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The Crank: He does not care

“He does not care for women, but for Votes for Women; he does not care for children, but for education; he does not care for animals, but for anti-vivisection; he does not care for Nature, but for ’open spaces. He does not care for anything unless he can do something to it.”—GKC

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  • Francis W. Porretto December 6, 2022, 3:42 AM

    I can’t go along with Chesterton this time, even though he is one of my heroes. You see, I’m a crank — subcategory curmudgeon — and I don’t feel any need to “make a difference.” I just want to vent. This is a venerable tradition, followed by Albert Jay Nock, H. L. Mencken, and other cranks of note. So counterexamples exist. Indeed, they may be more numerous than we suppose.

    (For further thoughts on curmudgeonry, not that you actually need any, see here: https://www.libertystorch.info/2022/02/13/curmudgeonry-in-a-nutshell/)

    • Vanderleun December 6, 2022, 9:39 AM

      Well, you ARE a crank.
      But you are OUR crank.

    • Balzoa December 6, 2022, 10:29 AM

      As I read the commentary, I consistently envisioned an ordinary liberal – nothing else.

  • BroKen December 6, 2022, 4:42 AM

    Mr. Porretto, I think Chesterton would call himself a crank by your definition. “Curmudgeon” might be the better term, but then what would you call those he describes? Perhaps there is a category error. What if we put “crank” along side “curmudgeon” underneath “gadfly”?

    • james wilson December 6, 2022, 11:57 AM

      Chesterton made no suggustion that his cranks were cranky. Poretto is just cranky.

  • Steve (retired/recovering lawyer) December 6, 2022, 6:29 AM

    Cross-pollination among some of my favorite blogs! Lovely of you to visit, Mr. Porretto. I’ll see you on your blog later. Cheerio!

  • Anne December 6, 2022, 8:41 AM

    I am tired of you. We have one in our inner circle–a crank–someone who destroys all hope!

  • Dirk December 6, 2022, 8:54 AM

    To Make A Difference, big or small, at some level, here or there.

    Seems to me, most never know of their contribution, its not memorialized until one’s passing.

    But then I digress to my favorite amusing observation.

    “ Theirs no promotion,,, like self promotion”

    I love these Bavarian’s!

  • Mike Austin December 6, 2022, 9:16 AM

    I made it through 27 years of teaching without a single colleague knowing that I was a crank. I shared very little with them, but a few of my students figured it out. Their words to describe me were “strange”, “weird”, “out-there” and “gone”. Suited me then. Suits me now.

    Now almost 4 years retired and free from colleagues, annoying parents and their brainwashed off-spring, superintendents and principals, I can say whatever I damn want to—and I do just that here at American Digest. I do not regard anyone here as a “crank”, I regard them as normal. I answer to no one save for God and friends. I once was beholden to the US Government, but no more. It is not my government and deserves not loyalty, but scorn at worst and indifference at best.

    As for Chesterton, I tried and tried to enjoy his writing, but could never quite manage it. I did plow through his “Orthodoxy” and “The Everlasting Man” though they were quite the slogs. For my money the man wrote too many words. What it took Chesterton a page to say, C. S. Lewis and Belloc could explain in a few sentences.

    It might not matter—then again, it might—that Chesterton ate enough for three men, and it showed. He said to his thin friend George Bernard Shaw, “To look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England.” Shaw retorted, “To look at you, anyone would think you had caused it.”

    • Vanderleun December 6, 2022, 9:37 AM

      Wish I could eat as much as one man, but right now with my sense of taste reporting that all food tastes “corrupted” I’m just on this crash dies of a pound and a half a day. Arrrrrrrgh.

      • Mike Austin December 6, 2022, 10:17 AM

        I survive as did Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, eating only one meal a day and never until absolutely full. If something amiss happens and I am as stuffed as Whoopi or The Oprah, I could move only sluggishly, and that condition might cost me my life. So I am always a bit hungry. Like now. What I would not give for two Micky D’s cheeseburgers—meat, cheese and onions only—a large fries and a chocolate shake! As it is I do have some Chicken Alfredo with fettuccine leftovers from Monday’s cooking. They will have to do.

