Memorable Monday IV: Happy Labor Day [2020]!

It’s Labor Day 2020 here in the United States, and it’s been a productive weekend for yours portly.  My girlfriend and I completely recreated my weed-strewn flower beds, and I felt like my parents—wandering around the garden centers of Lowe’s and Home Depot looking for cypress mulch and discount flowers.

Today, I put down some more mulch, and the beds are looking quite nice.  I also swept out my barn—filled with the corpses of roaches caught in the latest defogger blast—and did some light vehicle maintenance.  The in-cabin air filter in my little Nissan Versa Note SV desperately needed replacement, and I can now breathe easier knowing a clean filter is in place.  I vacuumed out the car, too, and took the opportunity to hose down its filters and various components, which are now drying outside.

Looking back to my Labor Day post for 2019, it’s striking to note the difference in my activities.  That Labor Day I played video games; this Labor Day, I’ve been a productive adult American.  Granted, I was sick, but perhaps I’m finally growing up.

Regardless, the rest of today will be spent relaxing a bit, as well as doing some planning and grading for the short school week ahead.  Next weekend I plan to hit the yard with a new battery-powered string trimmer, pending its shipment and weather permitting.  It’s interesting how I will put these necessary home improvement projects off for weeks, but when I finally get to them, I don’t want to stop!  Such is the joy of homeownership.

With that, here is last year’s Labor Day post, “Happy Labor Day 2019!“:

It’s Labor Day here in the United States, a day to celebrate the hardworking men and women that make our country great.  Yes, I’m sure a holiday engineered by labor unions (like the radical nineteenth-century union the Knights of Labor) has some seedy progressive origins, but I think we can all appreciate a Monday off.

It’s been a pleasant weekend here at the Casa de Portly.  All the ambitious plans to grade and catch up on work predictably flew out the window, and I’ve gotten loads of much-needed rest.  My hacking cough is virtually gone, and I’m feeling rested and relaxed—a rare sensation for yours portly.

I also rediscovered a fun little turn-based strategy game that has devoured some of my time this weekend:  Delve Deeper, from Lunar Giant.  You manage a team of five dwarfs as they “delve deeper” (get it?) into critter-infested mines, all while competing against other, AI-controlled teams to mine and loot the most treasure.  It’s simple and not exceptionally deep, but it’s quite fun.

I’ve also played some Left 4 Dead 2 with the boys, and watched the heartbreaking finale of the USC-UNC game.  Knocking off top-seeded Alabama in a couple of weeks is looking less and less likely.  Ugh…—but Go Cocks!

That’s it for today.  We’ll be back to history, politics, and the culture wars tomorrow.  For now, enjoy some downtime with your family, and try not to think about the collapse of Western civilization for at least one three-day weekend.

Your portly,

TPP

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Counting Blessings

After writing yesterday’s blog post about our diminished prosperity, I was quite upset.  I am an emotional sort, given my brooding artistic temperament, and I should know by now that complaining about money and the state of the world will only work me up—or, perhaps, down—into a blue funk (or, occasionally, a purple rage).

So today’s post is meant to be a yellow counterpoint.  It’s easy for me to fixate on negatives.  That’s pretty much the nature of blogging and commentating about politics and culture.  And while I am optimistic for the future, I am a declinist:  I can’t help but notice that much of culture is, at best, a stagnant swamp (hiding away the occasional orchid); at worst, it’s swamp draining into a desert.

But enough that.  Today’s post is about counting blessings.

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Lazy Sunday LV: Animals

Coronavirus dominates the news, which makes the news both frightening and boring.  Reporting on The Virus is all over the map.  The media can’t even cut President Trump some slack during a national emergency, such as their egregious misreporting on the efficacy of hydroxichloroquine.

Yes, yes, we know that there haven’t been clinical trials, but hydroxichloroquine is a safe, well-established drugs.  It also bears remembering that most medical doctors are, essentially, high-functioning autists:  they can’t help but sacrifice the good to the perfect.  Thus, their reasoning is, “Yes, it seems to be working very well, but we can’t know for sure scientifically without years of testing.”  Meanwhile, people are suffering, but the anti-malaria drug has proven—anecdotally—to be hugely successful.

We’re Americans:  if it works, it works, even if it’s not the theoretically ideal solution.  That seems to be the divide between our elites, who exist in a world of abstractions (because they can afford to indulge in those abstractions) and the rest of us, who live in the earthiness of Reality.

But I digress.  With the persistent incantations of “social distancing” and “flattening the curve,” I’ve been casting about for some interesting blogging material.  This last week I kept going to animals, for some reason, so why not do the truly lazy thing and just feature the posts about them?

I am no great lover of animals, but I don’t dislike them, as long as they aren’t in my house.  I’ve grown more fond of cats and dogs as I’ve gotten older, though, and I’ve always liked fish, lizards, frogs, and the like.  I even wrote an entire digital EP about unicorns.  I even commissioned one of my former students—a true lover of animals—to do the artwork (I think I paid her $20—too little for the quality) for each song (here, here, here, and here), and my “tour” in 2019 I dubbed “The Year of the Panther.”

