ERROL CASTENS: Toe talents and faulty philosophies



“It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it,” said 1930s-era Major League pitcher Dizzy Dean.

Such a sentiment prompted me the other night to counter my wife’s observation before we turned the light out.

In doing my pre-slumber yawning and stretching – everybody needs an exercise routine, after all – Sue noticed my left foot, with its digits splayed wide.

“Why are your toes so crooked?” she asked.

I didn’t really have a theory except that they’ve spent 16 hours or more, most days, for the last 50-plus years confined within shoes and carrying a large, economy-size human being.

But feeling called upon to defend my toes’ honor, I reminded her that they aren’t all about looking like corkscrew willow branches – after all, I can pick up some amazingly small objects with them, and I’d pit my little toes against those of some professional athletes for their strength.

Not that picking up marbles or pushing against someone’s finger is of the measure of a man’s worth, but it may be human nature to attribute inordinate importance and impressiveness to any braggin’ rights we can lay claim to.

It’s a bit like the minutiae in which we collectively mire down at times. Somebody smarter called it choking on gnats and swallowing camels.

It’s like a university casting itself as, above all its other roles, a bastion of civility and inclusion, so that no one’s feelings are hurt, except those who do not embrace the views deemed acceptable in academe – a university that forgets one of its major roles is to be a marketplace where young adults are taught to examine, analyze, evaluate and defend competing ideas and ideals (as courteously, admittedly, as their opponents will allow them to do so) so those young adults may discard or adopt their ideas and ideals as they weigh the evidence on each.

It’s like those Democrats and Republicans – ostensibly on opposite sides of a political argument, but one group wanting to win and the other wanting mostly to seem “reasonable” and “statesmanlike”– ganging up to label as “extremist” anyone who believes the direction of the nation is dire, who says so and who tries to change it instead of rearranging deck chairs … well, you know.

It’s like the self-congratulatory souls who feel they have fulfilled their duty to the poor by advocating for higher taxes, more tax-funded subsidies and more mandates toward employers but who don’t know a single poor person by name and can’t even consider the possibility that federal “compassion” programs, with their resulting spiral of poverty and crime and generational dependence, constitute Exhibit A in proving the Law of Unintended Consequences.

I looked at my toes and noted their strengths.

“It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it,” I repeated.

Sue replied, “It ain’t worth braggin’ if it doesn’t serve a good purpose.”

Errol Castens is a reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at or (662) 816-1282.

Click video to hear audio

  • Guest Person

    I am sorry but your attempt to promote your Tea Party rhetoric though a personal accolade failed as your writing made little sense this week.
    Your wife made fun of your toes so you attack our social safety net because ?????????

  • Kevin

    Yes, I too don’t get the connection between Casten’s snaggle toes and his disdain for academia. What did academia do to your toes, dude? I know that higher ed is need of serious reform, but I don’t think you should expect it to fix your feet.


    While your contemplating your toes and judging others Mr Castens, you might consider the fact that those of your political bent have held sway over the state of MS since its founding. Then consider MS’s position in the nation and look in the mirror for blame.