Lazy Sunday CLXXI: Veterans Day Posts

Way back in 2018—doesn’t that feel like a different world (and didn’t 2018 feel like a different world than even 2016)?—I gave a short talk to the Florence County (South Carolina) Republican Party about the Great War and Veterans Day, what was once called “Armistice Day.”  Not being one to let content go to waste, I published a transcript of the talk on 13 November 2018 to this blog, and I’ve reblogged it every year since on 11 November.

It’s probably a bit too “inside baseball,” but when I reblog these old posts, I’ll sometimes layer in the commentary from the past reblogged versions, too.  Readers will notice I do this with TBT posts, which over the years can become “TBT^2,” “TBT^4,” and so on.

For whatever reason, I only did this Talmudic commentary-on-commentary once with this post, back in 2020.  I suppose when Veterans Day falls on a Thursday again, I’ll reblog “TBT: Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies” as a “TBT^2” post.

But I digress.  Here are all of the Veterans Day posts going back to 2018:

There you have it, folks.  Thanks to everyone who has served, and a huge thanks for those who have given their lives in the line of duty.  No mere blog post can do justice to the depth of your devotion.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Flashback Friday: Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies

It is Veterans Day here in the United States, what was once called Armistice Day, the day the cease-fire went into effect, effectively ending the First World War—the “Great War,” as it was then known.  The men that day never dreamed there’d be a Second World War, but in hindsight, it’s easy to see how the cease-fire and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles of 1919 were, indeed, mere stopgaps.  It was a cease-fire of twenty years, not a lasting peace, and the two great, terrible wars of the twentieth century are, perhaps, best understood as being one larger conflict, a la the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

But I digress.  Every Veterans Day—which I stylized with a plural possessive apostrophe until finally looking it up this year and realizing my error—I repost this short talk I gave in 2018.  At the time, I was involved actively in the Florence County (South Carolina) Republican Party, and would give a brief Historical Moment talk at the start of each meeting.  This speech—from the 12 November 2018 meeting, one of my last with the organization—is the one of which I am most proud, and the one I feel most privileged to have given.

With that, here is “Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies“:

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TBT^4: Hand it to Handel

Autumn is here, and it’s a time for music!  There is something about the fall that makes music even better.  Sure, summertime is for outdoor concerts and music festivals, but I find music sounds better in the fall.

There is some science behind this feeling:  sound waves travel farther in colder weather.  It has something to do with air particles being further apart in the cold, so sound waves can keep going.  I’m sure I’m explaining it incorrectly, and I’m too lazy to look it up, but just trust me on this one.

Unfortunately, I am no longer teaching the Pre-AP Music Appreciation course that saw me steeped in the best that medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, classical, Romantic, and modern composers had to offer.  That doesn’t mean I have to stop enjoying these composers, though!

One of my all-time faves—and a composer who is quintessentially English, even if he’s German—is George Frideric Handel.  His works are among the finest from the Baroque period.

With that, here is 18 November 2021’s “TBT: Hand it to Handel“:

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TBT^2: Monsters

MonstersGhoulsGhostsDemocrats.

They’re all creatures of the night:  bloodsucking, blood-curdling, blood-soaked.

Or they’re adorable, CGI critters that work in a factory, according to Pixar.

Of course, if you’re Stephen King, the real monsters are us—humans.  Have you read ‘Salem’s Lot?  A woman beats her own baby (and that baby becomes an infant vampire—yikes)!

That’s all a very weak, very contrived introduction for this week’s edition of TBT, which looks back at a couple of years’ posts and related commentary on monsters.  Whatever they are, whatever their intentions, monsters are always one thing:  interesting.

With that, here is 21 October 2021’s “TBT: Monsters“:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Great Coarsening

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A perennial saw of the conservative pundit is the decline of public morality.  Indeed, it is so well-worn that the ignorant use it as evidence that, because people have always complained about “kids these days,” it must mean that we’re just fuddy-duddies who are painfully out of touch.  Why, elders have always complained about their kids!

Of course, that’s not true.  The idea of a “generation gap” is a relatively modern phenomenon.  For most of human history, children grew up to be very much like their parents (indeed, I would argue that is still the case, just with the addition of angsty, extended adolescence tossed into the mix).  Yes, humans have always recognized the folly of youth—Proverbs frequently refers to children and young people as “fools,” or taken with folly—but it wasn’t considered to be either virtuous or some massive, unbridgeable gap.

But in a world with no connection to the past, one which exists in an eternal Present, it is little wonder that we witness—even encourage!—such a separation from our ancestors.  The United States particularly suffers from the pedestalization of youth:  we have come to believe that youngsters possess all wisdom, being spared the corruption of Reality—of real life.

