More Mountain Musings

I made it back from my weekend trip to the mountains near Burnsville, North Carolina.  I slammed that SubscribeStar Saturday post out after being up since 5:30 AM, two hundred miles of driving, and a full day of family fun in Asheville, so I skimped on some details, even if I hit the main points I wanted to address.

It was a very rushed trip, with my girlfriend and I departing around 11 AM Sunday to take in some sights before rushing back to prepare for our busy workweeks.  We managed to spend a little time in Burnsville, which is named for Captain Otway Burns, a sailor and hero of the War of 1812.  A statue of Captain Burns, erected in 1909, stands in the town square, with an inscription that reads, “He Guarded Well Our Seas, Let Our Mountains Honor Him.”

From there, we headed into the mountains, eventually reaching the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Our destination was Mount Mitchell State Park, which provides easy access to the summit of Mount Mitchell.  Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains, and the highest in the eastern continental United States.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: 9-11

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.

Yesterday I launched Five Dollar Friday, a series of 2020 election series posts for $5 a month and higher subscribers.  Just another perk for my subscribers.

Nineteen years ago yesterday, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners, crashing them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and—thanks to the bravery of Americans aboard Flight 93—a field in Pennsylvania.  2977 Americans lost their lives that day, with another 25,000 injured in the aftermath.

I was a junior in high school when the attacks occurred.  My classmates and I first heard about it during trigonometry class with our ancient math teacher, one of those public school double-dippers who was pulling a pension but still teaching (to her credit, she was a good math teacher).  The psychology teacher from across the hall—a large, red-faced woman—burst into the room, blubbering, “They’ve attacked the Pentagon!”

To my shame, the class erupted in laughter.  We weren’t laughing because we thought it was good news—like those Muslims partying on rooftops and those public school kids in New York cheering at the destruction.  We laughed because it was so absurd (it didn’t help that a very rotund, hysterical woman shouted it hysterically).  America, attacked?  Who would do something so foolish?  It was so beyond our comprehension, we couldn’t believe it.

As the day wore on, we realized pretty quickly that something terrible had happened.  I don’t remember if we watched news footage during the day, but we were not sent home early.  Indeed, we had marching band practice that afternoon.  But there were real fears:  would terrorists attempt an attack on the Savannah River Site, where we used to process tritium for nuclear weapons?

My dad was in Pennsylvania at the time at a work conference.  Of course, Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania, and all air travel was shut down (my German teacher commented on how it was probably the first time since the rise of commercial aviation that no aircraft were in the skies).  Fortunately, he was safe, and road the rails back to South Carolina.  My grandparents were out in the Southwest, and rented a Toyota Camry to drive cross-country (they went on to purchase the vehicle).

In the coming days, we came to find out it was the work of radical Islamic terrorists.  I recall a conversation with friends in which I suggested we ban any travel and immigration from any countries with a majority Muslim population until we got this terrorism threat worked out.  It wasn’t long after that President Bush started in with the “Islam is a religion of peace” nonsense, but there was a brief, albeit very mild, nativist flare-up (when the French refused to join us in the Iraq War, restaurants changed French fries to “freedom fries” on their menus).

It felt like our Pearl Harbor.

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Lazy Sunday LXXXI: Forgotten Posts, Volume V

It’s been a pretty busy Lazy Sunday for yours portly.  I helped my younger brother and his young family move last Saturday, and the ongoing relocation process continued with some small household items this afternoon.  The whole weekend has been pretty jam-packed with work of one kind or another, so I’m fairly beat—with another week of school ahead.

