The Frisson of the Night

Yesterday I wrote about the joy—the thrill!—of live music.  I’m excited to see it making a comeback after the long, weary months of The Age of The Virus, and hope we will witness a renaissance of live entertainment.

Live music is most at home, I think, at night.  Sure, there are plenty of fine performances that take place during the day, and a talented classical guitarist plucking out Bach’s Bourrée in E Minor adds a bit of classiness to a tony Sunday brunch, but music lives at night.  After all, Mozart composed Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (“A Little Night Music”), not Ein Kleiner Tagmusik.

There is palpable excitement to the night—a delectable frisson, the promise of things to come.  The night is when things happen.  Granted, they aren’t always good things, but they night promises to be eventful.

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Rebuilding Civilization: The Hunter-Gatherer

Thanks to Audre Myers of Nebraska Energy Observer I have a new commenter on the blog, 39 Pontiac Dream, a proper English gent of the old school (or so I gather).  He very kindly shared some links with me from The Conservative Woman (or TWC as it is styled on its website), a site both Audre and Neo have recommended to me many times.  One of those links was to an intriguing piece by Stuart Wavell, “The next civilisation.”

Our culture has an obsession with apocalyptic scenarios:  massive plagues (a bit too relevant at the moment); zombie uprisings (always a popular one); massive meteor impacts (a bit retro—a favorite of the 1990s).  Perhaps it’s a sign of a moribund and decadent culture that we fantasize about most of human life ending and starting the whole thing over from scratch.

When we indulge in these celluloid and literary fantasies, I suspect the inherent assumption is similar to those who want to restore absolute monarchies:  we assume that we will survive the collapse, just as the would-be monarchists assume they will be king (or at least some important member of the nobility).

Chances are, most of us (yours portly included) would die quite quickly, either from the cataclysm itself, or from the bands of marauding raiders that would inevitably rise up in the wake of such a collapse.  If those didn’t get us, it would be starvation, disease, or our own inability to assess danger that would do us in.

Wavell makes a similar point, with an interesting caveat:  while those of us softened and doughy by the abundance of civilization would find ourselves in the pickle brine, the isolated, self-sufficient hunter-gatherers of the world—and they are still out there!—would be just fine, as they have been for millennia.

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Big News: TPP is Going to the Dogs

According to PetSmart.com, this week is National Adoption Week.  I suppose that’s appropriate, because I’m getting a dog.

For some reason, I became obsessed with the idea of finding a canine pal a few weeks ago.  I can’t really explain why, though I do have some theories, but I think it’s the same obsession my father succumbed to last summer when he purchased a rat terrier puppy, Atticus (née Mike).  After dog-sitting my girlfriend’s German Shepherd, Lily, for a week, that desire only deepened.

I was looking at my county’s humane society, which has a number of very adorable pups up for adoption.  I really fell in love with an old Shepherd mix named Mattus, who has now been adopted and sent to a new life in Vermont (their politics aside, that sounds a bit like paradise).

But then I began searching a bit further afield, and stumbled upon a very old dog, Riley, who is fostered in a town nearby.  Riley is a bull terrier, the breed perhaps best known due to the Budweiser mascot Spuds MacKenzie or the Target spokesdog, Bullseye.  I was not considering the breed at all, as they are quite mischievous and can be a handful for newcomers to dog ownership, but the description of old Riley—a chilled dude nearing the end of his life, just looking for a place to crash in comfort and snacks in his final days—seemed like a good fit.

After notifying the Bull Terrier Rescue Mission of my interest in Riley, one of their placement coordinators, Anja, contacted me for an in-depth discussion about the breed, Riley, etc.  Among other things, I learned that some bull terriers suffer from a form of obsessive-compulsion that causes them to chase their tales for unhealthily long periods of time; in England, they’re known as “nanny dogs,” as they will watch children under their care with an eagle eye; and that the breed possesses an unusually high pain threshold, meaning it doesn’t feel pain nearly as soon as other dogs.

We also determined after our hour-long discussion that Riley would not be a good fit for me.  Indeed, I’d woken up the night before contemplating the life changes necessary to care for an extremely elderly dog with a heart murmur.  Anja stressed to me that the Rescue places animals and owners together with the best possible fit, and that no owner should have to totally upend his life just to take in a dog.  I agree completely, but it was good to hear it from someone whose life is, arguably, consumed with dogs much of the time.

So after a long, productive conversation, Anja had all of my information and my preferences, and told me to be patient—it could be a couple of months before the right dog showed up in my area, but with bull terriers coming in all the time, she would be in touch.

