Friday Flotsam: Mostly Random

1. Something has intruded on my personal life, which I’m still learning to deal with. It’s knocked my attention (already unbalanced) for a real loop, so this’ll be kind of haphazard. It’s a personal matter, but just know that…well, I don’t know what things will be like going forward.

2. I saw Godzilla vs. Kong last weekend, and intended to write up something about it, but the aforementioned something has rather gotten in the way of sitting down to it.

The short, spoiler-free version is that I enjoyed it a lot. There are a lot of stupid bits and the human story, especially on Team Godzilla’s side, needed a lot of work, but the two stars were given full and wonderful scope and the fights were very satisfying. I’ll probably do a post detailing fuller, more spoiler-filled thoughts sometime in the future.

3. My own ‘ideal’ for the Monsterverse moving forward would actually be to end it here and take a break for a few years, then come back with a full-on MCU-style ‘verse’, with solo films for Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, and Ultraman before bringing them all together for a massive team up film. Save Ghidorah for the team-up, maybe start Godzilla on Biollante or Hedorah (whom I really would like to see done with modern special effects), Mothra on Battra, Gamera on Gyaos (who can always come back, since she’s a species more than an individual), and Ultraman on Bemular/The One (saving the Baltan for later).

Either that or, even more ideally, a Spectacular Spider-Man / Batman: The Animated Series animated show to serve as a kind of synthesis of the entire mythos (e.g. having the Red Bamboo as the arc villains of the first season and building up to King Ghidorah, etc.). Never going to happen unless / until my schemes of world domination take off, but I can dream.

4. Coming down from writing about the Snyderverse. Something that i noticed in looking back over the films (via clips, etc) was how unimaginative and blunt Superman is with his powers. I mentioned this in the rundown, but it irks me a lot. The writers seem to have no notion of either having any kind of fun with his abilities or even just using them in a half-way restrained and sensible manner. It’s like the only things he can think to do are “hit things really hard” or “laser them into oblivion.” No squeezing gun barrels shut or finger-flicking people to the ground for this Superman: gotta just smash everything.

By the way, the many creative ways that Superman uses his different powers is another source of the immense amount of fun you can get out of him. Like, in the animated series there’s a bit where he shaves by reflecting his heat-vision off of a mirror. Or in Lois & Clark, where Clark lies there absentmindedly juggling a basketball with nothing but his breath before sending it into a trashcan in the same way. Superman’s supposed to be a pure fantasy figure in many ways: a ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’ character. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just fly to China to get authentic Chinese takeout? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could type 5000 words a minute? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could refurbish your whole apartment in about five minutes?

Come to think of it, this is a major reason why I liked Godzilla vs. Kong so much: it’s fun. Not just ‘so stupid it’s enjoyable’, but it actually tries hard to give the audience a good time, to adopt that ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’ mentality. “Wouldn’t it be cool if Kong had a giant ax? Wouldn’t it be cool if Godzilla just sliced right through a battleship? Wouldn’t it be cool if they duked it out on an aircraft carrier?”

I’m reminded of a line from the extremely profane and kind of unpleasant, but oft-amusing video-game critic/comedian Yahtzee: “Remember fun? That thing video games were supposed to be before they became an ‘experience’?” That comes to my mind a lot these days.

5. As a post-Lenten treat, I recently re-listened to my audiobook version of Emma. You know, one of the things I love about Jane Austen is just how comfortable she is: that 18th-19th century England sense of being a well-established, ordered society where, if you keep out of trouble, nothing too terrible can be expected to happen: no invading armies, no desperate criminals, no prospect of total societal collapse; a society that can be counted on to be there and to function the way it’s supposed to.

I have often wished heartily that I could retire to an English country village about the late 18th, early 19th century, just for the quiet and the retirement. I’m the kind of person who really doesn’t want much happening around him. Quiet, secluded country living: that’s my goal.

