TBT^256: Happy Birthday, America!

On Monday, America celebrated its 246th birthday.  I don’t know what the word is for “250th” (bisesquicentennial?), but that will be fun when it arrives in 2026.  I’m still hoping to make it to the tricentennial in 2076, but I’m not holding my breath—I’ll be ninety-one-and-a-half (maybe I’ll blog about it—ha!)!  I also imagine the United States of that time will be as unrecognizable to us as the United States of today is unrecognizable to someone at the bicentennial, much less the centennial observance.

America is not in the best of times, but victories abound nonetheless.  Sure, prices are through the rough and shortages seem to be increasingly commonplace.  But babies have a chance at life now, and our most basic constitutional rights continue—for the time being—to be upheld, albeit imperfectly (we have what are essentially political prisoners wasting away in jail without a trial because they were invited to walk around the US Capitol Building).

Regardless, I’m proud to be an American, and I’m thankful to live in this country.  It’s not perfect, but it’s home.

With that, here is “TBT^16: Happy Birthday, America!“:

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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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TBT: Phone it in Friday VI: Valentine’s Day

Well, it’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but I thought it would be worth looking back to 2020’s Valentine’s Day post, which was mostly a collection of various blog posts and reflections on the holiday.

I’m still wondering how Jay Nordlinger gets to travel the world writing pithy little observations about violin concertos and the like.  How do I position myself to take his place when he finally retires or kicks the bucket?  Who else is going to critique all those free concerts in Vienna?

But I digress.  The Season of Love is upon us, and I suspect restaurants will be packed this weekend with lovers canoodling over their cannoli (or, in the case of the high number of breakups on Valentine’s Day than average, crying into their kishka).  Sounds like another weekend of frozen pizza and spaghetti for yours portly.

So, here’s some great stuff from better writers to celebrate your Valentine’s Day Weekend.  It’s 14 February 2020’s “Phone it in Friday VI: Valentine’s Day“:

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Amateur Prepping

The price of everything is going up, and I’m increasingly pessimistic about the long-term prospects for civilization (and, well, everything).  With the supply chain disruptions and our culture’s constant obsession with Grievance Studies, it doesn’t seem like anyone serious is in charge anymore, and it’s getting hard to get stuff.  People are sitting at home rather than working, further exacerbating the ongoing supply chain issues.

Anyone reading this blog is likely familiar with these problems.  Just talking about them, though, doesn’t do much to solve the problems.  Fortunately, there are some very basic things you can do to stock up and get yourself prepared for an emergency, if not the collapse of civilized society.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: The Stuff (1985)

Shudder continues to deliver up the bizarre and unusual, proving it’s well worth the price of admission for the streaming service.  This last week saw the service bring the 1985 film The Stuff to the service.

It’s an unusual horror flick that combines elements of consumer protection advocacy, mass media advertising, consumerism, ruthless business tactics, and addiction into a blob of creamy terror.

Indeed, the film is something like The Blob (1958) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) rolled into one:  a greedy corporation knowingly sells a dangerous product, which turns out to be a goopy white organism that entire consumes the very people consuming it.

So, essentially, the entire flick is a metaphor for consumerism and corporate greed run amok.

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Preserving Old Varieties

My local paper, the Darlington New & Press, features a number of editorial writers typical of the kind that get gigs writing human interest pieces for tiny small town papers:  local pastors writing brief devotionals; a guy griping about the things we all gripe about; an astronomer.  They all write in a similar, mildly folksy manner, which I’m sure appeals to the more advanced age of the paper’s readership.

One of their writers, Tom Poland, wrote a fascinating piece last week about rare heirloom vegetables, “Long-lost treasures and heirloom seeds.”  The piece tracks down the Bradford Watermelon, a watermelon variety thought to be extinct, but which survived on the land Nat Bradford inherited from his family.  The watermelon variety dwindled in popularity in spite of its sweet, superior flavor because the rind was too thin to survive bulk shipping.

