The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary


Sicilian Trog

This is perhaps my sixth trip to Sicily.  I say “perhaps,” because I’m not very good about dates.  It’s not that my math skills are particularly deficient.  As a schoolboy, I always tested higher in math than in verbal skills.  It’s not even my almost complete lack of interest in mathematics, which has kept me blissfully ignorant of most higher math.  My real deficiency is something I regard as a virtue: an instinctive refusal to apply numbers to the phenomena of human life.  Aristotle did not make the mistake that has been made, over and over, by philosophers since Descartes...


Born Out of Due Time, Chapter 14, Part Two

Smith did not mention Caruana’s investigation of possible Hamas operatives coming in from the Twins.  The Rosses looked upset, and Caterina had lost her smile.  They sat for a minute or so in silence, and Ross got up to pour more madeira.  The phone rang, and Mrs. Ross took it in the study.  They could hear her exchanging pleasantries with Ashley Borowski.  Her tone changed quickly. “Good lord, where did you see this?  On VoxPop News? You actually watch that?  I’m turning on the television right now.  We’ll get back to you.” Anterus and the others came in from the...


Born Out of Due Time, Chapter 14 Part One

I’m not entirely sure.  Here is what I do know.  I have strange intuitions.  Maybe it comes from my Scottish ancestors.  I only recall a few things I heard as a boy, but one of them is said to have had a vision that the chiefs of his clan would come to an end, when a black swan came to join their famous flock of swans.


Sicilian Trogs, Preface: Conclusion. Arrivederci, Roma

We had decided to stay in a little hotel in the center, the place in which we had spent a week during our first trip to Italy, 30 years ago.  I had been foolishly attracted to the Alberto Cesàri, when I discovered that Stendahl had passed a good part of his sojourn in Rome in this very place.  It was and is an unpretentious place, though about five years ago they added a rooftop bar and breakfast room.  In 1988 most of the guests were tourists like us, but this time we were the only Americans, except for a Fox...


Not Christmas Yet by David Wihowski

Not Christmas Yet. Avoiding the incessant vocal vandalism done to traditional Christmas carols and holiday chestnuts is all but impossible if you go anywhere in the American marketplace between now and January 1. Unfortunately having one’s ears stuffed with cotton is not particularly polite when in public. While I love good Christmas music, and there is a wealth of fine music for that holiday, the season of Advent is all but ignored by all but a few. In a sort of personal resistance to the American obsession with the holiday spirit, prior to the holiday, I listen only to Advent...


Sicilian Trogs, I: Preface

Speaking a different language forces the traveler to wonder how in the world foreigners manage to distort English—and vice versa.  In Italy a bar is a place to get coffee and a pastry, have a light lunch, drink a glass of wine, but it is not for serious drinkers and does exclude children. 


Tom Farr, Jesse Helms and Abortion

I knew Tom Farr when we were undergraduates at Hillsdale College in the mid-1970s, then young conservatives in Washington in the mid-1980s. He is a fine man without a prejudiced bone in his body. It’s so unfair he’s being publicly trashed for being a “racist” after he was appointed to be a district judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina and received the highest recommendation from the American Bar Association.


Wednesday’s Child: A State of No Conscience

“In an instant I had my lifelong foe by the throat. After so many years of waiting and longing, he was mine at last. I tore him to shreds and fragments. I rent the fragments to bits. I cast the bleeding rubbish into the fire, and drew into my nostrils the grateful incense of my burnt-offering.  At last, and forever, my Conscience was dead!  I was a free man!  I turned upon my poor aunt, who was almost petrified with terror, and shouted: ‘Out of this house with your paupers, your charities, your reforms, your pestilent morals! You behold before...


The Paul Ehrlich Half-Century

People like to give names to periods. During the span from 1968 to 2018, numerous events happened: the end of the Cold War, the rise of the computers and so on. But one thing now stands out: demographic collapse in almost every country. So I’m calling it the Paul Ehrlich Half-Century because 1968 was the year his book “The Population Bomb” was published by the Sierra Club and Ballantine Books, whose publicists had a flair for marketing.  The paperbook version included a lit bomb on the cover, along with the subheadings: “Population Control or Race to Oblivion?” And, in shouting...


Wednesday’s Child: Easy Listening

Another impression I took home after that fortnight in London was of being trapped in an elevator of the 1980’s.  This is really a new thing in the city most people associate with reserve, politeness, and tranquility, that one is everywhere and at all hours surrounded with “music.”  Needless to say, it’s not music at all, but a cousin of what during my American years I heard played in elevators, shopping malls, and offices of the more vicious kind of dentist. I read recently that the American original was called Muzak because its inventor had been so taken with Kodak...