Category: Free Content


Should Students Read T.S. Eliot?

Dear Autodidact: Question for you. T. S Eliot is one of my favorite poets. ( I have read and re-read many of his poems) Most friends of mine aren’t as enthusiastic about him. I’ve often heard people say that he “killed poetry” with his “Modernist” style. This is also the view of a number of conservative professors I know (none is  a literary scholar, though) Do you think there’s any truth to this claim? I tend to read poetry for its meaning, not its style (so Eliot’s style doesn’t bother me much) A Catholic College Student Dear Catholic College Student,...


Direct Election: A Grave Threat to Republics

John Seiler has posted a sensible column on why the electoral college is not going to disappear in a puff of smoke.  He points out that one of the great compromises that made the Constitution possible is an electoral system that protects the interests of smaller states without eliminating all the advantage enjoyed by larger states.  There is, however, another aspect of the electoral college that is worth looking at:  the principle of indirect election.


Sicilian Trog, Part II

This is the long-awaited Part II of my Agrigento Trog There is hardly a better place in Europe—not even Athens—were the differences between the ancient and the modern world can be felt so acutely.  20th century Agrigento is, at its best, a tribute to the greed and and contempt for humanity that have characterized modern governments that are the distilled essence of democratic man.  The local government is hopelessly inept at carrying out the most basic tasks—picking up trash, policing traffic, cracking down on organized crime.  And yet, good democratic socialists that they are, they have imposed new rules on...


God Rest You Merry: Carols, Hymns, Dances and Ditties of ChristmasBy David Wihowski

Then why should men on earth be so sad, Since our Redeemer made us glad, When from our sin he set us free, All for to gain our liberty? ~ from the “Sussex Carol These four lines capture the essence of Christmas celebration. Those puritanical Christians (or even non- Christians) who would squelch the celebration, miss the point: “our Redeemer made us glad!” In a previous posting (“Not Christmas Yet”) I may have seemed a little Scrooge-y, but I believe that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every a purpose under heaven.” And that means that...


Trog 5: Excelsior!

Ancient Akrágas was built on top of a steep hill overlooking the sea.  In its century of prosperity from the late 6th to the early 5th century, when it was mercilessly destroyed by the Carthaginians, the city spread down to a ridge that slid steeply to the sea.  It was on that lofty brow that Theron, the lord of Akrgas, began constructing temples even before he teamed up with Gelon, the lord of Syracuse, to defeat the Carthaginians, who had invaded the island from the North.   I am using the term “lord,” because the Greek term, tyrannos, is almost...


Imperialism from the Cradle to the Grave, Part One of Two

Speaking in the broadest generalities, a  healthy and thriving religious civilization does not have to reassure itself by burning temples and overthrowing altars.   The atrocious vandalisms and massacres perpetrated by bands of Isis thugs in the name of Islam tells us something about Islam, and the same can be said for Christian sects whose members have broken stained glass windows and destroyed images of Christ, his Mother, and the saints.  They have  moral and spiritual screw lose, not just individually but collectively.


Trog 5

On Thursday, I  took a break from slogging on this blog–does that make me a Slogger Trogger?– and we drove to Heraclea Minoa, a colony projected (6th century?) by the colonial city of Selinus as a frontier defense against the encroaching forces of the more powerful Akragas (Agrigento).  In time, Akragas got the upper hand and took the town, only to lose it in the disastrous struggle with Carthage at the end of the Fifth Century. Sikeliot Greeks, led by the tyrants of Syracuse and Akragas,  had defeated Carthage decisively in 480, but their incessant conflicts among themselves, aggravated by...


Trog 4

Last night, we celebrated my partial recovery by drinking a bottle of Zibibbo.  The grape, otherwise known as the Muscat of Alexandria, is most often made into a sweet wine or even a passito.  Passiti, which go back to the ancient Mediterranean, are wines made from grapes left to dry on the vine.  Columella says the Carthaginian version was called Passum, a term that may be preserved in the Italian.


Wednesday’s Child: Beauty and the Housewife

A young lady – well, not that young, actually, let’s say about my age – has reviewed my new book in The Spectator, a British literary and political weekly once known for its conservative sympathies.  Suffice it to say that when I wrote for it in the 80’s and 90’s the magazine was under the editorship of a man who was later appointed the authorized biographer of Margaret Thatcher.  But that’s all water under the bridge now. The reviewer, named Sara Wheeler, is a “travel writer.”  In the West, where anybody can travel as easily and as fast as she...


Sicilian Trog 3

On Saturday, I finally was able to fall asleep in the afternoon, but my slumbers were cut short by the expected arrival of Il nostro amico Russo, who had driven down with my landlord, a lawyer in Palermo, who returns to his home periodically.  I was not the most entertaining of hosts, though I did bring out a good bottle of grappa di amarone, barricata.  I had managed to drink a glass or two the previous Thursday and now had to watch as Navrozov ruthlessly swilled glass after glass.  I begrudged him not my liquor, but I did resent his enjoyment.