Friday, November 30, 2007

Nugatory Discomfiture

You guessed it, it's time for this week's vocabulary adventure. It's never been my intention to discomfit my readers on this page. Nobody wants to toil and moil over a blog post, just read and enjoy. That's why here in my virtual hibernaculum, the decision was made to link each new and challenging word from my Word-a-day calendar to its definition at

In unrelated domestic news, this is the week of the annual major appliance or plumbing fixture breakdown at the Dugan manse. We lose at least one each year during the Christmas holiday. This time it's the overpriced built-in microwave that is kaput. An over-priced replacement unit is on order.

Couldn't think of a kind way to use the word "porcine," though in the political season, all sorts of unkind usage comes easily. I'll take suggestions...

My favorite new word? Nugatory, hands down.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ex Cathedra Persiflage

A quick check on my StatCounter the other day showed a grand total of 0 (zero) readers that day, raising the philosophical question: If a blogger posts in the forest, and there is nobody there to read it, does it make a sound?

Some would say that perhaps a new post more often than every 12 days might generate a little more interest, and while I would tend to agree, I also think interesting content might be helpful. But there, of course, is the rub. I've tried multi-page ramblings on church history and ecclesiology, exhortations and pontifications religious and political, some attempts at humor, and pictures of my grandson Will.

So far, the best content idea has probably been the baby picture, but that last string of long words leads to another idea, a new feature sure to overload my StatCounter within days—once the buzz begins throughout the blogosphere: The Word-a-Day Vocabulary Practice post. I have on my desk the Workman Publishing daily tear-off calendar that features a new, often obscure, English word, its definition and a usually entertaining bit of background and instruction about proper usage. The only way to truly add to one's vocabulary is to deliberately use a new word in daily conversation, so about once a week (if I feel like it) I will be posting something that includes that week's Word-a-Day offerings. Here's a start. See if you can pick out this week's words, then as needed, head for

When you think about it, most blog posts are little more than a pleasant causerie, carried on between friends and relatives. Occasionally they degenerate into a kind of mindless persiflage, but most jaded readers prefer even that to the sentimental treacle common to many of the posts we read. Not to be too stringent in what I demand of fellow bloggers and others, I'm truly suspicious only of those who in their own fevered imaginations claim to speak ex cathedra.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Extended Adolescence of the Evangelical Mindset
Came across this entertaining post, "To Baldly Go" by Carl Trueman at Reformation 21. He has some funny stuff about the phenomenon of hair loss and cover-up and then gets a little more pointed on youth-culture obsession among the middle-aged:
...what is it with ministers and Christian leaders who seem to feel a compulsive need to talk about youth culture all the time and to adopt the styles of self-obsessed teenagers in order to demonstrate how `relevant’ their ministries are and how hidebound everybody else’s are? Above all, the arrival among the forty-somethings of the soul patch, that absurdly redundant tuft of hair just below the bottom lip, says it all. That middle-aged ministers think that they are somehow culturally more attuned or useful because they lecture their peers about what kids do or do not believe, and because they adopt the aesthetics and style of the modern metrosexual is a bizarre and sad turn of events.
His observations:
First, in the world of today, as of yesterday, kids find old people (i.e., anyone over twenty-five) to be embarrassing and implausible...
Second, the Bible itself does not seem to put much stock in what the kids think.
Third, the gospel just is not cool.
And finally,
But the point of priorities is basic and important: don’t let your mid-life crisis determine the way you think about the gospel and the church. A hairstyle which tries to hide the ageing process is one thing, ridiculous but harmless; a theological agenda which mimics the world’s obsession with locating wisdom in the very sector of society with least experience of, and perspective on, everything is far more serious and potentially damaging.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Run for Your Lives, the Baby Boomers Are Coming
P.J. O'Rourke nails it in the Weekly Standard. On the heels of the Greatest Generation the spectre of the Least Generation hitting retirement ought to strike fear in the body politic. We are the biggest bunch of silvery-templed whiners in history. We're so-o-o needy, and we're about to elect another one of our own to the highest office in the land! Hilarious but frightening piece.
So just give us all the money in the federal, state, and local budget. Forget spending on the military, education, and infrastructure. What with Iraq, falling SAT scores, and that bridge collapse in Minneapolis, it's not like the military, education, and infrastructure are doing very well anyway. Besides, you don't have a choice. We are 80 million strong. That's a number equal to almost two-thirds of the registered voters in the United States. Do what we say or we will ballot you into a socio-economic condition that will make North Korea look like the clubhouse at Pebble Beach. And that's the good news....
The Media and Objectivity
Pat Shortridge at Truth vs. The Machine identifies a revealing trend over at the hapless Minneapolis Star and Tribune. As our own little gray lady continues to take on water, it seems that a steady stream of "journalists" have been observed scampering down her frayed hawsers and into the employ of local liberal (gasp!) politicians. Money quote:
Now, again, I believe in free markets. I begrudge no one a better job making more money doing what they love. But it comes back to the hypocrisy and intellectual honesty. If you want to play on the liberal team, grab a jersey and get in the game. Just don’t pretend that you’re a fair minded, impartial adjudicator wearing a striped shirt.