TBT: Summertime Schedule Begins

As of about 8 PM EST last Thursday, I’ve been living the Summer Break Lifestyle.  Other than camp and lessons, I’ve been enjoying a much more leisurely pace of living.

Summer is already filling up fast.  While the first week of Minecraft Camp is in the books, I have another session next week.  I’m attempting to run my Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for the second year, but as of the time of writing, it looks like I might just have one student, so that may get axed.

Nevertheless, it’s a good time to knock out some projects, especially when I wrap up camps.  I’m hoping to get back—finally!—to wrapping up the first volume of my Sunday Doodles book, which will go through the first fifty editions of the feature (over at my SubscribeStar page).  Indeed, I may do the first 100 editions, as I am currently at 144.  That will require more editing, but will make for a beefier book.

It’s also time to get cracking on some short stories.  I’ve been sitting on one story about a guy who eats an undercooked frozen pizza with bizarre consequences; now I need to write it!

With that, here is 8 June 2021’s “Summertime Schedule Begins“:

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TBT: One Week [and One Year] Under the Usurper

Well, it’s been one year and one week since Biden the Usurper seized the throne and assumed his reign of the federal government.  Of course, he’s a senile puppet—or maybe he’s playing at senility—and rubber stamps whatever the progressives want.

I’ve really disengaged from national politics over the last year, as I find much of the wrangling fruitless.  I personally advocate for radical decentralization and focusing our energy and attention at the lowest levels of government to bring about change.  If economics functions on a “trickle-down” basis, politics “trickles-up”—(re)gain control of the mechanisms of power and the institutions locally, and you’re going to change—albeit slowly—the greater heights.

That said, even I am not ignorant to the state of the country.  Workers are quitting their menial jobs in droves—or not returning to them after being furloughed—as they can enjoy excessively generous unemployment benefits.  Prices are through the roof on everything, especially food.  Farmers are facing higher prices for the inputs for fertilizer, which means food is just going to get more expensive.  The supply chains are totally disrupted.  And we’re wringing our hands over The Virus, which has gotten milder over time, and was never all that deadly anyway.

Police officers are arresting nine-year olds in New York City for not having vaccine passports.  Masks—which don’t work at all—are a sign of the pious—the New Elect—and increase carbon dioxide levels.  Companies are forcing employees to get The Vaccine, which isn’t even a vaccine in the traditional sense, but an experimental gene therapy that appears to increase dramatically the incidences of myocarditis in even the healthiest individuals—including professional athletes, who are dropping like flies.

Americans might have lost their spirit of ornery rebellion, but if their kids are getting arrested and/or discriminated against and they can’t buy stuff they want at low prices, they’ll make a fuss.  They already are.  The Biden Administration might not bear the responsibility for everything that is happening, but they’ve done precious little to ameliorate—and much to exacerbate—our current situation.

That’s why now more than ever, we’ve got to get serious about fixing things where we are.  Grow your own food, stack cash (even if inflation eats into it), and learn to live lean.

With that, here is 27 January 2021’s “One Week Under the Usurper“:

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A New Term

Yesterday I was sworn-in to a full term on Lamar Town Council.  I was elected earlier this year in a special election, so this was my second swearing-in ceremony.  Now, however, I’m in for a full four years.

My colleague on Council, Councilwoman Mary Ann Mack, was also sworn-in to her first full term after being elected last July.  Our new mayor, Mayor James Howell, was sworn-in, too, marking the start of his administration.

The ceremony was short and sweet.  We gathered on the front lawn of Town Hall at 5 PM.  The judge ran each of us through the oath of office, starting with the new mayor and wrapping up with myself.  There was a nice Christmas tree on the lawn, and lots of family, friends, and city employees were in attendance.  Mayor Howell brought out the biggest crowd, with Councilwoman Mack bringing a few family members.  I arrived solo, and had to take my oath on the Bible the local Methodist minister brought for her short invocation (apparently, I missed the memo to bring my own Bible—d’oh!).

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Lamar Election Results 2021

About forty minutes after polls closed, poll workers posted election results to the front door of Lamar Town Hall.

Here are the receipts for Lamar Precinct No. 1, which is south of Main Street, and Lamar Precinct No. 2, which is north of Main Street (I live in the latter district).

Those don’t include the absentee ballots, which a poll worker announced aloud.  Here are the final vote totals (winners in bold green):

Mayor’s Race

James Howell – 164

Inez Bess Lee – 155

Town Council (2 Seats to Fill)

Tyler James Cook – 162

Mary Ann Mack – 176

Jerry Shull (Write-In) – 111

Here is a picture I took from a lady’s phone; she managed to get a photo of what I think is the sheet the poll workers used to tally everything:

Lamar Election November 2021 - Totals

The numbers on the left are the vote totals.  The first number to the right of each name represents the absentee ballots, which is what the Darlington News and Press is reporting at the time of this writing; the second number represents votes from Lamar Precinct No. 1; and the third number represents votes from Lamar Precinct No. 2 (cut off in this photograph).

Barring any chicanery, these look to be the official numbers.

Thanks to everyone who came out and voted today.  I appreciated your support!  Congratulations to all of the candidates for putting themselves out there to serve the public.

SubscribeStar Saturday: Trick-or-Treat When You Want

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One of the more interesting aspects of serving as a Town Councilman is discovering the kinds of matters residents really care about.  While they tend to worry about big issue things—fixing the water system, for example, and keeping their water and sewage bills low—most of their day-to-day concerns are smaller:  getting lawn waste picked up in a timely fashion; being able to pay their water bill conveniently; requesting information about upcoming events.