        • John Venlet December 6, 2022, 10:54 AM

          I like leftovers, and actually ate leftover homemade pork and pinto bean concoction my Lovely Melis made for lunch today. I do follow the 3 square meals a day mantra, just because I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a hard-working metabolism, which is evidenced by the fact that I only weigh about 6 pounds more today than when I enlisted in the Navy in 1979. My Lovely Melis is quite envious of this.

          • Mike Austin December 6, 2022, 1:10 PM

            I cook two or three times per week, and so enjoy leftovers for at least four days. I love ’em! Alfredo, Five Cheese Mac, Kung Pao Chicken, Enchiladas, Frijoles, Spaghetti—and on and on.

            When I enlisted in the USAF I was so skinny! For the first time in years I got to eat to my heart’s content. I fattened up after Basic, but then began to understand working out—weights, running, swimming and so on—and have exercised vigorously for the last 45 years.

            If I ate three times a day I would look like Chesterton. My metabolism has slowed down considerably since I looked like this:


            I weigh about 25 – 30 pounds more now, alas. But for the past month I have embarked on a drastic diet and exercise program. I need to strengthen my knees and get in better shape for the 2.5 months I will spend solo backpacking in northern Guatemala February – May next year. Details to come.

            • John Venlet December 6, 2022, 1:37 PM

              I would’ve thought all your bike riding would burn more calories outta ya, Mike. Like the photo, the gear you’re wearing appears to be fine, long lasting gear, kinda like what Willis & Geiger used to produce.

            • ghostsniper December 6, 2022, 2:10 PM

              Before I went in the army in 74 at age 19 I had been working in concrete construction in FL and I was fairly buff, about 175 lbs and 6′ tall. Basic, AIT, then jump school beat my ass raw. I lost 25 lbs during that period. When I went home on leave afterward my mother said she didn’t recognize me, said I looked like a concentration camp victim. lol
              We have eaten 1 meal a day for years.

            • Mike Austin December 6, 2022, 3:00 PM

              John: When bikepacking I lose 10 pounds per month. When just bicycling I can lose about half that, but not if I drink wine a few times per week. So the booze had to go. I want to be at 170 pounds by mid-February. I always use the best gear available. Less quality equipment might be fine for the US, but for weeks alone in the jungle or the Andes excellent gear will save your life. It has saved mine many times.

              Ghost: When I returned my 1600-mile bikepacking journey in 2015 I had lost 25 pounds. No one at work recognized me. My superintendent at Lincoln School in Buenos Aires said that whenever I returned from a backpacking trip in the Andes or in Central America, I looked skeletal.

              • John Venlet December 7, 2022, 4:20 AM

                I always use the best gear available.

                Like my dad always said, “It costs a little more to go first class, but it’s usually worth it.

                I agree with you, Mike, and my dad, get the best gear available.

                • Mike Austin December 7, 2022, 6:38 AM

                  Your dad was a wise man.

                  Once in the Argentine Andes I was backpacking on a difficult trail that should have taken one week to complete. I was with three other folks, and together we had two tents. I had a North Face Tadpole tent for my then wife. The other couple had some non-descript brand of tent. Two days into the journey we were hit with ferocious wind and rainstorms that lasted one week. During the third night the other tent collapsed and was torn to shreds, forcing four adults to share my two-man tent. We survived the night warm and dry. Had that North Face tent also collapsed, all four of us would have perished. This scenario lasted four more days and nights after which we were able to get out of those mountains.

                  After returning to the town of Baroliche we found out that another party of four backpackers walking in the same region as we had been had died in the mountains.

                  Just bad luck.

                  • Mike Austin December 7, 2022, 6:52 AM

                    I found the link to the full story. The photos did not survive the migration from an old domain to my present one. I had not read it in years, and it brought back memories of fear and death. One should use and control the former. One should avoid the latter but not to the extent that you avoid taking risks.


                  • John Venlet December 7, 2022, 8:27 AM

                    Dang, Mike, you’re rather fortunate, because as you noted in your write up of that adventure, your situation was “beyond absurd” and “ridiculous” at the same time. But my, what sights you must’ve seen, and what travails you overcame.

  • julie December 6, 2022, 10:30 AM

    Seems fairly clear that what he called a “crank” back then describes the average leftist activist/ brainwashed student today.

    • Vanderleun December 7, 2022, 8:38 AM

      Oh… like Democrats?