Regardless, that’s why this week’s Lazy Sunday is later than usual.  I’m still diving into posts from September 2019, which seemed to be a pretty rich vein for quality posts.  Here are some more of those posts:

  • Sanford Announces Presidential Bid” – I used to love Mark Sanford.  He was a pretty solid governor for SC, and stood boldly against expensive Medicaid expansion.  He was a colorful character, and a fairly consistent fiscal conservative.  But he fell in with the Never Trumpers.  He’s not wrong that the national debt is untenable, but… it’s grown beyond any amount we ever thought possible, and economic life rolls on.  We’re likely writing a promissory note that will be impossible to pay in the future, but the issue of the debt is so abstract and academic—and so removed from people’s daily realities—that it seems like a non-issue.  Sanford’s presidential bid failed swiftly due to extreme disinterest.
  • Tommy Robinson is Free!” – British patriot Tommy Robinson has endured two difficult, unjust prison sentences, one of which nearly killed him.  Because he’s spoken out so strongly against Muslims, he had to be held in solitary confinement to protect him from Muslim prison gangs (seems his warnings have some truth to them, if so many Muslims are in British prisons they can form gangs).  Many conservatives assumed his imprisonments were means by which the British authorities could indirectly assassinate Robinson, silencing an important nationalist voice.  Fortunately, he survived—another victory for our side.
  • America’s Roman Roots” – This post looked at an op-ed from a Dr. Brandop-ed from a Dr. Brand about the influence of the Roman Republic on America’s Founding Fathers.  The Roman Republic, like our American one, emerged after a group of patriotic elites overthrew the ruling monarchy, and established the most successful, enduring Republic of the ancient world.  Sometimes I think now America is more like the Roman Empire than the Roman Republic, but that would make sense, too—similar roots might yield similar results.  Let’s how the spirit of republicanism can be revived.

Well, that’s it for this delayed Lazy Sunday!  I may continue the deep dive with more “Forgotten Posts,” or I’ll go back to some thematic posts.  We’ll see—next Sunday!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: Remembering 1519

We’ve been back at school for one week now, and so far things seem to be going well, albeit very busy.  We’re slowly settling into a groove with our various safety protocols, and most of the schedule changes are solidified.  That should make for much smoother sailing going forward.

I’m mostly teaching music courses this year, but I still have a couple of sections of Honors US History.  That means it’s another year of telling the “grand narrative of American history.”  My main goal as a history teacher is to make sure students receive a balanced, analytical telling of our great nation’s history.  That means that while I point out the atrocities of, say, the Spanish conquistadors, I also discuss the wickedness of the Aztecs, who engaged in daily human sacrifices.  That the Spanish built a cathedral atop the old Aztec altar to their false gods is a fitting bit of divine judgment.

Of course, as an American I’m more interested in English colonization and settlement in British North America—what would become the United States—than I am in the vast empire of New Spain.  We should be getting into Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth Rock today or tomorrow, and I’m quite excited about that.  For me, that’s when the story really starts cooking.  Naturally, the clash of Spanish conquistadors and Aztec and Inca warriors is cool, but those first saplings of a free country stir my heart.

All that said, this week’s TBT looks back at those cool conquistadors.  Here is 3 September 2019’s “Remembering 1519“:

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Lazy Sunday LXXX: Forgotten Posts, Volume IV

We’re continuing our dive into the B-sides and deep cuts of the TPP oeuvre.  For this Lazy Sunday, I decided to check out September 2019.

Whoa!  What a gold mine of hidden gems and nuggets, forgotten in the tide of events.  I didn’t realize how many good posts I generate during that first full month of the 2019-2020 school year.  There’s enough for a couple of weeks, but here are three forgotten posts to tide you over until next Sunday:

