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Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Trinity Sunday!

Ol’ Robbo was quite pleased this week to see Notre Dame Cathedral celebrate its first Mass since the fire back in April.  I was particularly delighted, in a way, to see everybody wearing hard hats.  Perseverance in the face of calamity.  The words “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” immediately flashed across my braims.

(I’m also pleased to see that all the “let’s rebuild the Cathedral as an eco-friendly multi-purpose center with lots of glass and light and a minaret” clickbait claptrap has vanished from the innertoobs ever since the French Senate said “Non!”  I have one friend on FacePlant in particular who was practically on the verge of self-immolation, she was so upset at the prospect.)

So Vacation Bible School starts this week over to Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church.  Eldest Gel, who has been involved in the hospitality side of the program for some time, is in charge of the whole thing this year, and has been industriously counting hotdogs and juice boxes to make sure the little darlins’ are adequately fed.  I don’t know why, but she’s always delighted in this sort of thing.  Perhaps a career in culinary or hospitality management is in order?

Looking over, by the bye, I see the theme of VBS this year is “One Family, One Race, One Savior”.  Well, it ain’t exactly the Little Maoist Antifa Boot-Camp, but coupled with the fact that the RFEC  seems to have dubbed next Sunday as “Refugee Sunday”, I’m not sure it’s really all that far off, either.

UPDATE: Oh, and of course Happy Fathers Day to all of you!




Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Pentecost!

I saw an article this afternoon penned by Missourah Senator Josh Hawley and concerned with what he sees as a manifestation of heretical Pelagianism in our modern society.

Ol’ Robbo isn’t especially up on the particular shades of historickal heresies (I know just a wee bit about the various false arguments regarding the nature of Christ such as Arianism and Nestorianism), so I can’t vouch one way or the other for Sen. Hawley’s take, but this is about the first time I can recall a politician even trying to make this kind of argument.  It’s refreshing and intriguing.

But whether it’s Pelagianism, Neo-Paganism, something else, or a mix thereof, I think it pretty much reduces to the expression “Non serviam!”

They can count me out.

A glass of wine with Ed Driscoll over at the Puppy-Blender’s place.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope and trust that all y’all (as they say in Texas) had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend, taking some time, of course, to reflect on why we have the holiday in the first place and to honor the fallen.

Anyhoo, as he climbed back into the Innerwebz this morning, Ol’ Robbo’s eye was taken by an article which makes him, at least potentially, very happy:  French Senate says Notre-Dame must be restored exactly as it was.

On Monday evening, the French Senate approved the government’s Notre-Dame restoration bill – but added a clause that it must be restored to the state it was before the blaze, striking a blow to the government which had launched an international architecture competition to debate ideas on the restoration.

Now to be perfectly honest, I’ve no idea what the “French Senate” actually is.  Nor do I know how it interacts with “the government”  (although I expect the latter is something akin to our own Executive Branch).  If you read the article in full, it also hints that the final authorization still has to be ironed out with yet another legislative chamber, so despite the headline, this apparently is not a done deal yet.

Nonetheless, I am encouraged.  I dismissed as so much fluff all those ideas about rebuilding the place with a glass ceiling, a minaret, a roof-top garden, and other modernist sacrilegious tweeks the other day, but I confess that I still had a Nameless Fear that something of the sort might happen.  Matter of fact, I still do, and will continue to harbor it until I see the actual construction start.

Mind you, I doubt this move by the Frog Senate has much to do with religious motivation or preservation as HMC would see it.  Instead, I believe it is more in line with what I’ve read about a draconian obsession amongst the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys** with historick preservation of Things Uniquely French.   After all, I believe there still exists an Academy which lays down the law about such things as cluttering up the French language with bastard English (the law being that you can’t).

But hey, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, amirite?

Of course, this assertion of orthodozy brings Ol’ Robbo round to wondering again how on earth that rat-bastard Mitterand ***  managed to swing the construction of I.M. Pei’s pyramid slap in front of the Louvre.  That thing went up 30 years ago.  I remember thinking at the time that it was nothing more than a giant flipping of the bird to Western (and more specifically French) Tradition.  Nothing since then has given me any reason to change my mind.