The opposite, of course, is true.  Yes, there is something admirable about the energy and certitude of youthful moral righteousness, but it is often a quite short-sighted self-righteousness.  That’s not the fault of young people—they are, after all, young and inexperienced—but the traditional expectation was that they would grow out of that sunny idealism as Reality and Truth taught their hard lessons.  We should remain optimistic and thankful in the midst of adversity, but true foolishness comes from ignoring these hard-taught lessons.

That’s all a very long preamble to get to the thrust of this piece:  we are witnessing The Great Coarsening of civil and social life, in every arena:  politics, culture, art, manners, customs, etc.  How often do we hear the F-word dropped casually in everyday conversation—the way Nineties Valley Girls used the word “like”?  As a schoolteacher, I overhear this word frequently, as students and adults treat it as, essentially, a sentence enhancer.

Here is where the charges of fuddy-duddiness are most frequently leveled: “Oh, come now, Port, who cares about some word?”  It’s not the word itself, per se—although that word is exceptionally foul—but what it represents.

Or, rather, what it’s ubiquity represents:  the aforementioned Great Coarsening.

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Midweek Myers Movie Review: Hidden Figures (2016)

We’re back with another movie review from Audre Myers, who is tossing in reviews of her favorite flicks whenever the mood strikes (or whenever I e-mail her asking her to contribute something).

She offers up her review of the 2016 film Hidden Figures, about three black women “computers” working for NASA.  It was a darling of the critics for its frank depiction of segregation.

Unfortunately, some its iconic scenes—like the lady having to walk half-a-mile to use a segregated bathroom—are Hollywood hogwash.  The segregated facilities were abolished in 1958—three years before the films setting—and while there were segregated restrooms in one part of NASA’s facilities prior to that year, they were unlabeled.  Katherine Johnson, one of the titular “hidden figures,” unwittingly used the whites only bathroom for years, and ignored the one complaint that was ever issued without any further escalation.

These inaccuracies—perhaps dramatic artistic license?—don’t mean segregation wasn’t real—it certainly was—but it seems that NASA was not exactly the hotbed of segregationist sentiment that the film depicts.  That makes sense—an organization reaching for the stars probably isn’t all that concerned about such earthbound issues as skin pigmentation.  Besides, there are plenty of alien species we can discriminate against in the distant future.

With that, here is Audre Myers’s review of 2016’s Hidden Figures:

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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.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Queen and 9/11

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Queen Elizabeth II, the long-reigning, dignified, Stoic monarch of Great Britain, passed away this week at the age of 96.  The news was shocking, not because of the tragedy of her death itself, but because I’d always assumed she would live forever—even though I knew that wasn’t possible.  Queen Elizabeth was just always there, and it seemed like she would be.

To be honest, I’m surprised she was only 96; I thought she’d already hit 100.  As it was, she was pretty close.  Her seventy-plus-year reign is the longest in the history of the British monarchy, and the longest any woman has been a head of state in all of recorded history.

The Queen’s passing, as other commentators have noted, truly marks the end of an era, an era in which the West, while fumbling a bit, still reigned supreme, and took itself seriously as a civilization.  Her death marks the final page of a long chapter in the book of Western Civilization, as her reign was the last vestige of the Old England so many of us, even here in the States, loved so dearly.

It is, then, perhaps apropos that the Queen’s death came so close to 9/11, a day of infamy which, sadly, seems to have receded further and further into the collective imagination of our divided and bickering nation.  Both the Queen and 9/11 were once symbols of national unity and patriotism, but the latter marked the death of American liberty.  Queen Elizabeth’s death, on the other hand, is a coda, the last few measures of a piece that lost its orchestra some time ago, but which managed to maintain a few dedicated musicians to play her out.

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TBT^2: Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus

The Virus is like a bad movie series that just refuses to die.  There was a controversial but impactful first release that everyone was talking about, even if they didn’t see it.  Then there was the lackluster sequel, which still enjoyed some popular support, even though ticket sales were down.

Now it feels like we’re on the tired third film, which is a watered-down, ineffectual finale (one hopes) to a premise that is played out.  Sure, critics love it, but audiences are tired of its antics.

What still seems to make it into the script of every one of these films is the part where the government bureaucrats lock everything down and release a bunch of ghosts into Manhattan (uh, wait, what?).  Meanwhile, we all kind of sit by and twiddle our thumbs and put our masks on dutifully.

What happened to the band of merry wastrels who tossed tea into Boston Harbor, rather than comply with an odious monopolization of the tea trade?  Or the plucky scofflaws who made it impossible to enforce the Stamp Act?  I’d rather disguise myself as an Indian (feather, not dot) and caffeinate the water supply than put a mask on again (but that would be cultural appropriation, of course).

In short, why don’t we get a backbone, instead of cowering behind masks and locking ourselves indoors?  We’re literally cowering before an invisible enemy with a 99%+ survival rate.

Well, liberty is never easy.  Better to stay inside watching movies and disconnecting from reality, eh?

With that, here is 29 July 2021’s “TBT: Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus“:

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