  • Remembering 1519” – With The New York Times‘s 1619 Project all the rage—a retelling of American history in which racism and slavery  are the only pertinent factors in our grand national story—this post examined a piece from The Federalist about Hernan Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs in 1519.  Rather than framing it as evil Europeans callously destroying the peaceful natives (any fifth grader can tell you the Aztecs were anything but peaceful), he flips the script to something closer to the Truth:  the Catholic Christian Spaniards toppled a wicked regime built on human sacrifice and false gods.  The Spanish weren’t angels, but they destroyed a great evil.
  • Saturn: The Creepiest Planet?” – Quora inspired this post, and the site has now become a favorite of mine for people smarmily answering astronomy questions.  The Solar System has always fascinated me, and Saturn in particular is alluring—so mysterious and regal, with its massive rings.  I’ve even written a song, “The Rings of Saturn,” which I will hopefully record one day.  The Quora post in question asked “What is the creepiest planet in our solar system?”; the answer, per a recording of Saturn’s electromagnetic waves, is Saturn.  The embedded video to that recording is now, sadly, dead, but I’m sure some intrepid searching could turn it up.
  • A Tale of Two Cyclists” – One of my more frivolous and cantankerous posts, this short screed denounces “spandex-festooned cyclists riding in the middle of a busy lane during rush hour.”  Yet my sympathies are entirely with the second cyclist, “a black man of indeterminate age…. wearing street clothes, and riding what appeared to be a fairly rundown bike.”  I have no problem with folks who use a bike as their primary means of transportation, lacking any other options.  But these large groups of “cyclists” who ostentatiously hog entire lanes at 5 PM drive me batty.

That’s it for this Sunday!  We’ll continue our exploration for at least another week, as there are some more goodies from September 2019 to explore.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Conventions

Congratulations to Laura Loomer for her victory in the Florida US Congressional District 21 Republican primary last night.  She’ll now face off against incumbent Democrat Lois Frankel on 3 November 2020.  It’s a very blue district, but if anyone can win it, it’s LoomerConsider donating to her campaign to flip FL-21!

The Democratic Party kicked off its virtual convention Monday evening.  They’ve dubbed it “D20,” which makes me think of Dungeons & Dragons.  That (perhaps) unintentionally symbolizes the basement-dwelling, anxiety-ridden nerdiness of the modern Democratic Party.

Yesterday’s Rasmussen Number of the Day on Ballotpedia observed that it’s been forty years “since the last meaningful national convention.”  That was a reference to the 1980 Democratic National Convention, in which incumbent President Jimmy Carter faced a convention floor challenge from Senator Teddy Kennedy.  Carter had enough delegates to win the nomination outright, but Kennedy challenged the convention rules in an attempt to force a floor vote.

Kennedy’s attempt failed, and Carter won the nomination with 64% of the delegates.  For the vice presidential nomination, bitter pro-Kennedy delegates skipped out on the vote; those that did show up scattered their votes between various nominees.  Nevertheless, the incumbent Vice President Walter Mondale still walked away with nearly 73% of the delegates.

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Trump’s Pages of Accomplishments

Looking at national polls and predictions, it’s easy to get discouraged about President Trump’s reelection prospects.  Even with Joe Biden losing his mind, and the pick of a radical, authoritarian Kamala Harris as his running mate, “Sleepy Joe” is managing to stay up by hunkering down.

On our side there’s grumbling that Trump hasn’t done enough—on immigration, on law and order—and those aren’t entirely warrantless grumbles.  Republicans squandered—perhaps intentionally—an opportunity to fund the construction of the border wall while they controlled both chambers of Congress.  John McCain pompously and vindictively voted to keep the odious Affordable Care Act in place, a clear parting shot at Trump.  Trump did not seem to offer a robust response to the CHAZ/CHOP fiasco, but is now belatedly defending federal property in Portland, Oregon.

Those critiques aside, it’s worth remembering what Trump has accomplished—and he wants you to be reminded.  That’s why he gave Breitbart a six-page document of his achievements.  They are substantial—and make him one of the greatest presidents of the last fifty years.

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Passing of Bernard Bailyn

Last week, legendary historian of colonial America Bernard Bailyn passed away at the age of 97, making his own voyage into the next life.  Blogger buddy Gordon Sheaffer at Practically Historical wrote a brief but effective tribute to Bailyn earlier this week.

As Sheaffer wrote Monday:

No other scholar impacted the study of the American Revolution more than Bailyn. His masterwork, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, continues to challenge readers 50 years after it was published. Bailyn was able to express the unique qualities of American civilization without politicizing the history with talk of exceptionalism.

I have not read—to my great shame and discredit—The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, but I have read Bailyn’s The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction, a much shorter work that serves as an introduction to a larger study on the settlement of British North America.  The book is so good, and gives such a flavor for the various peoples that settled in the original thirteen colonies, I once assigned it as summer reading for my very first AP US History class back in 2011.  It’s an accessible book, but it was a bit much for rising high school sophomores.