Howsoever, that’s an aside.  I am still cautiously optimistic about this week’s nooz regarding Notre Dame.


** Okay, how could I write a post about the French without slipping that in?

*** One of my favorite modern Catholic Apologists, John Zmirak, uses Mitterand as a case study in Gluttony for Power in his Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins.  Well worth a read.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is not quite ready to set his hair on fire and start running about screaming over the idea of Notre Dame Cathedral being fitted out with a green or glass roof, or being turned into some kind of generic “worship center”.  So far as I understand it, people are just spit-balling at this point and the MSM is feasting on click-bait.  The actual decision will take years and probably will be made by people not currently in the position to do so.  (IOW, I hope that punk Macron is long gone by then.)

Of course, Ol’ Robbo favors an exact reconstruction of the original (although I can do without the spire), but you probably guessed that already.

UPDATE:  A friend of the decanter asks, “Tom, what do you have to say about the Abortion Wars hotting up again this week?” Not much, really, as I figure I’d probably just be preaching to the choir here.  I am and always have been Pro-Life.  So are the Gels.  That’s that.

And while I’m updating, I’ll also say I really don’t know much yet about that Charles County, Murrland public school forced recitation of the Islamic conversion creed now possibly heading to the Supremes.  It seems outrageous on the surface, at least, although I’m rather inclined to agree with the same instructor’s alleged remark that, “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.” (I’m looking at you, C&E Crowd!)  But as I say, I haven’t dug into the facts much, nor into the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning for siding with the school.  (In fact, I don’t even remember that ruling coming out.)  Ol’ Robbo has no problem with a public school teaching about a major religion, but forcing a kid to practice it (or even pretend to) seems to me to go way over the line.  OTOH, having been involved in litigation that’s made its way into the press myself, I know just how distorted a story can get.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As most of you Friends of the Decanter probably already know, a new movie about J.R.R. Tolkien opened this weekend.  Ol’ Robbo inadvertently saw an ad for it yesterday (no thanks to Microsoft, which makes me look at ads when I want to play Free Cell on my laptop).  It looked…strange.

The movie is supposed to be all about the real-life inspirations for Tolkien’s great fantasy world.  However, the buzz Ol’ Robbo has been hearing in the corners of the Innertoobs  he haunts is that there is almost no mention whatsoever of a dominant factor in his life, namely his religion.  Tolkien, as I’m sure you all know, was a devout Catholic.  And while the story of Middle Earth isn’t allegory, it is most definitely shaped in many different ways by his Christianity.  How any purported ” inspirational biography” can ignore that is quite beyond me.

And even if you just shake your head and mutter something about Godless Hollywood and airbrushing history,  from a pure financial perspective the thing doesn’t make much sense to me either.  Ol’ Robbo may be just a simple country doctor, but I can’t help thinking that a movie like this, which is not at all the same thing as one of Peter Jackson’s LOTR extravaganzas, likely would appeal mostly to an audience who are already Tolkien Nerds to begin with., a laShadowlands” and the C.S. Lewis crowd.  And as Tolkien Nerds, they’re likely already pretty familiar with his biography.  And familiar with that biography, they’d be mighty put out by such a glaring omission and would sit on their hands.

But heck, what do I know?

Not that I ever do go to the movies anyway, but I’m not planning to bother with this one.  Of course, if any of you see it, feel free to drop a comment.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry, but my Muse is absolutely, stonily silent this evening.  Several ideas have popped into the Robbo braims, including thoughts on radical environmentalist headlines this week and their relationship to Gnosticism; the end last evening of Youngest’s school softball season; and today’s birthday anniversary of Johannes Brahms.  Try as I might to woo her assistance, however, she’s just not having anything to do with translating them into coherent posts.  (Hell, it’s taken me twenty minutes to suss out just this paragraph!)

Blame pollen, I guess.

I suppose I’ll go and see what new ways my beloved Nationals can find to lose ball games.  That’ll free up my tongue, probably, although not in ways suitable to a family blog.








Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I believe I mentioned the other day that Eldest decided to come home for reading days before her finals in order to drop off a load of her junk.

She and I got talking last evening about a History of Judaism** class she’s taking this semester.  The Rabbi who teaches it claims to be a Conservative.  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t know much about the strains and gradations of American Judaism these days, but from some of the things the Gel tells me have come out of this one’s mouth, there’s no real difference between Conservatives and Reformed anymore.  The Gel is still trying to wrap her brain around the idea that modern American Judaism is mostly cultural, not religious.

Anyhoo, the Gel told me about a discussion the class had concerning Abraham’s haggling with God over the fate of Sodom.  In the end, according to the Rabbi, Abraham was trying to “hold God to a Higher Standard”.  This is code language Ol’ Robbo has heard in many other forms from time to time and loosely translates into, “I’d worship a God only if xhe was more like Me.”

The Gel was having none of it.

“What are you talking about?” she said. “God is omniscient, omnipotent, and timeless! Nobody could challenge Him to be ‘higher’ because He’s already the Highest!  Abraham was looking for mercy and maybe thought he could change God’s mind, but he didn’t have the slightest chance because God’s mind doesn’t change.”

To her credit, the Rabbi has got used to the Gel calling her out on things and doesn’t punish her for it.  She acknowledged that yes, the Gel’s viewpoint was at least a valid one.

Sigh.…Do none of these people who think they can out-God God read Job anymore?

In the same conversation with me, by the bye, the Gel roundly damned Humanism, said the term “The Enlightenment” is a wholesale fraud, criticized another history professor for making the class study the Battle of the Wabash to show the United States Army “wasn’t perfect” (“Where the hell did he get that strawman?” she said), and generally condemned anyone who applies 21st Century sensibilities to historickal facts (in this case, American colonization of the Ohio Valley) as idiots.

That’s my Gel!


**Mrs. R’s family, on her father’s side, are Sephardic Jews who can trace their ancestry all the way back to getting chucked out of Spain during the Inquisition.  This fact has always intrigued Eldest Gel and has largely shaped her academic interests.  Most of her studies have focused on religious history, particularly in Renaissance Europe, and she’s spent much of her time trying to uncake the mud of Modernist interpretation to get at it.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt such a group as you friends of the decanter will be heartened by this story: Beer, Wine, and Chocolate Are Key to Living a Long Life, Study Says.

Working with more than 68,000 participants, [Warsaw University’s Professor Joanna] Kaluza and a team of scientists found that those with diets rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as beer, wine, and chocolate, which have anti-inflammatory properties, were up to 20 percent less likely to die prematurely [of heart disease and cancer] than those who ate a lot of red meat, sugary sodas, and processed foods.

“It is known that fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, red wine, beer, and chocolate are rich in antioxidants,” Kaluza told Metro.

What would we do without studies?

As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo’s own diet cuts almost perfectly at right angles across these statements.  Coffee and wine are basically the alpha and omega of my dietary day.  On the other hand, I’m not really a beer drinker (it makes me feel bloaty), and I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever (so avoid both chocolate and soda).  Meanwhile, I am a dedicated carnivore, am mildly indifferent to fruits (except pineapple, which I loathe), and am very picky about vegetables (read: nothing beyond a green salad and an artichoke every now and again).  I dunno what “processed foods” actually means, but I suppose I eat some of them, too.   Result? So far into my now firmly middle age, neither my waistline nor my weight have changed very much since my college days, and although my doc has tsk-tsk’d at me about these dietary confessions, she’s never yet been able to pin specific medical consequences to them.   So there.

Indeed, Ol’ Robbo has long suspected that the real allocation of overall health and longevity is, in fact, genetically-based.  Diet, exercise, mental well-being – in fact the whole concept embodied in the old tag mens sana in corpore sano – are important, of course, and can’t be ignored, but I suspect that their impact (beyond outright abusive behavior) is mostly at what one might call the margins:  If you’re pre-programmed to last somewhere between 75 and 85 years, attention to these things may land you at the top of that range, but it won’t really help you hit your century.  For contra-examples, consider these stories that turn up every now and again of somebody who smokes cigars prodigiously, knocks back whiskey every day, and lives to be 115.

