SubscribeStar Saturday: More Graduation Day Wisdom

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Way back in May 2020, I wrote a SubscribeStar Saturday piece with some advice for graduates, most of it financial in nature—stay out of debt, start an IRA, save for retirement, etc.

A lot has changed since 2020.  I wrote that post during the early days of The Age of The Virus, back when we were all a bit frightened by what was going on, but already waking up to the tyrannical nature of the government’s response to The Virus.  It was also before rampant inflation and market instability in a structural sense really hit.  Sure, you had the shutdown collapse that March, but with government largesse forthcoming, the markets recovered those losses quickly.

I would still recommend saving and investing, but I would temper my advice in a less materialist direction.  So, here is my some more dubious graduation day wisdom.

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Gig Day VI: TJC Spring Jam II

It’s time for another front porch concert!  This event—the TJC Spring Jam and Recital—will be the fourth Front Porch concert I’ve hosted (I think), and I’ve learned quite a bit from the others, especially the last Spooktacular.

This year, instead of inviting another band to open the concert, I decided to make the first portion into a recital for my private music students.  I’ve been teaching private lessons for years, but have never done a recital, so it was high-time to give my students and opportunity to share their considerable talents.

The recital element also brings with it a built-in audience:  the students naturally come with their parents—and, potentially, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, family friends, etc.  More people means more merch sales, and possibly more tips and donations.

For this one, though, I’m not playing up the moneymaking aspect too heavily.  Yes, I hope to recoup some of my expenses for food and such, but the point is more to celebrate the hard work and talents of my private students.  If I sell some t-shirts and paintings, well, all the better.

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TBT: Disincentives to Work

I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom this week, but it sure feels like things are falling apart all around us:  food shortages, rising unemployment, riots.  I think we’re in for a really nasty summer, but I hope I’m wrong.

We’ve been muddling through longer than we realize.  While gas prices have only shot up in the past five months, people have been dropping out of the workforce for a good while now.  Back in the Obama years, conservatives used to mock (rightly) the government’s unemployment figures for leaving out the labor force participation rate, which was pretty paltry back then (something like only 60-70% of working aged people were actually actively looking for work; the unemployment rate was based off that portion, rather than all working aged adults).

Now we’re in the midst of what the mainstream media is calling “The Great Resignation,” with millions of Americans quitting their jobs.  That’s due in part, I believe, to the generous government largesse during The Age of The Virus.  We’ve all gotten a taste of easy money—inflation be damned!—and now we want the gravy train to keep on rollin’.

But I think it goes deeper than that.  My generation in particular—prone to wokery, alas—legitimately has gotten the short end of the economic stick, entering the workforce during a recession, saddled with billions in student loans and overcredentialed.  Granted, some of those problems were our fault—we fell for the siren song of expensive degrees—but we were largely following the advice that had worked for our parents’ generation.

Understandably, many of my peers did not want to go back to waiting tables and pouring coffee for strangers—or going back to other thankless jobs.  Not all of those folks are deadbeats or mooches—some of them are just worn out.

Regardless, the government’s sticky hands are in all of this mess (for example, college tuition is so astronomically high because the government will keep extending loans to anybody to get them to go to college, even if that person isn’t going to earn much with his degree).  Work is annoying, stressful, and demanding—but doing it makes us better people.

With that, here is 26 May 2021’s “Disincentives to Work“:

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Beethoven’s Routine

Long-time readers know that I love Beethoven (particularly his Sixth Symphony, the “Pastoral”).

Readers also might know that I keep a fairly busy schedule.  Doing so requires sticking to routine, but that’s not always my strong suit.  My mind tends to jump from one task to another, but I find that writing out a detailed “to-do” list and crossing it off helps me to focus in on a task for extended periods of time.

When I really get into something—working on a new collection of piano miniatures, grading papers, or writing blog posts—I can focus in for hours, and often do that.  But working into that flow state takes time and, more importantly, motivation.  It’s the latter that I have been lacking the past week, a combination of end-of-the-school-year exhaustion and a renewed interest in Civilization VI.