With that, I made a small donation to the Rescue, and continued looking at the local humane society, if for no other reason than to whet my appetite.  I did go ahead and purchase a copy of Jane Killion’s When Pigs Fly!: Training Success with Impossible Dogs, figuring that having the authoritative training text for bull terriers would come in handy with most dogs, but especially if I ended up with a bull terrier.  Then I went about the business of moving my girlfriend to Athens.

It was on the long drive back to Columbia Friday afternoon, after completing our first run down to Georgia, that I received a text from Anja:  there was an eight-year old female bull terrier named Murphy who’d just been taken to a shelter in North Carolina.  As soon as I saw her picture, I knew that my life was going to get much more interesting:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Small Ponds

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.

Blogging is a notoriously inwardly focused medium, one in which the blogger injects not only his or her beliefs into the commentary delivered, but even his or her personality—lives, thoughts, seemingly unconnected details, etc.  At its best, blogging offers a glimpse into how people think, and the inextricable intertwining of the personal, subjective interlocutor with the supposedly objective facts under consideration.  At its worst, it devolves into self-indulgent “me-search,” in which the writers’ subjective experience becomes the primary—even the only—means through which the writer can understand the topic.

The latter situation is what I strenuously wish to avoid, though my blog is, at times, excessively self-indulgent and solipsistic.  I don’t think I’ve quite gone as low as a mommy blogger or a gloomy, self-absorbed teen, but I’ll admit I occasionally dash of some hasty “me-search” to meet my self-imposed daily quota.  Perhaps these pieces are worth your time—I hope they are—but I apologize if they aren’t.

That said, I do believe there is value in learning from one’s personal experiences (as I write that, I realize how painfully obvious that observation—I can’t even call it an “insight”—is).  Much of human wisdom—of history—consists of the hard lessons learned from individuals’ personal experiences with the world.  While I am by no means a great man or a world-historic figure—one critic of the blog once labeled me a “mediocrity”—I have, at least, thrown myself into multiple arenas in my short life, each one teaching me something different about our world and the human condition.  From politics to music to writing to teachingand on and on—I’ve learned my fair share of insights.

All of that waxing philosophical is to get to this point:  I have learned that the small pond—the small school, the small town, the small institution, the small business, etc.—is, while oft overlooked or derided, a very nice place to be.  The small pond is where opportunity exists.  If I am indeed a mediocrity, I’ve made a good life for myself being, perhaps, the First Among Mediocrities, the one willing to toss his hat into the ring.  That has made all the difference.

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

Routine Maintenance

Regular readers will know that I’m a schoolteacher, and as such I enjoy multiple, almost random days off, sprinkled generously throughout the academic year (not to mention the three best reasons to teach:  June, July, and August).  We enjoyed one such break this past weekend—a glorious, four-day weekend dubbed “Winter Break,” in honor (no doubt) of Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day, all rolled into one big excuse to stay home.

It was, by all accounts, a meteorologically dreary weekend, with rain that started sometime Friday and lasting through the duration, but it was nevertheless enjoyable.  I took in my first movie in the theaters in months, and managed to get a number of miscellaneous items completed (as I’ve always got some side hustles going, I was able to dedicate some time to them, though I still need to work on editing my collection of Inspector Gerard stories).

Besides seeing friends and loved ones, though, I try to use these days to take care of routine maintenance—on the house, on my cars, whatever the case might be.  Lately I’ve been borderline fanatical about organization, particularly keeping my desk at home tidy, various writing utensils and calendars at the ready when needed.

This weekend, though, I dedicated several hours to reviving my long lost love:  my busted up 2006 Dodge Caravan.

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Romney Gets One Right

Okay, okay—before you start pelting me with the citrus fruit of your choice, let me make it clear:  I have no love for Mitt Romney.  I think he’s a traitorous, chimerical liar whose positions bend and twist with the ever-changing fashions of the Left.  He strikes me as a coward and opportunist, who will gladly slit his own party’s throat for a farthing of accolades from Democrats and the progressive press.

All that said, I’m intellectually honest enough to give credit where it is due, and even a stopped Mormon is right twice a day.  Mitt Romney has proposed a bill (forgive me for linking to the Never Trumpers at The Dispatch) that he argues is intended to alleviate childhood poverty, but is really a pro-natalist plan:  direct payments of $350 for children five and under, and $250 a month for children six through seventeen, with a maximum annual benefit of $15,000 annually, and payments beginning four months before a child’s birth.

