This undoubtedly explains the lack of respect I receive relative to my fellow academics: Good-looking academics lose out in peer credibility: "Academics are sexy at their own risk, according to a new report that finds professors who are considered good-looking are often written off as 'lightweights.'" Perhaps it's time for me to tone things down a bit, especially my ongoing efforts to be at the cutting edge of fashion.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, who in 1878 became Pope Leo XIII. To celebrate the occasion, Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting his birthplace early next month. Leo XIII had a huge impact on the development of Catholic philosophy and social teachings during the 20th century, drawing on the writings of Thomas Aquinas and articulating a principle that would come to be known as subsidiarity.
Speaking of which, the following definition appeared in a recent student paper: "Subsidiarity . . . teaches that tasks should be performed by the slowest community possible." That explains a few things, doesn't it?
Should Muslims be allowed to build a mosque near ground zero? If they own the property and have not violated any city zoning ordinances, there is no legal reason to prevent them doing so. In this Barack Obama is correct. However, given the furor this proposal has aroused and given the sponsor's claimed goal of facilitating understanding between Muslims and nonmuslims, the Cordoba Initiative would be unwise to go forward with its plans, which are almost certain to obstruct this goal.
Some years ago my father showed me some old bottles of Commandaria dating back to the 1940s and the 1890s. Whether or not he still has them I don't know. After examining them at the time, my educated guess was that they were no longer drinkable. A Cypriot dessert wine, Commandaria is the oldest, continuously existing named wine in the world.
My genealogical research nearly a decade ago revealed that I am plausibly descended on my mother's side from Hugh VIII de Lusignan, the ancestor of the Latin kings of Cyprus, who were likely well acquainted with the sweet taste of Commandaria.