

The serum eventually ran out and, unfortunately, it's extraction had required the destruction of the institute's only specimen of the bird. The scientist went to the city's zoo one night and sneaked into the aviary where he located another specimen. On this very night the zoo's rather elderly lion, long due for replacement but for the city's longstanding budgetary woes, escaped from it's pen. Exhausted after a short chase pursued by the zookeeper with the aid of the local police, he went to sleep across the footpath leading from the bird exhibit.

Just then the biologist came nervously racing towards the fences intent on escaping with the captured bird. He leaped over the dozing big cat right into the arms of the oncoming police who immediately placed him under arrest. They charged him with crossing a staid lion with a mynah for immortal porpoises.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Real Physics

I've gotten away from the blog "Real Physics" lately, though it was one of the first I had ever engaged. I met it's author, "Lawrence Gage," at a conference hosted by Dr. Anthony Rizzi at Notre Dame several years ago. The blog covers theology (Catholic), literature and current events as much  as physics, but has a good take on things. He's a big Tolkien aficionado as well. The author seems to have gotten away from it, too, though we can hope for a comeback;) Check it out, look through it's archives, you're sure to find something interesting enough to comment on. A little traffic is always encouraging to a blogger.

Also check out the link to Dr. Rizzi who is doing good work through his institute in undoing the current materialist, scientistic culture. He's a top-notch physicist who participated in setting up the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory (or LIGO) and worked on experiments included in missions to Mars. He made quite a mark in coming up with first satisfactory relativistic definition of angular momentum in a 1998 notice in Physical Review Letters, a popular account of which was presented in the journal Science (Both articles are unfortunately paywalled, but you might be able to get them through a local college or university. They commonly allow "townies" access to their library computers which are typically logged in to their subscriptions.) A Real Genius.

He has since written a book, "Physics for Realists," which presents his  approach to re-grounding science in a realist metaphysic. There is a brief review of it in The Review of Metaphysics by renowned Catholic philosopher Jude P. Dougherty, Dean Emeritus of the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Meadabawdy's Bookstore

I've set up a "bookstore" at Amazon with books on topics that I've intended to make staples of this blog. (You would be purchasing the titles through Amazon, not from me, with a smallish percentage going to me if you purchase through my links at no additional cost to you) A "tip jar," of a sort, in more of a free market mode: You spend your money on products and services that you find useful while throwing a benefit to me on the side for perhaps triggering your interest in worthy books.

Politics was much of the initial impetus for starting "meadabawdy" but you'll find I've listed much in the way of literature, - J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O'Connor, Dante - history, biography, and such. Even the overtly political tends to be more on the cultural groundings and tie-ins of politics. So, more political in the classical Greek sense of the word: The polis, the city. As in how we citizens agree to organize the public aspects of our lives together within our broader culture. So much of what is meant by politics these days is the tactical wheeling and dealing of electoral party politics. Consider this a re-inauguration of the blog as a conversation on topics with a longer time horizon than the buzz of the moment.

So here you go, somewhat on the theme of "Politics is downstream from culture," is Meadabawdy's Bookstore

Take up and read, as the lady said.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I've restored my old Blogspot blog while I get setup at Look for me there. When I get around to it. Hopefully soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

SEM: Search Engine Misdirection

Once in a while I notice traffic from a link from an old incarnation of (actually another site I managed; there was trouble with some dns settings) I suspect that there are some cached references in the search engines. If you arrived here looking for something more technical or scientific, apologies for the misdirection. And check back once in a while, I may hit those notes here once in a while.

The latest hit was from an old biographical blurb on Pierre Duhem, a French theoretical physicist from the turn of the last century (1861–1916: Was that the turn of the 19th or 20th century?) I'd like to write up something more substantial on him sometime, but could likely do no better than a distillation of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki's (pronounced "Yah-key") Uneasy Genius, which is out of print but available used (it's pricey) through Amazon. You might check Barnes & Noble, Alibris or other sites, or better still, a good local used book store.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Whittaker Chambers: A Man of the Right after 50 Years

Today (July 9, 2011) marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Whittaker Chambers. His autobiographical "Witness" is one of the greatest of modern times ("The Education of Henry Adams" is often cited here, "Witness" has the edge in actually being an autobiography).

I noted the upcoming date a while ago and meant to prepare a post on one of my favorite subjects but am happily beaten to the punch by David Chambers,
his grandson, writing at

David Mamet has claimed Whittaker Chambers as an influence in his "conversion" to the conservative side (though Chambers refused that designation claiming to be a "man of the right.") His own memoir, "The Secret Knowledge," does poorly in the comparison to Witness, though I suspect he didn't mean to offer a challenge and it's an unfair comparison.

(I have previously posted on WC's sense of humor here)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Will Percy on the Art of the Julep

The Kentucky Derby is upon us again (Ouchers! those horses are heavy) so for those who are inclined to this sort of thing, this is exactly the sort of thing to which you will incline.

Poet, lawyer and autobiographer William Alexander Percy (the uncle of Walker Percy, "The Moviegoer," "The Second Coming," etc.) wrote up his recollections of his father and friends imbibing Mint Juleps and gave the "right way" to make them in "Lanterns On The Levee; Recollections Of A Planter's Son" (New York, Alfred A Knopf, 1941)
First you needed excellent bourbon whisky; rye or Scotch would not do at all. Then you put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampened it with water. Next, very quickly - and here is the trick in the procedure - you crushed your ice, actually powdered it, preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remained dry, and slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, you crammed the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Last you filled the glass, which apparently had no room left for anything else, with bourbon, the older the better, and grated a bit of nutmeg on the top.
My own addition  to Percy's classic recipe is to proceed to throw out the concoction and pour two fingers of Makers's Mark, neat.

Will Percy's "Lanterns on the Levee," 2008 reprint
Walker Percy's Wikepedia entry
The Kentuck Derby horses

Monday, March 14, 2011

π Day

As Norm MacDonald asks on Twitter "Is it National Pi Day already. Where does the time go?" So, for the mathematically inclined who simply *must* have 1000 digits of π today, here goes:


Notice that the thousandth digit, 8, is the actual  digit of π and not correctly rounded, the next digit being 9.

I used the computer algebra system Maxima:  fpprec : 1000; bfloat(%pi);

Now stop wasting time and get back to work.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

St. Valentine's Day Follow Up

Yesterday's Valentine's Day poem was a little on the moody side, so here's one that's a bit more simply complimentary of your Valentine's good looks. Those of you who missed the day get another chance, I hope.

The Planters Daughter
by Austin Clarke

When night stirred at sea,
An the fire brought a crowd in
They say that her beauty
Was music in mouth
And few in the candlelight
Thought her too proud,
For the house of the planter
Is known by the trees.

Men that had seen her
Drank deep and were silent,
The women were speaking
Wherever she went --
As a bell that is rung
Or a wonder told shyly
And O she was the Sunday
In every week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

File under "Pomes, Pennyeach"

For your Valentine's day  woo pitching, here is William Butler Yeats:

                    When You Are Old

    When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Inaugural Post, In Which William F. Buckley, Jr. Gets a Vocabulary Lesson.

Whittaker Chambers is a favorite of mine and, while he is often thought of as somber, he was a very funny man - as Bill Rusher remembered him: "this ho-ho sort of guy." To wit, this letter to William F. Buckley, Jr.:
September 2, 1958
Dear Bill,
     Thank you for the Lolita, who has come to our house to stay. So far, I have met only three words which I did not recognize; and, as I cannot remember what they are, I must muddle through without them. If nictating1 puzzled you, that is perhaps because you did not learn, as a child, the meaning of haw, that is to say, "the nictating membrane or third eyelid of a horse." The grandeur of this definition, together with the fascinating fact that horses have three eyelids, has caused me to remember nictating all my life.  Perhaps phocine2 stumped you? If so, it is probably because the ph caused you to forget that Spanish calls the same thing: foca. (The French word for it is phoque; but, as we know, the French, they are a funny race, It is a quite innocuous word.) So much for lexicology.
1 Nictating membrane: "a thin membrane found in many animals at the inner angle or beneath the lower lid of the eye capable of extending across the eyeball."
(Webster's Third New International Dictionary)
2 Phocine: "of, relating to, or resembling seals." (Webster's Third New International Dictionary}*

Now that's funny. Both for the thought of Bill Buckley taking vocabulary instruction and the nicely oblique bomb of a certain sort dropped on the French.

*Odyssey Of A Friend: Letters To William F. Buckley, Jr. 1954-1961. 1987 reprint ed., page 212.
Current paperback ed., with foreword by Robert Novak here

CORRECTION: I carelessly linked to an edition of "Witness." A great book, too, but not what was called for here. A quick check suggests "Odyssey Of A Friend" is out of print, but used copies are available.

Update: The William A. Rusher quote is, more accurately and fully, "I was astonished to discover that he was this corpulent ho-ho sort of guy." Quoted in Chambers, "Ghosts On The Roof: The selected Journalism Of Whittaker Chambers" edited by Terry Teachout, page xxvii. In print in Paperback

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Finnegan's Wake"

How do you do, todo, North Mister? Get into
my way! Ah dearome forsailoshe! Gone over the bays! When
ginabawdy meadabawdy! Yerra, why would he heed that old
gasometer with his hooping coppin and his dyinboosycough and
all the birds of the southside after her, Minxy Cunningham, their
dear divorcee darling, jimmies and jonnies to be her jo?

James Joyce, "Finnegan's Wake"

"Comin' Thro' The Rye"

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?

Robbie Burns, verse 2 of "Coming Thro' The Rye"