Phone it in Friday XXVII: Virtual Learning Hurricane Holiday

Hurricane Ian has been battering Florida, and South Carolina should be experiencing the effects of said battering today, albeit to a vastly diminished degree.  The weather is calling for high winds and lots of rain, but nothing that seems (to me, anyway) particularly dangerous.  I just wouldn’t recommend hanging out underneath any old trees.

Naturally, the slightest degree of inclemency prompts the shuttering of all operations for those of us in the cushier fields like education.  Fear of the “L Word”—Liability—means my administration has opted to close the school today, lest some witless teen driver find himself, wheels spinning, in a watery ditch.

Of course, in this post-The Virus era—here in The Days After The Age of The Virus—there are no longer inclement weather “holidays,” as there were in The Before Times, in the Long, Long Ago.  Now we can hop seamlessly online, teaching and learning from the comfort of our couches.

Read More »

TBT: The Weather

Hurricane Ian is swirling about, sending everything and everyone into a tizzy (folks in Florida, please be safe).  It’s also thrown a windy wrench into my schedule, which was already planned down to the minute for nearly every day this week.

Well, no use crying over spilt rainwater.  I’m thankful for the relative safety of the inland, and that we live in a time when we have some advanced warning about the impending meteorological apocalypses that routinely batter us.

This hurricane aside, we’ve been enjoying some pleasant weather here in South Carolina—it almost feels like fall!  The mornings have been crisp and cool, and even required a light jacket one day last week.  Here’s hoping the sweater weather descends soon.

Here’s hoping my readers in Florida and along the coastal regions of the Southeast are safe.  Audre, be sure to batten down the hatches.

With that, here is 29 September 2021’s “The Weather“:

Read More »

Suspend…

After putting out my appeal for contributors last week, Audre Myers immediately answered the call.  Within a couple of hours, I had a piece from her in my inbox—and what a fun piece it is!

Audre is a woman of many talents and interests; one of those interests, I’m happy to report, is Bigfoot.  While I’m not going to claim that Bigfoot exists, this site is pro-Bigfoot, in the sense that any musings about our aloof cryptozoological friend will always find a welcome home here at The Portly Politico.  I even floated the idea of Audre doing a regular post about the hairy beast, but she said he’s been quiet lately.

Until now, it seems!  Idaho has more than potatoes, Mormons, Californians, and Mariella Hunt—it might also have a muscular man-ape roaming about!

With that, here is Audre’s piece, in which she will ask you to “Suspend…”:

Read More »

Bible Study Update II

An eager commenter on my original “Bible Study” post prompted me to give a second brief update on my daily Bible reading (I wrote the first update back in July 2022).  Apparently, my humble daily regimen inspired the reader to establish a schedule of her own.  To that, all I can say is, “To God Be the Glory!”

That said, it’s satisfying to know that the words I scribble down on this self-indulgent blog do, indeed, reach people.  There are probably fewer things more pleasurable to a writer than to find that his words have made some impact on his readers, and the pleasure is enhanced when it’s a stranger.  We all understand that we influence those close to us, for good or for ill, because we can see the effects more clearly.  But the idea that a stranger might be reading our words is a small sign that we’re expanding beyond our immediate familial and social circles to wider audiences.  It feels good.

But I digress.  This post is about studying the Bible, not tooting my own saxophone; pride, after all, is a sin.

Read More »

Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Best Films: #9: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Ponty has been plugging away at this Top Ten Best Films, and as I predicted, he’s suffering from an embarrassment of riches.  Doing the bad films was difficult in some ways, but if you call a “bad” film wrong, it’s no big deal—no one would watch it, anyway.

Good films, while rarer, are still abundant enough to make the selection process difficult.  Just when you think you have a sense for your list, you’re reminded of some classic that you managed to forget in the depths of your memory hole.

That was my experience when reading Ponty’s #9 pick.  I love this film (which came out when I was in college), but somehow it had slipped my mind for consideration in my own list.  What a fool I was!  As Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote (to paraphrase, since I don’t feel like looking up the exact quotation): “We don’t need to be taught so much as we need to be reminded.”  So true!

Well, Ponty did an excellent job reminding me in this impressive review.

With that, here is Ponty’s review of 2004’s Shaun of the Dead:

Read More »

Lazy Sunday CLXIV: More Movies, Part XXVIII: Portly’s Worst Films, Part III

The long retrospective of the worst films ever is nearly over, which means after over six months of self-torture, we’ll finally be through rehashing these wretched films.