Friday Flotsam – Mostly on Superman

1. Been adjusting lately to various life developments (yeah, I’m gonna go with that), which means I haven’t quite worked out how to fit blogging into the picture. I intend to blog more regularly going forward, but so far I haven’t worked out how.

2. Working on a post summarizing how I think Zack Synder butchered Superman and Batman. There’s a lot there, but I’m realizing that, if I want to be entirely fair, I should probably revisit the DCEU. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of the Snyder films (mostly because I hated them), and in that time I’ve become a much more fervent and informed Superman fan. Watching clips now I keep thinking “that’s wrong. That’s stupid. Man, they really didn’t care there, did they?” So at some point in the future I may do a DCEU rundown as a companion to my Marvel rundown (though, as the DCEU has no real ending nor any plans for one, I’ll probably cut myself off at some point. Maybe with the *shudder* Snyder cut…).

3. Speaking of which, I also need to revisit the Christopher Reeves films. I saw them long, long ago and remember not really liking them that much, despite Mr. Reeves’ definitive performance. Mostly it was because I didn’t at all like some of the story choices (e.g. the turning back time in the first film, the de-powering subplot in the second, etc.). But perhaps they’ll play better now.

4. Honestly, one of my favorite iterations so far is Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman from the mid nineties. Despite the lackluster special effects, reduced Superman powerlevel, and the oft-cheesy scripts I think Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher are among the best incarnations of Clark and Lois, especially Mr. Cain, who makes Clark perfectly the ‘normal, decent guy’ he’s supposed to be. Like, I love the detail that his fridge is full of junk food since, while he doesn’t need to eat, he likes it and so goes for whatever tastes the best because why not? That’s the kind of development onto Superman’s character that I like: thinking through the logical implications of his powers and asking how a guy like Clark would respond. Or the way he regularly calls home to his parents to discuss how his life is going. And I like the Kents’ charmingly casual approach to his powers (when Clark’s a little dubious about the cape his mother insists “It’ll look great when you’re flying”). Or, one of my favorite touches, Clark gets his job at the Planet by interviewing an old actress as she says goodbye to a theater being torn down. That’s the kind of guy he needs to be; sympathetic, open, and showing interest in and value for everyone he meets.

Miss Hatcher’s Lois is on point as well, with that delightful blend of sarcasm, self-assurance, and vulnerability that makes the character. She and Mr. Cain have fantastic chemistry and really come across as honest-to-goodness friends in spite of their chop-busting antics.

5. See, here’s what I think most people get wrong: when making a Superman adaptation, the most important thing is to get Clark Kent right. Because if you do Clark right, Superman will follow. But if you focus on Superman, you’re liable to miss the whole point. You see, Clark Kent is the real character. Even if you have Superman in costume most of the time, you have to remember that Clark is the true identity. Fundamentally, whatever crazy stuff you’re having him do, carrying a satellite into orbit or fighting psychic vigilantes on the Moon, you have to keep in mind that it’s the kid from Kansas who is doing all this (as Lois says in Superman vs. the Elite: “You can take the kid out of the cornfield…”).

4. I think another problem filmmakers run into when adapting Superman (and similar properties) is simply that they overthink things. See, I suspect that a lot of filmmakers will approach a major cultural touchstone like that and think “Since this is such a big, important property, there must be some real depth to it. It must be full of hidden meaning and subtle complexities, and if I’m going to really do this right, I have to be just as deep and complex. I have to really make this an event!”

What they’re missing is that it is precisely the simplicity of the story, the straightforward, unapologetic nature of it that gives it it’s power. The fundamental Superman story is “man has the power to save the day in every circumstance, but never takes the credit for it so the woman he loves has no idea what he does.” You can sum it up in a sentence (I just did), but there are almost an infinitude of things you can do with it.

Now, you can do things with Superman beyond that simple formula, but the point is that the Superman idea is a pretty straightforward one. The more you try to make it ‘deep’ and complex, the more you add to it, the more specificity you give it, the more likely you’re going to lose the thing that made it interesting in the first place.