So I thought it’d be interesting during this winding down season—when my own routine is about to change to the more leisurely pace of summertime—to look at Beethoven’s daily routine, care of YouTube channel Inside the Score.

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Shortages

Everyone reading this post has noticed their grocery and gas bills shoot up over the past few months.  These are not the result of the war in The Ukraine, despite the mewling protestations of the Biden Administration to the contrary.  In part, they are the result of extended lockdowns during The Age of The Virus, and the subsequent disruption to the world’s “just-in-time” production model.  Shutting everything down immediately probably didn’t do much to stop the spread of The Virus, but it definitely stopped the spread of goods, and the production thereof.

But these shortages seemed largely academic until recently.  Sure, you’d hear about them here and there, and it was impossible to buy toilet paper for awhile, but other than a few panic-induced shortages, you could pretty much get what you needed, even if you had to pay double for it.

Now, for the first time since the very early days of The Age of The Virus, I’m getting seriously concerned about looming shortages—and not just a few missing luxury items from store shelves (not that toilet paper is a luxury item, but there are always substitutes for that), but the basic necessities of life.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Worst Films: #6: Elf (2003)

We’re back with another of Ponty’s picks for the worst films of all time.  As always, Ponty delivers an interesting choice, this time for #6:  the Christmas film Elf (2003).

Elf is one of those movies I’ve never seen in its entirety, but I know about all-too-well.  It seems that every girl I’ve ever met loves this movie, but not just with some yuletide enthusiasm; they act like it’s the greatest Christmas film ever made.

I don’t know why that is.  Is it because women are incredibly social creatures, and bandwagon about everything remotely popular?  Is it because of the story about a son meeting his deadbeat dad and falling in love with a hipster?  Or is it just harmlessly funny, the kind of non-edgy humor women tend to prefer?

Whatever the reason, it makes me dislike the movie more, perhaps channeling the contrarian curmudgeon inside of me.

Needless to say, I’m with Ponty 100% on this one.

With that, here is Ponty’s review of 2003’s Elf:

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Lazy Sunday CXLVI: Friends, Part IX

It’s been fun going back through the old Supporting Friends Friday posts (well, for me, at least; it seems to be a bit of a dud with readers, but Sunday is always a slow day for traffic), but I’m particularly excited for this weekend’s ninth (!) retrospective.  It includes three of my favorite Internet friends, all on one compact disc:

Cheers to these good friends.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: The Ministry of Truth

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Apologies to subscribers for not getting this piece posted last week as promised.  After celebrating a lady friend’s graduation most of the weekend, I was scrambling Saturday and Sunday to take care of other posts and putting together exams.  I also overindulged in Civilization VI on Sunday night, so there’s that.

About a month ago, the Biden Administration announced the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board, an Orwellian appendage to the already Orwellian Department of Homeland Security.  After a wave of backlash, DHS is backing down temporarily, putting a “pause” on its plans to create the board.

That’s reason to celebrate, but it’s cold comfort.  I have little doubt that the Biden Administration will attempt to impanel this board as soon as it thinks it can get away with it.

The very fact that Biden’s puppeteers think they could create such an organization—which, I think we all understand, will almost exclusively target conservatives and others with views contrary to the ruling regime—suggests their overconfidence in the security of their position, as well as their utter contempt for the rest of us.

If the situation were reversed, the Left would cry foul—and rightly so.  A government that actively proclaims certain language, speech, opinions, or news as “disinformation” is playing a very dangerous game with free speech.  Even if we knew the people in charge of such an organization were striving towards complete impartiality—if such a thing were even possible—the temptation would be incredibly strong for a corrupt or compromised president to bend the board to his will.

Of course, we know the board will be used as yet another bludgeon—a brutal pretext—with which to smash conservative and dissident voices in as many venues as possible.  Sure, there will be the “controlled opposition” voices, but the rest of us will find ourselves in a bad spot, indeed.

That’s why it’s imperative we continue to ridicule the government for even dreaming up such an institution.

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