After years of research into arcane newspaper clippings and agricultural history, Bradford discovered that the melons growing on his ancestral farm are, indeed, the legendary Bradford Watermelons.

To quote Poland quoting Bradford:

In Nat’s words, “The greatest watermelon to have come from the great age of watermelon breeding fell out of cultivation. Lost to the world, the melon lived on in the Bradford family farm fields. The last seeds on the planet of this wonderful melon were in a couple of mason jars.”

What a remarkable legacy—and a fortuitous one.  Heirloom varieties of many plants are enjoying increased interest lately as part of the current homesteading movement, as these varieties are often tastier than their supermarket, genetically-modified alternatives.

I suspect, too, that there is a certain joy in knowing that by planting these forgotten seeds, you are directly contributing to the survival of a variety.  There is a link to the past, and the agricultural experiments of our forebears.

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TBT^16: Happy Birthday, America!

Since 2018, I’ve been reblogging my original “Happy Birthday, America!” post, which dates back to 2016 and the old Blogger site.  Each year I add another layer of commentary to to the original post, which essentially analyzed and discussed very briefly Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

My view on Lincoln’s role in American history has shifted somewhat in five years, but it’s undeniable that the Gettysburg Address is a powerful, succinct speech.  The Address, unlike my windy blog posts, is the quintessential illustration of the principle that “less is more.”

Like last year, this year’s post is a bit delayed due to the way the Fourth fell this year (on a Sunday).  It was a very quiet Independence Day:  my younger brother had my girlfriend, myself, and another friend over to have hot dogs and burgers, as his wife and kids were away visiting family.  I manned the grill, turning the dogs like a human-operated convenience store hot dog roller.  The thin, diner-style smash burgers my brother made were delicious, especially with American cheese.

This year was the first in awhile that didn’t really feel like the Fourth of July, even though last year’s celebration was during the supremely unfree Age of The Virus.  I suppose the holiday snuck up on me, and with the nation in the state it is, perhaps I just wasn’t feeling all that patriotic.

Nevertheless, I reminded myself that America has been on the ropes before, and we’re not going to let some bug-eating, gender-confused CommieNazis destroy our hope.

With that, here are several posts commemorating July Fourths past:

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MAGAWeek2021: Red Meat

This week is MAGAWeek2021, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting today (Monday, 5 July 2021) and running through this Friday, 9 July 2021, this year’s MAGAWeek2021 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

Is there anything more delicious and American than steak?  Red meat is, perhaps, the finest meat God ever created.  Sure, pork and chicken are wonderful in their own ways—who doesn’t love pulled-pork barbecue?—but nothing beats a good steak.

Indeed, the noble Texas Longhorn is virtually a symbol for the Old West, just like the cowboys that guided him to market on the long drives of the nineteenth century.  The Texas Longhorn, according to Oklahoma State University’s Department of Animal Science, a product of natural selection, meaning the breed is the only beef cattle in the country that is not the product of human-guided animal husbandry or selective breeding.  Instead, the cattle adapted to survive specifically in North America, after cattle brought over by Christopher Columbus and early Spanish explorers made their way into what is now the American Southwest.

The Black Angus—a breed most Americans will recognize from endless restaurant adverts—is the most common beef cattle breed in the United States.  Grilling Black Angus steaks and burgers was no doubt a major part of many Americans’ Independence Day.

It’s no exaggeration to say that beef built the West, and fed the country in the process.

To read the rest of today’s MAGAWeek2021 post, head to my SubscribeStar page and subscribe for $1 a month or more!

The Joy of Coffee

H/T to Mogadishu Matt for the inspiration for this post:  coffee is one of the simple pleasures in life.  File that observation under “obvious and non-controversial,” but coffee brings so much joy for just pennies per mug.

I came late to coffee.  I didn’t begin drinking this spirit-lifting brew until I was twenty-six, when I returned to classroom teaching.  I was in the midst of my 2011 Weight Loss Odyssey, when I lost around 110 pounds in about eleven months.  I realized I needed a low-calorie pick-me-up, and determined to overcome my distaste for coffee’s trademark bitterness.

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