May 20th, 2008


Random STUFF

I'm gonna throw it at the wall and see what sticks.


From The Elegant Variation: Book Launch 2.0.

From Arts & Letters Daily: eSkeptic: Gimme that Old-Time Irreligion
It is well known, of course, that some our most eminent presidents—Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison—spurned orthodoxy in religious matters, even to the point of—to use Paulos's convenient title—irreligion. This, of course, is sufficiently embarrassing to our fundamentalist ayatollahs that they have been furiously rewriting history, chiseling away at the facts with all the fury of the restored priests of Amun hacking off Nefertiti's heretical nose. What interested me more, however, was the question of whether disdain for religion was purely the province of politicians who where gifted intellectuals as well, or whether it was at one point so widespread and socially acceptable that even routine mediocrities, hacks, and tub-thumpers could espouse such views without being banished from public life and high office.

So I picked me a president—the most unmemorable I could find (Millard Fillmore is too memorable for being unmemorable)—and took a peek at what is known or surmised about his religious convictions. Chester Alan Arthur fit the bill admirably. According to
The Religious Views of our Presidents, by Franklin Steiner, Arthur finds his place in the list under the heading "Presidents whose religious views were doubtful."

-The Gneech
  • Current Mood
    working working
  • Tags
Drezzer cool

This Other Eden, etc.

Well, it's a pretty sure bet that laurie_robey and I won't have gone to the U.K. this past March, considering that it's now May. ;) Although that conclusion was more or less foregone when we decided to bite the bullet and buy a house.

I still want to do it, tho; it doesn't look likely to happen before 2010 now, as we'll have to save up and do that whole "get a passport" thing still. And of course, there's the whole question of what we'd do once we got there. My initial plan was Portmericon, and I'd still like to get to that, but it's not so much for the event itself as it is for a framework to put it into.

I realize the irony of wanting to actually go to England on holiday, but there are lots of reasons I want to go there. The most obvious one is my ancestry … I've got Scots-Irish (hence the hair and eyes), I've got bits of German, bits of French, and depending on if you believe the rumors even a few wandering bits of Native American in there — but most of it is English, from somewhere in that northwest corner somewhere near Carlisle. It'd be nice to connect with my roots, as the saying goes.

There's also just the affinity I feel with British culture, as opposed to a lot of American culture. I read British books, I watch British television, I laugh at British humor; once in high school an underclassman was apparently under the impression that I actually was British, because I "seemed like it," whatever that meant.

The climate change is another factor; I recently found a webpage posted in 2001 by an American in England, and I was amused by the passage, "The British love to complain about their always mild weather." As anyone who has known me for a while can probably attest, I am famous for hating Virginia summers and longing for a place where long sleeves in June is a perfectly rational thing to expect without having to deal with 32" of snow starting in November. The closest thing we have to that in the U.S. is the Pacific Northwest, which is another place I am prone to going to when I have the opportunity. But there I miss what old-worldiness there is to find here — which presumably would not be the case in the U.K., by definition!

So anyway, I'm just rambling, I guess. Point is, "going to the U.K. someday" is still in my plans, even though it's been shoved back a bit due to buying a house.

-The Gneech