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Odds and ends from the staff of The Lamp.


✥ As we were putting the final touches on this issue of The Lamp, we stumbled on a news item announcing that a street in Madrid is to be named after Pope Benedict XVI. Those in favor of the proposition enumerated the late pope’s many merits, including his personal faith and his leadership of the faithful, but noted that Joseph Ratzinger will primarily be remembered as a transitional figure in the life of the Church. It was his task, first as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and then in a nearly eight-year papacy, to confront the waste inflicted on the Church in the last century, so much of which was self-inflicted. He bore that burden with a remarkable humility. This was because Ratzinger, the mayor of Madrid said, demonstrated throughout his life and works an understanding “that charity without truth is a hypocritical humanitarianism.” We could not agree more, and see a great wisdom in naming city streets after those whose lives have shaped our own. It puts us in the mind of Invisible Cities and the city Zaira, which “does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”

✥ A recent afternoon stroll through the Old City in Jerusalem revealed knowledge heretofore hidden from the West. A man in the Christian Quarter selling N.F.L. T-shirts, along with the usual array of Holy Land trinkets, pointed proudly to his collection of Washington Redskins shirts. “The last in the world,” he claimed. He had never heard of the so-called Washington Football Team and he never plans to buy Washington Commanders gear, although, he admitted, circumstances may force him to do so eventually. But even then he has some consolation. “Many centuries ago, the Redskins were called the Commanders,” he said. “At last they have returned to the old ways.”

✥ Ian Frazier’s latest entry in the New Yorker’s annual “Greetings, Friends!” feature left us scratching our heads.

Dear friends, we’re shelving ’22.
It brought some good that shineth through:
Freedom’s reboot, if just a sample,
In Zelensky’s grand example;
Democracy got off the mat
(Turns out it wasn’t quite that flat);
Add a mild return to reason,
Reinforced by this, the season
Rich in prompts to love our fellows.
Leave the coda to the cellos—
Measures deep and rich in tone
Sing that we are none alone.

So, he and his pals are returning to the shelf a year that emits light that was partially occluded before its shelving; this act is somehow a “sample” of a “reboot” of democracy not losing a wrestling match while it was strapped to a heart monitor. Then, we are induced to add (apparently this luminescent grappler-patient-product that is simultaneously being retired and launched and previewed is a cake or a stew as well) the reappearance of “reason” which is said to be in keeping with a spirit of omnibenevolence—and wait, now it’s just music?

This has to be some kind of record for mixed metaphor.

✥ Out of all the desperate etiquette rules (“Always wink,” “Never ask anyone what their job is,” etc.) recently published by a New York periodical, one in particular made us wonder if one of its writers has been dipping in on THE LAMP’s happy hours: “If you put out bowls of cigarettes at a party, you have to let people smoke inside. They’re not décor.”

✥ Our bedtime story comes from Aesop:

A rich nobleman once opened the theaters without charge to the people, and gave a public notice that he would handsomely reward any person who invented a new amusement for the occasion. Various public performers contended for the prize. Among them came a Buffoon well known among the populace for his jokes, and said that he had a kind of entertainment which had never been brought out on any stage before.
This report being spread about made a great stir, and the theater was crowded in every part. The Buffoon appeared alone upon the platform, without any apparatus or confederates, and the very sense of expectation caused an intense silence. He suddenly bent his head towards his bosom and imitated the squeaking of a little pig so admirably with his voice that the audience declared he had a porker under his cloak, and demanded that it should be shaken out. When that was done and nothing was found, they cheered the actor, and loaded him with the loudest applause. A Countryman in the crowd, observing all that has passed, said, “So help me, Hercules, he shall not beat me at that trick!” and at once proclaimed that he would do the same thing on the next day, though in a much more natural way.
On the morrow a still larger crowd assembled in the theater, but now partiality for their favorite actor very generally prevailed, and the audience came rather to ridicule the Countryman than to see the spectacle. Both of the performers appeared on the stage. The Buffoon grunted and squeaked away first, and obtained, as on the preceding day, the applause and cheers of the spectators. Next the Countryman commenced, and pretending that he concealed a little pig beneath his clothes (which in truth he did, but not suspected by the audience ) contrived to take hold of and to pull his ear causing the pig to squeak.
The Crowd, however, cried out with one consent that the Buffoon had given a far more exact imitation, and clamored for the Countryman to be kicked out of the theater. On this the rustic produced the little pig from his cloak and showed by the most positive proof the greatness of their mistake. “Look here,” he said, “this shows what sort of judges you are.”

✥ In Alabama, one Vinath Oudomsine recently appealed his sentence of thirty-six months for wire fraud—to which he has pleaded guilty—on the grounds that the authorities were prejudiced by the object he chose to acquire with his admittedly ill-gotten gains:

Oudomsine contends that his sentence is substantively unreasonable because the court gave undue weight to the need for deterrence factor without providing a compelling deterrence rationale. He claims the real reason the court varied upward was that it did not like him, and the reason it didn’t was that of the $85,000 he obtained by fraud he spent $57,789 to buy a single Pokémon card.

As a footnote helpfully informs us:

Pokémon cards are collectible cards used in a trading card game. See Pokémon Trading Card Game,,;

The card in question is now federal property:

WHEREAS, on October 19, 2021, Defendant Vinath Oudomsine (hereinafter, the fendant”) agreed to be charge by Information with one-count of Wire Fraud, in lation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343;
WHEREAS, on October 29, 2021, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Defendant ed guilty to Count One of the Information charging a violation of Title 18, United States ode, Section 1343;
WHEREAS, pursuant to his plea agreement, Defendant agreed to forfeit to the United States all right, title and interest in any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the offense to which he agreed to plead guilty, which for the purposes of this Consent Order of Forfeiture, shall mean one Pokemon card, described a, 1999 1st Edition Thick Stamp #4 Charizard Holo R (hereinafter, the “Subject Property”);
WHEREAS, pursuant to his plea agreement, Defendant agreed to waive the requirements of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 32.2, and 43(a) regarding notice of the forfeiture in the charging instrument, announcement of the forfeiture at sentencing, and incorporation of the forfeiture in the judgment without further order of the Court. 

✥ As this issue went to press, we were pleased to see Harrison Butker kick the game-winning field goal in Super Bowl LVII only two weeks after sealing the A.F.C. Championship in a similar fashion. While we deplore the liberalization of online sports gambling, we would be willing to consider a bet in which Traditiones custodes is abrogated if Butker can beat his career-long sixty-two yard field goal next season. Roman oddsmakers, feel free to be in touch!

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