All that said, here are some primal posts for your enjoyment:

  • New Mustang is a Sign of the Times” – This post isn’t about animals, per se, but the name of this iconic American vehicle is animalistic.  I’m stretching here, so just roll with it.  The occasion for this post (and last week’s TBT) was Ford’s disastrous plans to make a muscle car into an electric hatchback.  I love hatchbacks and fuel efficiency, but let’s stop taking one thing and making them into another.  It’s like when they make James Bond into a black demiqueer woman.  I don’t care if creators make some interesting new character with those racial and gender qualities, but don’t take James Bond—who I think is supposed to be Scottish—and make him something he isn’t.  Imagine if we made Othello into a white woman.  Come now.
  • Albino Giraffes Poached” – This story is truly sad, as it involves the cold-blooded murder (presumably; maybe some tribal had to eat to survive) of two albino giraffes.  I make some wild accusations against the Chinese, so it’s got everything—beautiful creatures, poaching, and casting broad aspersions against an entire group of people.
  • Tarantulas and the Hygge” – My general philosophy towards spiders is live and let live, with the caveat—“you live as long as you stay away from me.”  I don’t mind a little spider hanging out in some dusty corner of my house, eating up whatever lower-order insects shouldn’t be around.  I don’t mind them hanging around outside (that’s even better!), gobbling up all the nasty things.  But when I look at spiders, I have to imagine they are a form of extraterrestrial life—few of God’s creatures appears and acts more alien than do arachnids.

    That said, this post looked at the piece “Tarantulas: Masters of the Art of Hygge,” from the website Tarantula Heaven.  I’ve learned a lot about tarantulas over the past couple of weeks, and they are truly remarkable creatures.  I’m not going to get one, to be sure, but I have a greater appreciation for them and their various arachnid cousins than I once did.

That’s it for this Lazy Sunday.  Be sure to have your pets spayed and neutered—and don’t let your tarantula out of its tank.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: New Mustang is a Sign of the Times

From giraffes to tarantulas, the unofficial theme this week has been weird animals.  Other than my “Christmas Eve” blog post in 2019, I haven’t written much about animals, so this week has been a surprising turn even for me.  Politics has gotten stale again now that the Democratic primaries are on hold or delayed, and being cooped up inside has got me diving into some odd topics, apparently.

So, in keeping with the animalistic theme, I went to the closest post I could find to shoehorn into it:  my November 2019 piece on the new eco-friendly Ford Mustang.

Talk about some perspective.  Life was so good and plague-free just four months ago, I could gripe unironically about Ford ruining a classic car, as if that were a major problem.

Still, Ford should know better than to make a classic muscle car-for-the-masses into an electric hatchback.  That’s fruitier than Pete Buttigieg reading to children at a public library.

Hopefully we’ll soon be feeling the wind whip through our hair again as we rocket down the Interstate in our virtue-signalling e’Stang.  In the meantime, here’s 2019’s “New Mustang is a Sign of the Times“:

Before diving into today’s post, I’d like to give a YUGE “thank you” to Nebraska Energy Observer for reblogging yesterday’s post.  His commentary on my post and Leslie Alexander’s moving personal essay adds greatly to the discussion of modern alienation, and gives me some encouragement in these dark days.

Everything awesome goes to crap.  That’s the thought I had yesterday when reading fridrix’s brief post lamenting the new electronic Ford Mustang, the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Electric cars are fine, although environuts shouldn’t delude themselves that driving these battery-powered vehicles are saving the environment (it’s pedantic to point out, but batteries require a great deal of mining to get the metals necessary to build them, and the electricity to charge them comes from coal-, oil-, and nuclear-power, so it’s not like you’re truly making an end-run around fossil fuels).  But a Ford Mustang shouldn’t be an  electric car; at least, it shouldn’t be one that looks like this iteration.

Ford has taken an iconic muscle car and turned it into a limp-wristed hatchback.  Look, I drive a thirteen-and-a-half-year old Dodge Caravan with dents and collapsing headliner, but I don’t pretend its four-cylinder engine and stocky frame make it a sports car (the 2006 Dodge Caravan actually has a fairly sleek design compared to modern minivans).  I like hatchbacks just fine; they seem practical and utilitarian—the exact opposite of what a Ford Mustang should be!

This mania for political correctness and efficiency is infecting every aspect of our society and our lives.  Yet another legendary brand has fallen to the fleeting faddism of our present age.  A car like a Ford Mustang—much like the Dodge Charger—should be a gloriously wasteful (in terms of fuel efficiency) affair, a blasphemous testament to the bravado of the engineers and the driver.

That’s what makes these cars cool.  They’re powerful, they’re in-your-face, and they’re all American—like Chuck Norris or the Die Hard movies.

