In this age of uncertainty, you need beliefs and practices but not dogmas and preaching

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Photo by André François McKenzie on Unsplash

“Let me tell you about COVID, the COVID vaccine, and Bitcoin.”

If any person starts telling me about those things, I write them off.

All three of those things are new and huge. As a result, they occupy a weird spot in the world of opinion: Everyone needs to have a stance on them and nobody’s stance is worth anything.

It’s difficult to reconcile such a paradox, but here’s one way: Take your stance, be prepared to shift it, and keep it to yourself.

Beliefs and practices, yes. Dogmas and preaching, no.

A wealthy client of mine recently asked a…

Bill Kauffman painted lots of their portraits in Look Homeward, America

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Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Strong, deep, readable, desperate, fun. All those adjectives — even those that trip over one another — fit this book.

It’s such a good book, it made me want to quit writing. “If someone like Kauffman, with his erudition and talent, isn’t a household name, what makes me think I can scratch together enough publishable words to cover my underwear budget?”

I’m not saying it’s the best book ever, not even the best book of the past 15 years. Indeed, when I went back through it for this piece, I almost put it back on the shelf: it simply doesn’t…

Noisiness tends to stem from an inability to look outside oneself, which is something both the unintelligent and the boors lack

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Photo by Ilyuza Mingazova on Unsplash

Schopenhauer said, “The higher one’s tolerance for noise, the lower one’s intellect.”

I’ve long said a similar thing: “The louder a person is, the less intelligent he is.”

These are merely general rules and I’ve known a few notable exceptions.

They’re also rules that are subject to one’s situation in life.

Young people, for instance, are louder than older people. They haven’t fallen down 10,000 times like older people, so they lack the wisdom and resignation of an older person and, therefore, have the undiluted joyful enthusiasm we all ought to have. They also have more energy and are healthier.

A snapshot of the southern literary tradition in the early 20th century

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Photo by Emily Corley on Unsplash

I think Bill Kauffman has more literary anecdotes than any man alive. If you like such things, I recommend Kauffman’s relatively-unknown Poetry Night at the Ball Park, which is out of print but you can get it inexpensively on Kindle.

I ran across this passage last night while recovering from a migraine and just flipping through my random notes:

Among my favorite interviewees was novelist and Civil War epicist Shelby Foote. I showed up at his stockbroker-Tudor home in Memphis about noon. Foote, long-haired, wearing ratty pajamas, answered the door and drawled, “Ah wuz jes’ fixin’ ta go ta thuh…

My pursuit of drunken perfection (humor)

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I’m thinking about becoming an alcoholic. Beer and wine are my favorites, so I’ll drink a lot of them. I don’t like hard liquor, but I’ll drink it if that what it takes to realize my ambition. Unlike some people out there who want things handed to them, I’m willing to work and am dedicated to achieving my goals.

I have little doubt that alcoholism is a good career move. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers can’t take adverse employment action against a reformed alcoholic based on his alcoholism. As a practical matter, this means any time an alcoholic…

Professor Michael Jordan’s Final Exam Letter to his Students

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Photo by Frances Gunn on Unsplash

Professor Michael Jordan saw last week’s post. He graciously provided me the original, full letter, with this note:

I taught a course on “The Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization” back in 1999, and while students were taking the final, I wrote this letter to them, a letter that summarized some of the basic themes of the course.

The full letter is below

While it is unlikely that you will take up the plow after you graduate, you can still be a good Agrarian. …

Exploring the fool in Christ and the fool in Antichrist.

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Photo by Austin Lowman on Unsplash

Ivan the Terrible

Czar Ivan IV was a psychologically unbalanced and cruel man: ambitious, unpredictable, frightening to be around.

In the sixteenth century, Ivan strove furiously to expand Russia’s borders, bring her into modern commerce, and unify her under the authority of the Czar.

He waged ceaseless and unjust wars against neighbors. He endorsed the aggressive merchant/Cossack conquest of sleeping Serbia. He instituted a ten-year reign of terror throughout his realm in an intense effort to crush opposition to his domestic policies. He mercilessly executed opponents, including their wives and children. He confiscated lands, forcing families to relocate to different countries.

His ferocity…

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Photo by Frances Gunn on Unsplash

I hung out with Michael Jordan outside Chicago about twenty years ago.

No, not basketball Michael Jordan. I’m talking about Michael Jordan, the English professor from Hillsdale College.

We met at a Touchstone conference at Mundelein Seminary. He saw my name tag and said he enjoyed my articles. Being a narcissist, I was smitten, and we talked a bit and took a few meals together. Because we only lived an hour apart, we kept in touch a bit and met for lunch once, but then drifted away into life.

I bumped into him a few months ago at a Hillsdale…

Reddit, GameStop, Stimulus, and Two Things to Do If You Want to Survive and Thrive in the Age of the Black Swan

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Photo by Yuvraj Yadav on Unsplash

Everything was obvious to Wall Street investors:

Brick-and-mortar businesses are failing. GameStop sells a product that is cheaper and better to buy online. GameStop is going to fail. Let’s short the crap out of its stock so we make a killing when GameStop files bankruptcy.

There were supposedly more short shares than actual shares.

Enter r/Wallstreetbets (queue Seven Nation Army), armed with a lot of free time and stimulus checks.

They decided they like GameStop . . . or wanted to stick it to the hedge fund managers . . . or wanted to make a ton of money by…

Johnny Cash’s 1961 “Tennessee Flat-Top Box”

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Photo by Frame Harirak on Unsplash

In 1961, Johnny Cash recorded Tennessee Flat-Top Box, an intoxicatingly-charming song about a dark-haired youngster who played guitar in a small Texas town cabriolet. He cared for nothing in life, except playing his guitar: “He couldn’t ride or wrangle, and he didn’t care to make a dime, but give him his guitar, and he’d be happy all the time.”

A guy like would be scorned for many reasons in our society. Jocks wouldn’t like his athletic inability. Career men wouldn’t like his refusal to get a job and make money. …

Eric Scheske

Writer, lawyer, husband, father of seven. Pursuits: studying, gardening, falling and getting up again. “Moderation in all things except love.”

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