That said, I’ve been searching for my copy this morning in my classroom, without any luck.  Hopefully it will turn up soon.  My dad and I were talking about Bailyn’s death, as there was a small bit about it in the newspaper, and he expressed interest in reading it.  I also wouldn’t mind rereading it, as I haven’t done so in nearly a decade.

Even so, bits of it stick out to me.  Near the end of the book, Bailyn briefly explores the odd religious sects, mostly German, that came to the colonies.  I distinctly recall him writing about a self-proclaimed prophet or sage living in a cave in Pennsylvania.  There were multiple sects and utopian movements and cults and denominations popping up in British North America during the First Great Awakening, which reached its peak sometime in the 1740s and greatly influenced the American Revolution.

In an age of toppling statues and lurid efforts to erase our national history and faith (to be replaced with… what?), Bailyn’s works take on increased importance.  Let us hope he isn’t summarily cancelled like everything else that is good, decent, and doesn’t inherently hate America.

Lazy Sunday LXXIII: Forgotten Posts, Volume II

It’s another Lazy Sunday dive into some of my deep cuts—the forgotten or neglected posts of yesteryear.  As a reminder, here’s my loose criteria for selecting these posts, as spelled out last Sunday:

That’s all a long way of saying that I’m doing some deep dives for an indeterminate number of Sundays into some forgotten posts.  These are posts that don’t immediately spring to my mind when I’m referencing my own work.  These posts may or may not have had high or low hit counts; they are just posts that don’t linger strongly in my memory.  They’re the red-headed stepchildren of my churning mind.

The following three posts all date from Summer 2018, an important summer for me:  it’s when I relaunched the blog on WordPress, and when my old apartment flooded for the second time, prompting my ultimate move to Lamar:

  • Breaking: Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” – I used to do these “breaking” news posts periodically—dashing off a couple hundred words about some major development.  I was perhaps overly optimistic about Trump’s peace talks in Korea, but while they might not have ended the Korean War’s long cease-fire, they definitely calmed down tensions between the US and North Korea.
  • George Will’s Self-Destruct Sequence” – The Never Trump phenomenon was gasping for air in 2018, but it still had some loyal adherents (and still does, if you check out National ReviewThe Dispatch, and The Bulwark, the last of which is blatantly progressive, despite its claims to be a conservative site).  One of the first major figures to succumb publicly and wildly to the disease was George Will, the long-time WaPo columnist and tweedy neocon.  Will argued that Republicans in Congress should be voted out to avoid giving Trump dictatorial powers—a ludicrous obsession with the Left and the Never Trumpers, and completely deleterious to the future of the nation.  Sure, we Republicans might be the “Stupid Party” sometimes, stupidity in the highest halls of power is generally preferable to the “Evil Party” of intentional wickedness.  Now we have so-called conservatives plumping for Joe Biden on similarly faulty premises.  Yeesh!
  • HSAs are A-Okay” – I’m a big fan of health savings accounts, or HSAs, thanks in large part to my younger brother’s financial wizardry.  Health savings accounts allow account holders to deposit funds that can be used to cover future, out-of-pocket medical expenses.  Since my cut-rate insurance comes with a hefty $6750 annual deductible, squirreling away cash into my HSA helps in the event of a catastrophic injury or health crisis.  But the real beauty of an HSA is that the deposited funds can be invested in mutual funds and grow in value—tax-free.  They’re the ultimate investment vehicle, and you can save medical receipts for years before using them to withdraw HSA funds (if you use an emergency fund to cover medical expenses on the front-end, the HSA funds can grow unmolested until you decide to use them).

That’s it for another edition of Lazy Sunday—one of the last truly lazy ones for some time, as I report back to school tomorrow morning.  Classes resume 20 August 2020, so I still have about eleven days to prepare for the return of students.

Now I’m off to tickle the ivories for morning service.  Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments: