Thursday, September 30, 2010

Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, Part II

Maria dropped me a note this morning and in the process of saying some very nice things about The Inn, [moran taing, a Mhairi] pointed out that Makem and Clancey did, in fact, record WYS,SN and cited me to the Amazon page for the relevant cd. A bit of googling resulted in a YouTube citation for the video performance. See above.

And, yes, I got the words wrong. Memoria fallax.


Found While Idling Away the Morning with Coffee in the Back Garden

In the October 4th number of The New Yorker:

In the first years of this magazine, technology was only a modest factor in its production. Harold Ross, the founder of The New Yorker and its first editor, often roamed the Algonquin and pressed his friends, the hotel’s literary habitués, to, well, write something. He was an editor acquainted with the nightmare of the empty page, the blank magazine. Once, when he asked Dorothy Parker why she wasn’t in the office writing, she replied, "Someone was using the pencil."

I was delighted to find that there is a Dorothy Parker Society and equally disappointed to view their web pages. Too anachronistic. And too silly. Dorothy Parker T-shirts? Eh, no.

On the other hand, there is a Robert Benchley Society that seemed worth a look. Oddly, though, no James Thurber Society that google can find. And, not surprisingly, no Alexander Woollcott Society. Who, indeed, remembers Woollcott? Nothing seems to be in print. The library found a couple of his for me last year but no one seemed to have touched them in decades. The librarian had never heard of him. Maybe if I searched for a Sheridan Whiteside Society. . . .


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Which Reminds Me. . . .

. . .of a Liam Clancy song of many years ago:

Whatever ya say, say nothing,
When you talk about you-know-what.
Cause if you-know-who is listening,
You know what you'll get:
They'll take you down to you-know-where
For you wouldn't know how long.
So, whatever you say, say nothing,
When you talk about you-know-what.

Did Clancy and Makem ever record that? They should have. It was in a live show or two. But I suppose a recording would increase that chances that you-know-who would hear it.

Found While Looking for Something Else

A post from Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor from four years ago:

As Fred observed some time ago, free speech is a myth. We all know what we can't say and who we can't say it about.

I suppose it's inevitable. Once you decide that all communities have to be diverse, and begin enforcing that with fines and jail terms, you will find that you must then regulate who says what and about whom, lest someone be upset. Well, it's all right if they're upset, but if they then set fire to cars and riot in the streets, that has to stop. The way to stop it is not to offend the rioters. Of course that kind of Danegeld never works, but our rulers usually try it.

Democracy works in a context of the rule of law, and a certain civility, and a fair degree of homogeneity in the communities where democracy rules. It worked pretty well in the Old South so long as you weren't black: that is, the political community was relatively homogeneous. And perhaps that's what we should learn from studying history, only no one studies history any longer: often the way to make democracy work is to reduce the diversity of the elements participating in the political decisions. That can be done by excluding some people, through legal segregation, through ethnic cleansing, or through federalism and voluntary emigration. Anything that can be called ethnic cleansing is taboo now, but it was done quite successfully in Switzerland about 1875, when one canton was forcibly divided in half and the Catholics were required to move to one half and the Protestants to the other. That stopped the conflicts. Of course they took their religious confession more seriously in this days. Now we don't, I mean no one takes religion seriously. And if you believe that, look into the modern history of Beirut. Then look where many of the refugees went.

We will continue to run the experiments in diversity with democracy. Our public schools, far from generating any sense of citizenship and community, promote the self esteem of the mass man, and denigrate any traditions and history we once had as being stories about dead white males. Far better to learn that Heather Has Two Mommies, than about the militia and King's Mountain.

But that's part of the remedy, you see. In order to have our diversity we must produce the New American Man, who, unlike Soviet New Man, will not be flawed with residual loyalties and ethnicities and nationalities problems.

And the highly self esteemed mass man marches on. It's glorious. What's a little free speech compared to that. Recall the judge in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. "God, it'll be glorious."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Reason For Liberalism's Success

You can find it in the October number of Chronicles. Unfortunately, it's not on line. But if you can find a copy at your local newsstand, look for Chilton Williamson, Jr's column and you'll find the reason for liberalism's success.

The reason for liberalism's success plainly has nothing to do with man's nature, or with Providence (as Tocqueville thought), or with the Triumph of Reason. It is the result, quite simply of a single, simple fact: Liberalism, in theory, and in practice, is easy. It is the prevailing simpleminded political doctrine (never to be confused with a philosophy) of weakminded people suffering from a form of intellectual and moral laziness that produces a debilitating, and finally fatal, acquiescence, slackness, timidity, cowardice, nonresistance, and surrender in true believers and fellow travelers alike, and, finally in those who happen merely to be hanging about the neighborhood.

He elucidates quite convincingly for a couple of pages. But not, alas, on-line.

The Battle of Graveney Marsh

Yesterday (the day it was too hot to post almost anything except a weather report) was the 70th anniversary of the last battle fought on mainland British soil. Nope, not Culloden in 1745.

It was Graveney Marsh in 1940.

Billeted at a pub on the Kent coast, they [D Company, the first battalion London Irish Rifles] had been ordered to capture any German aircrew shot down in the countryside. But the men of the 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles were to carve themselves a little-known place in military history: they fought the last ever battle to take place on the British mainland.

During the Battle of Britain, they had trooped out to pick up the crew of a crashed German bomber only to find the airmen waiting with machine guns. After a short battle the Germans surrendered – and their captors then took them for a pint at their local pub.

The extraordinary skirmish, which took place on September 27, 1940, has been nicknamed the Battle of Graveney Marsh.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Piping for the Weekend?

We had a very hot weekend and I had a class, the annual Interbranch Dance, an OCDS meeting and a treasurer's report to do, which, as usual I left until the last minute, and a traditional Mass to find since my usual one conflicted with the meeting.

And that's why you didn't have a piping post for this weekend. Nothing to do with indecipherable notes. And as it is now 12:45 p.m. and already 108 degrees Fahrenheit outside this non-air-conditioned office there probably won't be one later today either.

Enjoy your Monday. We're off to find an air-conditioned restaurant for some lunch.

"I wonder what I meant by that?" Dept.

As a past master of the undecipherable cryptic note to myself, I'm delighted to know that it doesn't only happen to me. According to Tim Grobaty's column in this morning's PT, it happens to people who actually get paid to string publishable words together. There would be many more posts in my assigned corner of cyberspace if I (a) had a better memory; (b) had more legible hand-writing; and/or (c) had less confidence that I would remember what I meant by the odd phrases that I jot down in my notebook. Sending e-mails to myself from my phone helps with (b) but not with (c).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


From "Portrait of the Week" in this year's 9/11 number of The Spectator:

Mr Ahmed Benzizine, a stonemason, had his image carved in stone as a gargoyle on the restored Lyon cathedral, with an accompanying inscription in arabic: 'Allahu Akbar'.

Hmm. Where to carve Christus Vincit?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Some Piping for the Weekend

Chloe Corrigan at 12 years of age playing the Northumbrian small pipes. The tunes are "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms" (a.k.a. "My Lodging's on the Cold Ground" in the Scottish repertoire) and "Madame Bonaparte" with her own variations.

Saturday for Our Lady

Someone cited this to me this evening. I'm awash in nostalgia. 15 seconds in and it's half a century ago and I'm up in the loft with the children's choir for the May devotions trying to keep the harmony harmonious.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sad News

Hilary reports today that Anne Roche Muggeridge died the other day. There were two of her books on my shelves: The Desolate City and The Gates of Hell. Her essays appeared in some of the better Catholic journals. May light perpetual shine upon her and may she rest in peace.

A Woodwind Quartet

Well, it is. Not, perhaps, what you were expecting, to be sure. This is a quartet from the Scottish Power PB playing some good stuff, even though it's not the weekend. (I think I owe you from last weekend anyway.) If you last to the end you'll hear a cracker version of The Little Cascade, with harmonies, no less.


Liturgical Omens

Today is the feast of Our Lady's Seven Dolours and yesterday was that of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Back in the middle of the last century when I was still diagramming sentences and finding the value of X under the tutelage of what were then The Good Sisters, these two feast days were fraught with deep meaning. For it was either on one or the other of them that the summer vacation effectively ended and the fall school term began. Sorrows or the Cross. Holy Mother Church understood schoolboys.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Did you have your coffee and a croissant yesterday?

Who would think you could honor Mary and celebrate a Catholic victory over Muslim invaders, just by having a cup of coffee and a croissant? Actually, you can.

Fr Phillips explains here.


Amid the Encircling Gloom

This is an excerpt from Thomas Fleming's editorial in the September 2009 number of Chronicles. Good old Dr Fleming. He never fails to depress. Because, of course, he is unquestionably correct.

The standards of erudition, among members of the political class, visibly declined by the middle of the 20th century, and I do not know who was the first president since World War II not to have studied Latin. There are many causes in the degeneration of American politicians, from the time of Webster and Calhoun to the days of the Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas, but the inability of our leaders to state an idea, frame a debate, or write their own speeches results in part from the purging of Latin from the curriculum of aspiring dictators.

The poor quality of the American political class - their mental and verbal incoherence, their self-deception, their lack of self discipline-makes it impossible for them to conceive, much less carry out, any reform or productive change. Any name of a current U.S. senator-nearly every one of them as unmanly as he is uneducated-would make the case for American degeneracy, so I will content myself with just one: Lindsey Graham. If this is the best that South Carolina Republicans can come up with, they may as well move to Illinois.

On the verge of despair, American conservatives are willing to support such impossible candidates as Chuck Baldwin or Sarah Palin on the grounds that their ignorance and inexperience have fortified them against the wiles of liberals and lobbyists, when, of course, the exact opposite is true. People who have never been exposed to any form of a disease are far more likely to fall victim to it.

It is a mistake to look to political leaders for any improvement. We have, as the saying goes, the leaders we deserve. An ignorant, undisciplined people is condemned to be misruled by ignorant and undisciplined leaders.

If you read the entire essay - and, of course, you should - you'll find he has a solution. Education. A proper education. A proper classical education. Nothing that's going to be in place by November, though. Sorry.


Friday the 13th. . . .

. . . .comes on a Monday this month. The usual precautions apply.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The D-Day Piper

Several people have sent me notices of Bill Millin's death last week. He was the only piper landing on D-Day in Normandy in 1944. The only one actually playing his pipes, at any rate. He was 87 years of age and living in a nursing home in Devon, England at the time of his death. The Isle of Man stamp shows Bill on the right, with just a bit of his bass drone showing. In June of this year a memorial statute of him was dedicated in Normandy also. It was a project of the people of Colleville-Montgomery, France.

Piper and Drummer magazine had a good obituary but as that part of the P&D is password protected I can't cite it to you. But here is a bit they quote from Voices From D-Day by Jonathan Bastable, published by David & Charles. This is D-Day in Bill Millin's own words:

"One day in May 1944, Lord Lovat told me he was forming his own commando brigade, and would like me to join and play the pipes. At that time the War Office had banned pipers in action. Lovat told me he was not bothered about the War Office and that I would be the only piper playing at Normandy. I took it as an honour.

"Everyone liked Lord Lovat, although we all thought that, at 32, he was a bit too old for the kind of daredevilry he enjoyed. He was a typical aristocrat who would walk calmly with his head held high while all the rest of us would be ducking and diving to avoid shells.

"We were the first out of our troop to reach the shore. The ramps on the boat went down and as we stepped off Lovat ordered me to play 'Highland Laddie.' I started playing as soon as I touched the water. Whenever I hear that song I remember walking through the surf.

"Wounded men were shocked to see me. They had been expecting to see a doctor or some kind of medical help. Instead they saw me in my kilt and playing the bagpipes. It was horrifying, as I felt so helpless.

"There was a small road leading off the beach and ten or twelve were lying wounded at its entrance. Some of them said: 'Are the medics here, Jock? 'I told them not to worry: the doctors would be coming. I took shelter behind a low wall and watched as a flail tank made its way towards the road and the wounded men. I quickly got up and waved my hands frantically over my head, hoping to get the attention of the commander whose steel hat was just visible out of the top of the tank. He seemed not to notice and went straight ahead over the top of the wounded soldiers. It was very traumatic watching those men die.

"I dashed up to Lord Lovat and he asked me to play 'Road to the Isles' up and down the beach. There was no time to feel any real emotion. Normandy was a most upsetting campaign because there were so many casualties. It was a killing ground. Later, when we had fought our way off the beach and were heading inland, I was able to talk to French people. I will never forget a little French girl who came up to me. She had red hair and a white freckly face. She looked dirty and was barefooted. She was jumping around saying, 'Music, music.' I asked Lord Lovat for his permission to play a tune and he agreed. I played 'Nut Brown Maiden' for her."

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hAnam.

[ADDENDUM: Recommended: A lovely obit from The Economist.]

2 September -- St Brocard

Today is the feast of St Brocard, one of the co-founders of the Carmelite Order in the Latin Rite. He doesn't appear in the Carmelite calendar any more. You'll have to ask someone else why. Here's a bit of his life from the medieval second nocturn:

Brocard was born in Jerusalem; and fired with the desire of giving himself to God, he entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Here he grew so famous for his holiness that upon the death of Saint Berthold, the first Latin General, Brocard was raised to his places with the unanimous consent of the Brethren. Anxious to further regular observance, he asked Blessed Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, for a rule which should embrace every constitution of the Order in an abridged shape. It was wonderful to see how, under his government, the original Order grew in numbers and in excellence.

The Blessed Patriarch Albert, seeing his prudence and his holiness, sent him to Damascus to arrange a truce with Saladin, King of Syria and Egypt. Brocard, in carrying out this mission, gained all that he wished; and being gifted with great sagacity, he quickly brought matters to a settlement. The Viceroy of the Sultan was then suffering from leprosy and from a contraction of the hands. Brocard led him to the waters of the Jordan, and there baptized him, whereby he cleansed his body together with this soul. Having made him a loyal defender of the name of Christ, Brocard carried him to Carmel, where he took the habit, and lived without reproach, according to the Rule of the Order, until he passed hence to Christ. Famous for these remarkable works and others of a like kind, yet did not the holy man lack the glory of miracles, for he raised a youth to life and gained him for the Order.

When he entered into his agony, in the eightieth year of his age, he thus admonished the Brethren: "My sons, God, by His providence, has called us to the Order and number of hermits, and by His special favor we are named the Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Beware, lest you should falsely claim this title after my death. Be steadfast in good, abhor riches, despise the world, and model your lives rigidly after the example of Mary and Elias." Having spoken these words, he gave up the ghost.

The collect for his feast:

O Lord! sanctify Thy servants who humbly beseech Thee on the Feast of blessed Brocard, hermit of Mount Carmel and Thy Confessor: that, by his salutary patronage, our life may be everywhere guided through adversities. Through our Lord. Amen.

[The quotations are from Saints of Carmel, Proper Offices of the Saints Granted to the Barefooted Carmelites, Boston, (1896)