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TBT: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony

I’ve been on a major classical and Romantic music kick lately, dedicating the last three Fridays specifically to the music of the Romantic Period (here, here, and here).

As such, I thought it would be apropos to look back at a piece I wrote last January about Beethoven and his masterful Sixth Symphony.  The occasion for that piece was the South Carolina Philharmonic‘s Sunday matinee performance of their popular Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert—back in The Before Times when we still had live music.  The program, as I wrote at the time, was “‘Beethoven’s Greatest Hits,'” featuring Beethy’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor and Symphony No. 6 in F Major.

The Sixth, often called the “Pastoral,” is one of my favorites.  I’m a sucker for programmatic music, and there are programmatic elements embedded in the titles of each of the symphony’s movements, but the music sounds like the countryside.

But I covered all of this a year ago, so why repeat myself (except that I’m doing that below… hmm…)?  Here is January 2020’s “Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony“:

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Slam into SCOTUS

With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday, the political world was thrown into hysterics.  Democrats are threatening to set the Supreme Court building and the White House ablaze if President Trump attempts to nominate a replacement for the Notorious RBG before the November election.

Even if they were serious about their histrionic, treasonous threat, President Trump should do it, and Senate Republicans should act speedily to confirm his nominee.  For that matter, President Trump should appoint the most stridently right-wing, pro-life, socially conservative, religious justice possible.

If the Kavanaugh hearings taught us anything, the Left will pillory any mildly conservative nominee to the Court.  Kavanaugh is a Beltway Dudley Do-Right, and he was treated as a de facto stand-in for every unpleasant interaction a woman has ever had with a man.  If the Left treated him so shabbily, why not go for broke and get the second coming of Antonin Scalia, or a young Clarence Thomas clone?

When I first heard the news, I remembered President Obama’s Merrick Garland appointment, and how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold confirmation hearings.  That was entirely constitutional, both for the president to nominate, and for the Senate to decline to confirm.  McConnell’s rationale was that the Senate should not confirm a nominee during a presidential election year, so as to give the people a chance to vote for new leadership first.

My initial reaction was, “Well, screw it—just slam in a nominee and control SCOTUS for generations.”  The Senate isn’t bound by an unwritten rule or custom, and the Left has broken so many rules (including threatening to impeach Trump for performing his constitutional duty to make an appointment), it’s time for us to do so to win.

But then my younger brother informed me that a confirmation at this time would not be a breach of senatorial custom.  The rule that McConnell invoked in 2016 only applies when the President is one party, and the Senate is controlled by the opposing party.  Presidents who have attempted nominations in those conditions during election years have failed.  Ted Cruz covers it beautifully in a short YouTube video:

Of course, McConnell warned then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2009 when the Senate got rid of its requirement that sixty Senators were necessary to confirm Supreme Court nominees that it would one day come back to haunt the Democrats.  The price of their political expediency could very well be—let us pray!—a conservative-controlled Court.

Sadly, it seems that the Democrats will keep moving the goal posts, as usual.  The cry now is that if Trump gets his nominee before the election, the Democrats will engage in court-packing should they win the presidency and Congress; in other words, they’ll add Supreme Court seats to dilute the conservative majority.

Congress has the authority to alter the number of Supreme Court seats (when the Constitution was first ratified, the Court only had six justices, rather than the present-day nine).  However, the last infamous example of court-packing—Franklin Roosevelt’s ham-fisted attempt to inflate the Court to fifteen justices from nine—was met with severe push-back from even his own party, which saw it for the transparently naked power-grab it was.  Democrats nearly ninety years later are all too eager to engage in that power grab.

Therefore, even if President Trump gets his nominee confirmed before the 3 November election, it could all be undone with a Biden win and a “blue wave” seizing control of the Senate.  That’s why it’s all the more imperative—especially in swing States—to get out and vote for Trump.  The Supreme Court pick will be meaningless if Democrats take control of the levers of power again.

Nevertheless, Senate Republicans need to confirm—speedily—whoever President Trump puts forward as his nominee (hopefully Amy Coney Barrett).  That decisive action could rally millions of conservatives to get out to vote for Trump (and vulnerable Republican Senators) in November.

More importantly, it will—barring progressive court-packing—secure the Court for conservatives for at least a generation, and possibly beyond.  If President Trump is reelected and Republicans maintain the Senate, it may then be advisable—as much as I hate to suggest it—for Justice Thomas to step down, thereby allowing Trump to appoint a younger conservative who can maintain the conservative majority for another thirty or forty years.

Big things are afoot.  The Republicans and Trump may just have one last shot to save the Republic.

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