Now, just like everything else masculine and dangerous, we’ve neutered this vehicle into a yuppie dad car.  Journalists are celebrating the fact that the vehicle wasn’t worse than what it is.  I can only imagine the whipped husband picking up groceries for his overbearing wife, escaping the oppression of his personal and professional life in fleeting moments of ecstasy while listening to classic rock in his… electric hatchback.

If—when?—I go through my midlife crisis, I want a car that gets 15 miles-per-gallon or less, with some kind of awesome and/or mythical animal on the hood—which covers a thunderous, gas-guzzling V8 engine—and that will wake up the neighbors when I drive in from late-night photo shoots for Hot Rod Magazine.

Well, nothing lasts forever, even cold November Mustangs.

The Boogie Woogie Flu

Don’t let the title of today’s post fool you:  I’m not going to write about the coronavirus today.  I’m actually enjoying the relative freedom and flexibility of distance education, sipping car dealership coffee while I wait for my 2017 Nissan Versa Note to get a transmission flush and a belt and some wheel bearings replaced, all with appropriate social distance between me and the other people getting their cars fixed.

But in these plague-riddled times, I couldn’t resist this charming little Quora post about another, funkier plague:  the Strasbourg “Dancing Plague” of 1518.  Not that there’s anything charming about dancing yourself to hell, but it sounds a lot more fun than cloistering alone in your house for two weeks.

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Birth(day), Death, and Taxes

“Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes,” the old saying goes.  But we are also born, those of us fortunate enough not to fall prey to the abortion industry.  Today marks my thirty-fifth birthday.  I celebrated by paying $162.57 in vehicle property taxes to Darlington County, South Carolina.

Yesterday, I purchased a new vehicle, my first new car in thirteen-and-a-half years, and only the third I’ve ever owned.  It’s a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV.  The other two were a 1988 Buick Park Avenue Electra, which I bought from my older brother for $800, after my grandparents gave it to him one year, and a 2006 Dodge Caravan, which those same grandparents gave to me as a college graduation gift (after the Buick was totaled when a lady ran a yield sign and smashed into me).

The Buick is long gone, but I kept the Dodge.  I figure it’s worth more to me as stuff-hauler than I would have gotten in trade-in value.  Of course, that means maintaining insurance on both vehicles, and paying taxes on each.

Well, I awoke today to the news that our military assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleiman last night.  When I first read that Soleiman was “assassinated,” I was picturing a fate similar to the death of the “austere religious scholar,” the ISIS guy, al-Baghdadi: covert operatives swooping in under cover of darkness, swiftly and surely relieving the general of his life.

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Cybertruck

Last week, troubled electric automaker Tesla announced Elon Musk’s latest brainchild, the Cybertruck.  The Cybertruck—the name of which I am sure is meant to evoke the dystopian sci-fi genre cyperpunk—features a rolled steel and titanium exoskeleton that looks like a Nintendo 64 polygonal rendering of an automobile.

It’s unorthodox design aside, I honestly can’t make up my mind on whether or not I like this vehicle.  Last week I lamented the new electric Mustang, not because it is electric, but because it’s a hatchback.  The title of that piece was “New Mustang is a Sign of the Times,” and my point was that everything awesome seems to be deteriorating.

Does the Tesla Cybertruck fit that trend?  Is it a horrible monstrosity?  Or is it a daringly original vehicle?

I’m not sure.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Shrinkflation

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

When Americans experience a sense that the world we live in is not what it should be, we’re often scolded for not being thankful for all of our material abundance.  Indeed, we are extremely blessed to live in an age with plenty of food, infrastructure, and novelties, and we accordingly enjoy a standard of living beyond the wildest dreams of most of our forebears.

That said, there’s a nagging sense that, for all that abundance, things are amiss.  There’s a strong tug of to that undercurrent among conservatives today.  Material abundance is great, but it hasn’t addressed deeper moral problems or battles in the culture wars, because those problems aren’t materialist in nature—they can’t be.

Even within the plane of the material world, things seem a bit off.  That was the crux of my post about the new Mustang, a redesign so beyond the scope of the name “Mustang” that it’s ludicrous to call it as such.  Everywhere we look, there seems to be disintegration and decay—of value, of standards, even of size.

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

New Mustang is a Sign of the Times

Before diving into today’s post, I’d like to give a YUGE “thank you” to Nebraska Energy Observer for reblogging yesterday’s postHis commentary on my post and Leslie Alexander’s moving personal essay adds greatly to the discussion of modern alienation, and gives me some encouragement in these dark days.

Everything awesome goes to crap.  That’s the thought I had yesterday when reading fridrix’s brief post lamenting the new electronic Ford Mustang, the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Electric cars are fine, although environuts shouldn’t delude themselves that driving these battery-powered vehicles are saving the environment (it’s pedantic to point out, but batteries require a great deal of mining to get the metals necessary to build them, and the electricity to charge them comes from coal-, oil-, and nuclear-power, so it’s not like you’re truly making an end-run around fossil fuels).  But a Ford Mustang shouldn’t be an  electric car; at least, it shouldn’t be one that looks like this iteration.

Read More »