To put it more simply, I remember someone saying that if you want to make a good Superman movie, just take the airplane sequence from Superman Returns and do that for ninety minutes. Which is pretty accurate.

Greatness in storytelling is not a matter of complexity, ambiguity, believability, relatability, or anything of the kind. It is a matter of a unique idea perfectly realized.

Friday Flotsam – Psych Issues and I Get a Review!

1. First and foremost, my appalling ego requires me to advise you all to hop over to A Song of Joy for a review of my first published book: The Wisdom of Walt Disney. It’s also the first review of that book that I’ve received. To say more would be unpardonably self-aggrandizing.

2. In celebration of this fact, I offer the accompanying video tribute to Mr. Disney that I made to go along with an updated release of the book a few years back. All the films shown in the video are discussed in the book.

3. As I’ve noted before, I suffer from what I’ve been calling ‘Depression’. Now, the thing to keep in mind is that psychological issues are different from diseases. In a typical disease (at least, most of them) you have an objective constant in the form of the micro-organism that is causing it: the Smallpox virus or the pneumonia bacteria are species of organism that have certain characteristics and behave a certain way. But psychological issues don’t really have this; the brain begins acting in a particular way which may or may not stem from one of several causes and which may or may not follow the pattern of other brains under similar circumstances. In any case, when it comes to the brain, we only have the symptoms: there is no ‘depression virus’ where we can say ‘Ah, there’s the constant!’ In other words, as far as we know (at least from what I understand), a bodily illness is a substance – an objective thing – while a mental illness is an accident – a pattern.

Yes, I know that we have brain chemistry, but the thing is that 1. there’s a chicken-and-egg problem with that: do the chemicals cause the thoughts or the thoughts release the chemicals? The fact that we can direct our thoughts and recognize them as rational or irrational suggests the latter, at least in part. 2. Neurochemistry is such a new field that I wouldn’t hazard anything upon it that isn’t backed up by more established knowledge (brain scans have gotten results from dead salmon, so something’s not quite right there) and 3. Whether we call the symptoms thoughts or brain chemicals doesn’t really change the question: it’s still something that is happening in or being done by the brain, not, as far as we know, an objective entity that is reacting with it.

Which means that there is no real limit to the form of the pattern. The Bubonic Plague always acts within a certain range of behaviors because the Plague is only a particular bacteria. But theoretically there could be as many mental illnesses as there are potential unwanted connections in the brain.

4. Anyway, long story short, after being frustrated by various different approaches for recovery I’m working on developing my own. My particular issues seem to be an odd cocktail of depression, anxiety, a dash of OCD, and maybe a few other things (not that these ‘official’ diseases aren’t often found together), all tumbled together with a base character that’s fairly out-of-the-ordinary to begin with. So I’m trying to draw whatever seems useful from a bunch of different approaches designed to combat these various constituent issues and work out something tailor-made to my own situation.

Just starting off, in the ‘gathering info’ stage, but so far there have been some interesting results. At the moment I’m working through ‘Brain Lock’ by Jeffry M. Schwartz, which details a self-directed therapy for combating OCD. I’d definitely recommend it, even if you don’t think you have OCD, since I believe the approach could easily be modified to other issues: it’s simple, but makes sense and the methods advised have a solid pedigree, such as the insight that behavior changes thought, so that the key to change is to act contrary to inclinations: a fact embodied in the practice of ritual and objective moral law. Seeking to alter unwanted thoughts by recognizing their irrationality, dwelling upon the truth and acting accordingly is essentially just “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

In short, your feelings are secondary: your actions and your beliefs are primary.

I tend to trust insights and advice that A). recur across multiple different books from different authors dealing with different problems – the ‘action reinforces thought and thought directs action and both trump feelings’ insight keeps coming back again and again – and B). harmonize with traditional philosophical and religious thought: that is, with the ideas of the people who actually built functioning societies rather than the people who parasite off of them.

I’ll probably share more of this as time goes on.

Friday Flotsam: The Feast of St. Joseph

1. A blessed Feast of St. Joseph to you all! May the foster father of Our Lord Jesus intercede on behalf of everyone who reads this and for the Church and our nation as a whole.

2. A thought occurred to me this morning, listening to a sermon on St. Joseph (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OXUfeFFjXg). The priest points out that the Holy Family was the seed of the Church, the Church in miniature. That made me wonder: do we have an image of the two swords in Mary and Joseph?

Probably need to explain that. The two swords come from Luke 22:38: “But they said: ‘Lord, behold here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.'” Traditionally, this has been understood, especially in the Medieval period, as referring to the spiritual and temporal elements in the Church: the spiritual sword of the clergy and the temporal sword of the laity, embodied in the monarchy. One exists to defend against error and sin, the other against persecution, injustice, and invasion.

See, our idea of separation of Church and State would have made no sense at all to the Medievals for the simple reason that the King is himself part of the Church, being one of the lay faithful. We today (rather ironically given the stated goals of the 20th century reforms) tend to think of ‘the Church’ primarily as the clergy and religious, with the laity as a kind of external attachment. The Medievals would have thought of ‘the Church’ as comprising the whole of society, with only Jews, infidels, heretics, etc. being outside of it (and thus outside of society: essentially foreigners). The clergy had their particular duties, which were recognized as being the higher and more excellent ones of administering the Sacraments and defending against error, but the laity had their duties as well, including supporting and guarding the clergy and managing society; the ‘day-to-day’ affairs.

In fact, analogously very similar to the duties of a husband and wife: the husband’s duties being to support the family materially, to guard it, to set family policy and deal with the outside world, and to provide instruction and discipline. The mother’s duty being to keep the domestic, interior side in order, to be the chief nurturer, educator, and caregiver to the children, and to advise and assist the husband in his duties.

Focusing closer in on that very unique family, it was Mary who brought for Christ into the world, just a the clergy administers the Sacraments. Joseph’s duty was to guard her and the child and to care for them, while at the same time being their head and guide: it was he who received the messages to flee into Egypt and then to return, and he who made the judgment call to avoid Jerusalem and settle in Nazareth. Like how the lay rulers are the ones who set the general policy of their kingdoms, ideally for the good of those in their care, including the clergy.

3. The idea in all of this, you see, is that the Earthly is not simply overridden by or separate from the Spiritual: the two are part of the same whole, just as the soul and the body of a man are part of the same whole. This, it seems to me, is one of if not the core ideas of Christianity. We believe in the resurrection of the body, which is to say that the body – the earthly, material, created element of reality – will form an essential part of our eternal life. The flesh by itself availeth nothing, but the flesh enlivened by the spirit is made a vehicle for grace.

This pattern repeats itself over and over: the laity and the clergy, the grace-giving nature of the Sacraments, the two swords, the Incarnation itself. Even beyond the doctrines of the Christian worldview, we experience it in our own lives: just the simple act of reading or speaking repeats the pattern. For the letters or sounds themselves are material things, but they convey ideas, which are immaterial.

This, I believe, is one of the most important philosophical ideas to get down: human beings crave the transcendent, but we only experience the concrete. Therefore, the transcendent must come to us in concrete form. It must become incarnate as it were for us to experience it. This elevates and ennobles the material thing itself as it becomes an essential part of the transcendent thing that it is conveying.

4. Kind of drifted into deep waters there. The point of all this is that it seems to me that pattern of the Church as it was understood for most of its history and in its most vibrant ages fits the pattern of the Holy Family. The image of the two swords, and indeed of the clergy and laity in general shows itself in the image of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Christ. Christ Himself, of course, is the central figure in both arrangements, the reason both exist.

It is always encouraging – and slightly eerie – when the patterns found in doctrine and philosophy repeat themselves across seemingly disparate aspects of reality.

https://serpentsden.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/7fc8f-iu.jpg

St. Joseph, most chaste guardian of the Virgin, foster father of Our Lord Jesus, pray for us.

Friday Flotsam: Consequences

1. We really need to stop using the language of the other side. Among other things, I really hate when people use the term ‘divisive’ or list ‘being divided’ as one of the major problems we currently face. See, that implies that the dispute is the problem, not the content of one side or the other’s position. And if the dispute is the problem, the obvious solution is to just stop arguing, with the implication that, if you want to be the bigger man, to do your part for reconciliation, you ought to give in and compromise.

Condemning division as such is not a call for unity; it’s a call to surrender.

On that subject, don’t call for ‘unity’ unless you are willing to specify what people should unite around. Otherwise, again, you are not calling for unity but surrender.

2. Contemporary ‘progressives’ make me think of a jealous stalker: “No, this isn’t right! You’re supposed to love me!”

3. Listening to some stuff on the demographic nightmare of our present age, how most of Europe is going to be majority non-European before much longer, etc. The odd thing is, everyone notices this, but few people seem to point out that this is a direct and very predictable consequence of the advent of contraception and the shift in sexual mores. If you set up your society to allow for consequence-free sexual encounters – that is, encounters that do not either result in children or demand commitments from either side – then of course many, many people will delay or outright avoid having and raising children. Like if you make fraud consequence free, many if not most people will commit it, because most people prefer the easiest possible route that still gets them what they want. So, of course, the population will slowly decline, especially relative to populations that do *not* practice these things.

The striking thing I notice more and more is that the consequences of sin are actually built into the nature of human beings. Even in just the most simple, brute facts. Contraception leads to, well, the deterioration and death of your family line, nation, and culture. Fornication, divorce, etc. leads to weakened families with the resultant psychological trauma and unmet emotional needs of the next generation. The problem is that they aren’t usually immediate consequences; they take generations to fully manifest (so, abusing the act that leads to new generations requires generations to show its full effects. Who could have predicted that one?).

The interesting consequence is a paradox; one person using contraception or fornicating isn’t really going to affect society as a whole, and it might not even seriously affect him. However, if society condones that act, then it ensures that many people will be doing so, meaning that it will suffer those consequences.

By the way, I’m not saying the consequences make the act sinful, I’m saying they are a sign of its sinfulness. The key question is not ‘who is harmed by this?’ but ‘what would happen if this became normal, accepted behavior?’ Or, to put it another way, “by their fruits shall you know them.”

To move off of sex, Catwoman stealing gems from some spoiled society dame doesn’t really hurt anyone, all things being equal. But even Catwoman doesn’t want to live in a world where thieves can break into anyone’s house and take what they like. If that were so, she couldn’t even enjoy her own thefts because she would know that anyone might waltz in and take them from her in turn.

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nydailynews.com%2Fresizer%2FJkaFXOyBrk19foGg9_sAaYWjzS4%3D%2F1400x0%2Farc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-tronc.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2FWNAULRSNI3GYAQSYRPLSMYBUTU.jpg&f=1&nofb=1
Enough about sex: let’s talk about Catwoman

Another way to put this is ‘what would happen if this became the norm so that you and yours would be on the receiving end as much as anyone else’? Or, more succinctly, “Do as you would be done by.”

Hence why it’s necessary to enforce the moral principle and not simply to try to avoid ‘bad consequences’. Because the bad consequences often don’t fully manifest until after you’ve abandoned the moral principle.

Which, come to think of it, is also true in the individual moral life: striving for righteousness, even imperfectly, ensures forgiveness and protection from many of the worst consequences of the sins we do commit. Crying “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner,” leads to justification. Refusing to admit that what we do is even a sin or claiming “I am perfect just the way I am” leads to further corruption.

Acknowledging the truth and striving, however imperfectly, for righteousness is always the first thing. Abandon that for whatever reason and you invite disaster and damnation.

4. In summary, whenever one generation asks “what could it hurt?” the next one usually finds itself saying “Oh. That.”

Friday Flotsam: Collective Authority

1. The modern world feels like being walled up in an asylum that’s been taken over by the inmates. Except the inmates are not just insane, but smug, sanctimonious, and completely disconnected from reality.

2. Collective ownership cannot work as a system for multiple reasons, but chiefly because someone has to enforce the collective ownership, to arbitrate between competing claims. If Brother John and Brother Francis both want to use a certain part of the abbey’s garden, then it falls to Abbott Tuck to decide who has the better claim. But this means that it is Abbott Tuck who, in practical terms, owns the garden, since he is the one who exercises decision making authority over it, which is what ownership means.

Ownership by all only every means – only ever can mean – that one owns in the name of all.

3. Ownership means authority – the ability to make decisions relative to a particular object which others are morally obliged to respect. If I own a computer, that means I have the right to decide what software I’ll put on it and what use I’ll put it to. If I use a computer owned by someone else – say, my employer – then I not have the right to exercise decisions of what software will and will not be installed on it or what use it will be put to, except by permission of the rightful owner.

‘Ownership’ only means a form of transferable authority. I can sell or give away my computer. But if I exercise other forms of authority, as, say, a father, I can’t sell or give away my children (I haven’t worked it out completely, but as of right now I think that is the chief distinguishing feature of ‘ownership’ as opposed to other forms of authority).

Equal authority means no authority: if two parties exercise equal decision making powers over any one thing, that means that each can make decisions regarding that thing which the other is obligated to respect. Which means that each can cancel out the other’s decisions at any time. Meaning, effectively, neither has any rights relative to the other with regards to this particular thing. If it becomes necessary to make an actual decision, then either one or the other’s authority must be recognized as higher or one with a higher authority than either must settle it.

4. I think most us recognize this regarding ownership of property. The question is, why do we think ownership of the government is any different?

One of the liberal mantras is “the government doesn’t own the people, the people own the government.” Okay, but at the same time we know collective ownership does not work. So, the government is actually owned by whoever is in charge of arbitrating the people’s decisions. Which is to say…the government. But a government that still claims to represent ‘the people’ (which is even more ridiculous when you remember that, by its nature, a representational government can only represent a portion of the people, since if it’s elected, that means a significant portion of the people voted against it) and so to be acting in their name.

This pretext of a state being the expression of the people’s will means that anyone who opposes it opposes ‘the people.’ A government with pretensions of being ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ will hold that anyone who opposes that is against the people (and how does this square with the fact that, when this was said, a large chunk of the people were actively fighting to escape the said government? Do they simply not count as being among ‘the people’? I’m actually a Union partisan, but I bring it up to illustrate how ridiculous the whole ‘rule by the people’ idea really is).

Again, collective ownership means that some own as if there were all. And “power to the people” only ever means “Power to some people as if they were all the people.”

Or in other words:

Friday Flotsam: Don’t Like ‘Like, Comment, and Subscribe’

1. More and more it seems to me that where modern psychology is correct, it ends up being a complicated way of saying the same thing that Old Wives and monks have said for time immemorial. This week I watched a couple videos on dopamine, its affect on brain, and the means to counteract it, and all I could think was “so, deliberately moderating our pleasures and periodic fasting.”

2. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos recently. Or let me clarify: I’ve been watching videos from a lot of new-to-me channels and topics recently. Mostly involving finances, bookkeeping, budgeting, DIY, and pop-psychology. Thus far, my impression is that everyone seems to be copying everyone else: jump cuts, multiple takes spliced together to form one long-ish take, pretending to lose your train of thought in the middle of a sentence, “be sure to like, comment, and subscribe / smash that like button” (everybody smashes that like button), “what’s up guys?” (seriously, everyone uses this introduction), “studies have shown…” etc. There’s definitely a remarkably consistent style across a surprisingly broad spectrum of videos.

It may be just me, but I don’t like being asked to subscribe to YouTube videos, or to like or comment.

3. I seem to have lucked out without realizing it. See, I’m a creature of habit to a possibly-pathological level, so when I find content I like, I tend to simply stick to it until I start to get tired of it. So, the few YouTube channels I actually follow, I tend to just stick with rather than venturing out into the wild to search for more. This is partly because of my aforementioned sedentary approach to these things, but also because I think if I do venture out there, about 99% of what I find will be junk. Maybe entertaining junk, but junk.

The few YouTube channels I do follow all buck this trend, and indeed usually make fun of it. Ross of Accursed Farms did a whole video commenting on how strange it feels to him to be asking for money to make funny videos about weird games and laying down promises of what he’d be doing with it and who should and shouldn’t donate. Mauler likewise only brought up the subscription question in distinct sections are the tail-end of his videos, and then was very transparent about what people would be buying (though he’s been a little disappointing lately as his reviews have slowed to an absolute trickle, to the point where I think I’d be feeling annoyed if I had backed him, but that’s another story. Then again I’m averaging about two videos a year right now, so maybe I shouldn’t be throwing stones…).

I don’t remember Razorfist ever asking for money or subscriptions either (though I’ve heard him tossing some typically-colorful invective against creators who do from time to time), and when he expanded onto a subscription site he explained it was just a way to maintain independence: a subscription site can at least maintain itself in existence if YouTube tightens the noose. David Stewart does invoke the ‘like, comment, and subscribe’, though he saves it to the end and honestly is so low-key about it that I forgot he even does it until I double-checked.

I’ve watched videos where a big ‘SUBSCRIBE’ animation pops up about every thirty seconds or so (not exagerrating). Or where the host just stops the video two or three times to ask for subscriptions.

I know that people have to try to work the algorithm and all, especially if they’re trying to make money, but I have to think there’s a better way. Actually, I know there’s a better way: let the content speak for itself and only bring up money and subscriptions when you have to.

If I ever expand my video production (which I hope to do in future), I hereby vow I will never play the ‘like, comment, subscribe’ game.

(And while I’m talking about channels I like, definitely check out Modern History TV, where a modern knight – OBE – delves into the practical side of Medieval life, especially of Medieval knights. He also doesn’t do the ‘like, comment, subscribe’. Though to be fair, something tells me he isn’t in it for the money).

Friday Flotsam: Slack Tide

1. As I think I’ve mentioned before now, I don’t currently belong to a parish, mostly because my living situation is not one that I want to ascribe any kind of permanency to. However, I have been attending one particular parish as a rule for some time now, mostly because they kept offering the Sacraments throughout the Imposition through a combination of parking-lot Masses / Confessions and just having a lot of space for people to filter out (that and they are not fussy about masks). They’re what I would call a ‘faithful Novus Ordo’ parish: they engage in the usual post-conciliar nonsense (Communion in the hand, children’s masses, etc.), but they at least attempt to center their worship and their preaching on Christ. In short, they strike me as sincerely trying, so it goes down a little easier than it might.

This week on Tuesday, they actually offered a Latin Mass for what I think is the first time. I of course made a point of going (that’s ‘of course’ because I want them to keep doing it, not ‘of course because I’m so bloody wonderful it’s only what you’d expect of me’) and intend to make it a regular thing if they continue it. Attending the Latin Mass after months of Novus Ordo is unspeakably refreshing. But the real surprise came on Ash Wednesday Mass. It was a Novus Ordo of course, but about halfway through I realized that the priest was celebrating it ‘ad oriens’ (facing the tabernacle for those who don’t know).

I think something is happening at that parish. We’ll have to wait and see how it all goes, but I took that as an encouraging sign. Perhaps the slack tide has begun.

2. ‘Slack Tide’, for those who don’t know, is when the tide has stopped advancing one way or the other before beginning to turn. Basically it means that everything still looks the same, but the underlying mechanics have already begun to reverse. So, historically speaking, early 1942 was ‘Slack Tide’ for the Axis powers: Germany was making rapid advancements in Africa and the Soviet Union, most of the Soviet Army had been trapped and destroyed, Rommel was closing in on the Suez Canal, and in the Pacific the Japanese were nearing the point of establishing bases within range of Hawaii and the West Coast.

