An Open Thread while I get my act together

The kids are almost back at school.  It’s been a delightful winter break — sleeping-in in the morning, playing old-fashioned board games in the evening — but I am exhausted and my house is looking frayed around the edges.  I crave normalcy.

Normalcy also needs my attention.  I finally dealt with folding the mountains of clean laundry (phew!), but now I have bills to pay.  Since I am not the federal government, I don’t get to keep telling my creditors I’ll pay in the future when I’ve increased my overdraft (an increase I can do without anyone’s permission).  Instead, I pay or the sue.  It’s a pretty simple system and one that works well.  The only problem for me now is just the paperwork, which is doubled since I take care of my Mom’s finances too.  Thank goodness for Quicken!

Until I have a moment of quiet, this is an Open Thread.  Enjoy yourself!

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  • Danny Lemieux

    Just took down our Christmas decorations and outdoor lights. Now, its the bleak midwinter for us until the first signs of spring appear at the end of February, when the sun begins to feel warm and the ducks, swans, geese and cranes return. Quiet normalcy.

  • JKB

    I’ve been thinking about an old interview of a Kenyan economics expert recently posted about at Carpe Diem.  The bottom line is the economist begs the West to stop sending Aid.  Food aid kills the farm economy.  Other aid makes it hard for the poor to build businesses.  One thing Aid does do is support the kleptocrats in government.  Plus, it makes the “enlightened” givers fell all superior inside.  
    Well, here is a discussion of that interview, along with talk about the new trend.  Ironically, it is China that is bringing free enterprise to Africa in the form of foreign investment rather than foreign aid.
    Without offering foreign aid Chinese businesses have done more for Africa’s economic development than the armies of celebrities and billionaires who are whining about how much we owe the Africans.

  • Spartacus

    “Shall we? That is, shall we go on conferring our Civilization upon the peoples that sit in darkness, or shall we give those poor things a rest?”  — Mark Twain
    It’s been an interesting question for a long time now.

  • JKB

    When I verified the Stuart Schneiderman link above, I stayed to catch up on his latest.
    He has a post discussing Theodore Dalrymple’s post a few years ago on culture.  
    In that post Schneiderman cite the importance of ritual and ceremony in community.  Giving people a place and confirming their place in the whole.  He used the family, nightly dinner as an example.  It also reminded me of a friend, who a lifelong Beltway brat, i.e., born and raised in Suburban Maryland, who had to go through Catholic catechism before her marriage.  She was, at least for the time, quite taken by the ritual and ceremony.  I remember thinking at the time, how something similar to religion practice could be useful to help ground all those post-modern Progressives that were raised with nothing more than protest as their ritual and community.
    This put me to mind of what ritual and ceremony could be developed to build common social norms for those of us not-Progressives (I don’t want to say Right, I’m about done with The Right).  
    I can see maybe some routine community trips to the firing range.  Perhaps some get together that is light on political rhetoric and heavy on socializing.  Maybe a book club that reads Western Civ.  Something that meets routinely and can easily accommodate new people who become interested and then find community?
    Anybody got any ideas?  

  • Gringo

    JKB: two observations on ritual and ceremony. An aunt and uncle of mine ran a funeral home for some 20 years. My uncle said that funerals helped in the grieving process. Granted, he may have had a professional interest in saying so. Having been through memorial services for my parents and various relatives- decades after my aunt and uncle sold the funeral home- I would concur. The memorial services constituted a gathering of the tribes, of people who had the deceased in common, who shared stories about the deceased. The memorial services helped in the farewell.
    I once attended a Christmas Eve mass in Guatemala with some friends. While there are many Catholic churches in Latin America in a baroque style, this church  was relatively new and plain- more Protestant than Catholic in its decoration. However, the ceremony had its roots in 2000 years of the Roman Catholic Church.  I felt uplifted after the mass- nothing intellectual, pure emotion. I thought to myself, the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t last for 2000 years without learning how to put on a ceremony. [I suspect that had I not known Spanish, or if the mass had been in Latin, which would have been the case before Vatican II, my reaction would have been somewhat similar.]
    There hasn’t been a Catholic in my family tree for over 400 years, as far as I can tell, and neither I nor my parents were churchgoers, so my reaction is one of an outsider.

  • lee

    On a different topic:
    Regarding the Hollywood crowd and their “demand a plan”: I got a plan. For every film that receives an R rating for violence, assess a tax or fee, both on gross receipts, and on each person earning in excess of $1MM on the film. Let’s say 5% of their gross earnings. And use this for helping victims of violence, treatment of violent mentally ill, etc.
    Let’s see how Hollywood likes THAT plan!