Go figure.

At any rate, a glass of wine with the Puppy-Blender, from whom I lifted this story, although I actually find objectionable his oft-repeated enthusiasm for the notion of extending human life through Science!  Where he sees good in technological breakthroughs that could extend the average lifespan to 150 years or even preserve each of our “essences” indefinitely, all I see is the devil shouting at God, “Non serviam!”   We all die to this life, whether we like it or not.  Properly centered in Faith, we shouldn’t mind it.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo should clarify re that last bit that I am neither talking smack because I happen to be in good health at the moment nor am I suggesting cancers and other illnesses should not be fought vigorously.  God alone knows how I’ll react if and when I get that call from the doc’s assistant telling me I need to come in for a “talk”.  Instead, I’m objecting to the broader notion of significantly changing our natural parameters, or even outrunning Death altogether, through science and technology.  This includes everything from artificially growing “spare” parts to downloading our consciousness into some sort of computer bank to sticking our heads in jars a la “Futurama”.

Also, I meant to mention that J.R.R. Tolkien thought this idea important enough to touch on it in his writings.  In The Simarillion, Man’s natural death originally was called “the Gift of Eru ” but Morgoth, through lies and whispers, convinced Men it was an evil thing, so it became know as “the Curse of Eru”.  This served to diminish Men’s character and to estrange them from both Eru Himself and from the apparently immortal Elves.  Both the Kings of Numenor and then later (in the back story to The Lord of the Rings) those of Gondor became so obsessed with escaping it that they caused their own ruin.  Of course, Middle Earth, as Tolkien insisted, is not an allegory, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t weave his own worldview into it both in theme (as here) and specific actions. (It’s no coincidence, for example, that the Ring goes into the Fire on March 25.)

And speaking of Ol’ J.R.R., I understand there’s a new biopic coming out about him, but I also understand (at least from FacePlant sources) that it contains virtually no reference whatsoever to his deeply-held Catholic Faith.  How anyone could expect to truly understand his character formation and development without exploring that aspect of it, I simply can’t imagine.  Of course, the keyword in that sentence is “truly”, so there you go.  Unless somebody convinces me otherwise, I do not plan to see it.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Quasimodo Sunday!

Ol’ Robbo was particularly touched by today’s Collect (Old Calendar):

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui paschalia festa peregimus; haec, te largiente, moribus et vita teneamus.

(Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Paschal Feast, may, by Thy bounty, retain its fruits in our daily habits, and behavior.)

I had been thinking again about such things just this morning.  By the end of Lent and a rather heavy lode of fasts and abstinences he took on, Ol’ Robbo felt that he was getting the Holy Ghost’s signal quite a bit more clearly than he has for some time now. I fear that slipping back into my old routines (and I have to slip somewhat because I couldn’t keep that up indefinitely), it’ll start getting fuzzier again like the signal from my clock-radio, which you have to adjust just so if you expect to hear anything coherent, and which keeps going out of alignment all by itself.

Not that I’m expecting Bose-quality clarity, of course, but I don’t want to eat static.

And as it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday, the Padre gave a very good homily about the importance to Christian Faith of forgiving others which I wish I could get my siblings to hear.  It also hit home because they had a falling out when the Mothe died and haven’t spoken to each other since, and my understanding of the situation is that neither one is willing to budge until the other first admits that They Were Wrong.  I find the whole biznay to be petty and vindictive, not to mention anguishing, especially given that the Mothe’s will contained a codicil which specifically said “Don’t Fight!”  But so far nobody is paying much attention to my efforts at peace-making.  (Just have to keep trying, I suppose.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is patting himself on the back this morning because he actually made the effort to go out and cut the Port Swiller Manor grass last evening after work ahead of today’s forecast showers and thunderstorms.  So Ma Nature is free to throw her weight around all she likes this afternoon as far as I’m concerned.  (Not that she will now, of course, the fickle hussy.  I’ve heard exactly one clap of thunder this entire spring so far.)  Also, as we’re still in the Octave of Easter, today is a Bacon Friday for me.  So Ol’ Robbo is in a pretty durn good mood overall.  With that in mind, how about a bit o’ random?