Only, the underlying mechanics had already changed: they weren’t fighting the swaying, overspread British Empire alone anymore, they were facing the world’s largest nation, the world’s largest Empire, and the world’s largest economy. The Soviets were relocating their industry beyond the Urals where the Germans could never hope to touch it, neither Germany nor Japan had the capacity to strike any part of the American homeland, let alone its industrial base in the Midwest (not to mention that the US was functionally invincible as far as an invasion was concerned), and Britain alone was outproducing Germany in military material. Basically, if you could have looked at the actual facts of the situation, you could have seen that, contrary to all appearances, those facts were almost all against the Axis.

I sometimes have a sense that we are in such a period of Slack Tide both regarding the Church and the secular society. I obviously can’t say for sure (I don’t follow current events nearly closely enough to even approximate certainty), but that’s the overall impression I get. I think that what seem to be the obvious trends around us don’t actually represent what is going on ‘under the surface’, and that the next, say, ten or twenty years will be very different from what most of us expect at the moment.

That’s as far as I’ll go in terms of prediction.

3. Rather than trying for a third topic, I think I’ll just throw a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan at you

Friday Flotsam: The Possibility of a New Constantine and the Chance to Buy Me a Drink

1. First let’s talk coffee

You may notice the new tip-jar in the right-hand menu or the footer. If you’ve been making the rounds of our little corner of the internet, you’ve probably heard of Ko-fi by now. Simply put, it’s a service where if you like what you see here and want to show your appreciation in a substantial way, you can click the button and tip me a fixed sum of $3. Or about the price of a cup of coffee. I like my coffee (actually used to work in a coffee place), and $3 is strictly in the ‘token of appreciation’ rather than ‘greedy scammer’ range, so it’s a pretty good system.

You can learn more about how Ko-fi works by going here Naturally only drop some coin if you feel it’s worth it to you, and rest assured that it will be appreciated.

2. Here’s a thought that came to mind the other day: is anyone praying for the conversion of Zuckerberg, Gates, Musk, and the other tech giants?

Because here’s the thing: if we were going to have a Constantine moment in this country, it isn’t going to come from the political world. Politicians, frankly, have only a minor impact on the culture or society (thank God). Besides which, the structure of our system is such that only about half the country at best actually supports the leader, while the rest would regard whatever his position might be as the opposite of what they should take.

But the tech dictators, now that’s another story. They actually have power and influence (as we are being daily reminded). If one of them had a conversion experience, that would shake things up.

Sure, it seems impossible, but that’s only what we should expect, isn’t it? Though honestly, it strikes me as more possible than the conversion of, say, the Criminal Biden or one of the other major political figures of our time. I don’t think they’re even capable of real conviction: they’re soulless pits hungering after money and power, morphing into whatever they need to be to satisfy those who can provide them these things. As Prof. Von Hildebrand said of Hitler, they’re so stupid they don’t know what ‘God’ means.

But the Zuckerbergs and the Gates and so on of the world, I think they are capable of that. They seem to me to be at least more real, closer to actual, functional human beings then the likes of, say, the Clintons. They have some substance to them, even if it’s confused, misguided, or corrupted.

Likely? Obviously not. But God doesn’t deal in likelihoods. So, my suggestion would be to start offering up prayers for the conversion of the tech giants.

3. I’ve often thought we need an apostolate to the rich: people who are dedicated to reaching out to and ministering to the wealthy and influential. First and foremost, of course, because their souls are no less valuable than anyone else’s and are liable to be in much greater danger. But also because their power and influence largely determines what kind of society we have, and whether it is easier or more difficult for the Church to do its work.

If someone out there has a sense of mission, but doesn’t know what to do about it, this might be something to think about. Minister to the most neglected of souls: the rich and powerful.

Just imagine what could happen if even some of these elites genuinely turned to Christ.