My #4, #3, and #2 picks are particularly accursed, and definitely deserve their spots so close to #1:

Wow, a depressing mix of bad films this week.  Maybe the worst films of all time—mine and Ponty’s respective #1 picks—next Sunday will ease the pain.  Or just double down on it.

Well, sometimes to escape the crevasse, we must descend deeper into it.  D’oh!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Busybodies

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

In casting about for a topic for this weekend’s edition of SubscribeStar Saturday, The Z Man’s latest podcase served as inspiration.  Entitled “Thinking About Athens,” the episode is an extended thought experiment on the nature of Athenian democracy, and the problem of generating consensus in a true democracy.  The problem becomes increasingly intractable the larger the group of participants becomes, to the point that “consensus” breaks down entirely, as everyone realizes that the groups that complain the most and take the firmest stances against compromise end up getting their way in order to maintain the “consensus.”  Yikes!

I often use the analogy of ordering pizza when illustrating this point to my students (usually in the context of the Articles of Confederation, America’s first governing document, which required unanimous consent of all States—each of which had an equal vote—to amend the Articles):  there is almost always at least one student who will not anything but plain cheese pizza.  Some students will only eat pizza with toppings.  Rarely, a student will not eat pizza at all.  But if found ourselves in a world in which ordering one kind of pizza were mandatory, the outcome would either be a.) ordering no pizza at all or b.) capitulating to the lame person who just wants a plain cheese pizza.  In either case, almost no one gets what they want.

Even if someone attempts to “opt-out” of the system, that is a threat to the consensus itself.  By attempting to abstain, those who demand conformity with the “consensus” react with suspicion—why won’t this weirdo eat pizza with us?  It’s not enough that someone might just want to do something else; we must be forced to be free.

I touched upon this topic in an essay from 27 February 2021, “Authoritarian Creep.”  To quote liberally from myself:

Something with which I struggle to wrap my mind around is the authoritarian impulse.  I’m not pretending I’m immune to this impulse—this desire to tell others how to live their lives, backing it up with the threat of force for non-compliance—but the older I get, what little appeal the tendency held continues to diminish.

What I struggle to comprehend is the apparent need to boss people around.  I understand needing to be authoritative with children and students—setting clear boundaries, understanding actions have consequences, molding the child to become a self-governing adult—but this desire to boss around perfect strangers is increasingly foreign to me.

This impulse manifests itself in virtually every facet of our lives.  It creeps in bit by bit.  Modest policy proposals and laws suddenly becomes weaponized Karenism, empowering authorities and otherwise normal people to swagger about with impunity, assured of the righteousness of their cause du jour.

Why do we want to control one another so much?

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Phone it in Friday XXVI: Unschooling with John Taylor Gatto

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about John Taylor Gatto, the teacher who rejected compulsory schooling and argued forcefully in favor of a true education, one unbounded from mass school schemes.  I was on a kick back in the spring of listening to his talks, but hadn’t listened to him much lately.

That is, until the YouTube Algorithm—may it be praised—tossed this video into my feed:

I know, I know—it’s nearly an hour long.  I don’t expect you to listen to it all now (please finish reading this blog post first), but if you’re in the car or warshing (as my girl would say) the dishes, put it on in the background.  It’s a must-listen.

Read More »

TBT^4: The Joy of Autumn

Today is the first day of autumn.  It’s about dang time!

Granted, I realize that autumn shows up on the calendar the same time every year.  Whether (weather?) or not it makes a meteorological appearance or not, however, is a bit dicey in South Carolina.  It’s very likely to be quite warm today—in the mid-nineties as of the time of this writing.  We’re enjoying some cooler, crisper mornings, with a bit lower humidity, but it’s still very much summer here in South Carolina.

Nevertheless, pumpkin spiced-everything is already in stores, so even if it feels like we’re about to attend a pool party, we can enjoy the tastes of autumn here.

Autumn is my favorite season, even though it is fleeting.  The period from Labor Day through Christmas is a blur of activity, with nary a weekend free for all the fall activities we see on television and in the movies.  Apple picking looks fun, but who has the time?

On the plus side, Halloween will be here soon.  It seems that folks have started decorating much earlier this year than usual—or have I missed something?  Some people had decorations up in August, which seems as blasphemous as hanging Christmas lights before Thanksgiving.

But I digress.  With that, here is 23 September 2022’s “TBT^2: The Joy of Autumn“:

Read More »