♦  Not that I touch on politicks much here, but I must say I’m a bit surprised that Creepy Uncle Joe Biden decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Donks’ ’20 nom.  I suppose the Establishment figured he’s their best hope, as She Who Must Not Be Named will shortly be radioactive and there’s not much else available on the bench.  I’d be even more surprised if he actually gets it, as the Jacobins seem to have completely hijacked the Party and will eat him alive.  (My guess at this point would be an eventual ticket composed of some combination of Crazy Uncle Bernie and Kamala [nickname not repeatable on a family blog] Harris. In sane times, we’d be looking at another McGovern/Mondale-level blow out, but I’m not so sanguine about that just yet.)

♦  Speaking of benches, Ol’ Robbo is bitterly disappointed that his beloved Nationals are finishing up April as a .500 club.  This is troubling both because the NL East is so competitive this year that every game is probably going to count come September, and also because we seem to be picking right back up with the same mediocrity we displayed all of last year.  Is it too early to set my hair on fire and call for the sacking of Dave Martinez?

♦ How are the Gels, you may ask? Doing well, thankee.  Middle Gel is in the thick of freshman finals right now, and later will be going back for “May-mester” to take statistics, a task I do not envy her.  Eldest is just finishing up junior year classes and will be coming home next week to drop off a load of junk before heading back for her own exams.  As for Youngest, the college search is ramping up this spring.  We’re mostly looking in-state, but we’ve also got our eye on Miami of Ohio.  Want some fun facts about the place? My great-grandmother’s family lived in the area of Oxford, Ohio from about 1800 until the mid-1950’s.  In fact, a couple of them were alums of the school, I believe.  They had a house in town that was eventually bough and torn down by the University as part of its expansion.  They also owned a mill outside of town along Four-Mile Creek that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad until the end of the War.  (They were stout Scots-Presbyterian Abolitionists, the lot of them.)  The Mothe always insisted that Great-Granma ‘Rilla was crazy as a loon and that it was her family’s blood which gave all of us descendants our own peculiar taint, but the history is pretty neat nonetheless.

♦  Speaking of gels, did you see the article about the Scottish Maritime Museum being bullied by vandals into ceasing to refer to ships as “she”?  That reminds me of one of my very favorite lines from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, where Spock says simply and elegantly as the Enterprise clears moorings, “Take her out, Mr. Saavik.”  Oh, and I suppose you also heard about Kate Smith being unpersoned by the Yankees?  If Ol’ Robbo ever found himself in Yankee Stadium – not that I’m likely to – I’d be belting out “God Bless America” at the top of my lungs during the 7th Inning Stretch, and be damned to these thugs and bullies.  Oh, and while I’m at it, a trio of Murrland Congress-critters is now trying to get rid of the statue of Robert E. Lee at Antietam.  Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember when airbrushing people out of history was the study of Kremlinologists and was considered a Bad Thing.  I’m also old enough to remember when Orwell’s “1984” was considered a cautionary tale and not a how-to manual.

Anyhoo, enough of that.  As I say, I’m in a good mood today, so how is it that three out of my four bits of random are so cranky?  Well, you’ve got to keep your eyes open and your wits about you these days, but at the same time, illegitimi non carborundum.  (They hate that, by the way, bless their hearts!)

And now I’m off to go see about some of that bacon.  Sweet, sweet, delicious bacon……………

UPDATE:  Well, Ma is coming through, it would seem.  The first of the afternoon t-showers just rolled through and it looks like another one will be here in just a few minutes.  So I’m about up to seven claps of thunder on the year so far.  Now if Ma really likes us, she might just rain out Youngest’s softball game tonight, not because I don’t want to see her play, but because I’m so comfy where I am right now….






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