That’s to be expected:  people have busy lives, and one reason we have representative government is because most folks want someone else to take care of the delivery of basic services.  Just as we expect the electric company to keep the lights on and our ISP to keep the YouTube videos piping in over high-speed connections, residents want their water to flow when they turn on the spigot.  I don’t lie awake at night wondering how to generate electricity because a lot of other capable people are involved in doing just that, and I’m happy to pay them to do it.

But one thing that I have noticed is that there are some matters that people really can figure out for themselves, but they still want some official guidance or direction.  I’ve noticed this most with questions about the time-honored Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating.

The issue is straightforward:  Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, which throws everything into chaos.  Here in the South, our relationship with Halloween is sometimes tenuous at best, although most everyone I know loves it and celebrates it in some way, including trick-or-treating.  But Sundays are for church, not for dressing up as witches and devils and ghosts.  Also, more practically, there is work and school the next day, and no one wants to be out too late.

The big question, then, is, “when do we trick-or-treat?”—or, as I have been asked by residents, “when does the town observe trick-or-treating?”

The Town of Lamar has answered that question:  Saturday, 30 October 2021, from 4-7 PM.  But I am still getting questions about trick-or-treating—more than about any other piece of town business.

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Playing Catch-up: TPP Update

Apologies to my regular readers for the very delayed post today.  Now that I have a large contingent of British readers, I really like to hit the 6:30 AM EST posting time, which I imagine is around lunchtime for them, so they have something to read over their tea and crumpets while my American readers have something to read over their grits and coffee.

As I’ve alluded to in other posts, the past two weeks or so have been absolutely insane for yours portly.  As my school’s music teacher, I’m also the audio-visual wizard on campus.  With Homecoming Week last week, it was my responsibility to make sure the sound system at the football field was working properly, and to assist with setup for some of the Homecoming games.  I also set up another ad hoc sound system for my High School Music Ensemble to play a couple of songs at a pep rally Friday morning.  When most of your musicians play guitar and piano, the logistics of plugging everything in become more daunting when taken outdoors.

Needless to say, all of my planning time was consumed with these activities, and I spent most of my Music classes using student labor to move equipment to and from the football field.  That meant more time in the evenings and early mornings working on school-related stuff, and less time to focus on the blog.

In the midst of all of the Homecoming Week wackiness, I’m also running for reelection to Lamar Town Council and practicing and preparing for the 2021 Spooktacular.  Tonight I have a candidates forum for the former, and last night my buddy John and I practiced for the latter.

Add to all of that a whopping dollop of after-school music lessons, and you can tell I’ve had precious little time for much else.  I had a fun-filled day with my girlfriend on Saturday, then turned around Sunday and immediately set to work finalizing first quarter report card grades.

I’m not complaining—I like being busy—but I hope readers will extend some graciousness and excuse some occasionally late posts.  My poor dog has been getting the short end of the bully stick, too, though we both collapsed into a snoring heap on the couch last night after John departed.

Such are the rhythms of life.  Here’s hoping things return to a more stately tempo after the frenetic rhythm of the last few weeks.  Again, I don’t want to be bored, but having a little more time to focus on writing would be great.

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The War on Halloween

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It has long been the position of this blog that Halloween gets a bad rap, especially from the Christian Right. The holiday’s association with deviltry, witchcraft, and the occult is, of course, difficult to deny, but the holiday’s name is an abbreviation of “All Hallow’s Eve”; that is, the evening before All Saints’ Day on 1 November.

Granted, the Internet atheists will claim the roots of Halloween in Samhain, the Gaelic festival of the harvest. They are not wrong, per se—the influx of Irish immigrants into the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought a peculiarly Celtic flavor to the holiday. But the holiday is a Christian, specifically a Catholic, one—the Irishmen bringing tales of Jack O’Lantern and his carved turnip (it would only later become a pumpkin) were not ancient pagans, but among the most devout believers in Europe.

Certainly the medieval Catholic Church had a habit of taking pagan holidays and replacing them with Christian observances. For some reason, Internet atheists always use these replacements as examples of Christianity’s secretly pagan roots. The argument is ludicrous.

When Hernan Cortez destroyed the Aztec temple at Tenochtitlan and built a cathedral in its place, was he honoring the bloodthirsty Aztec gods? Or was he symbolically noting that The Holy Trinity had displaced the false gods and idols of the Aztecs? It is almost certainly the latter. Similarly, when Christians took existing pagan observances and replaced them with Christian ones, they were symbolically and practically demonstrating the victory of Christ and His Church over pagan gods.

Indeed, much of the American Protestant objection to Halloween must have been due to its associations with the Papists, rather than the Devil. The mischievousness of the holiday in the twentieth century, especially the concept of trick-or-treating, probably has more to do with its more sinister modern associations.

But the latest assault on Halloween is coming from a different quarter.  No longer are conservative Christians alone in hedging their bets on the holiday.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Another Election

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One month from today, my little adopted hometown of Lamar has another election.  There is a competitive mayoral race, between a current Councilwoman and another resident.  That should be an interesting race to watch.  If the Councilwoman loses, she’ll maintain her seat on Council, as she is in the middle of her term and not facing re-election this election cycle.  If she wins, it would trigger a special election—I think—to fill the vacancy.  Either scenario is interesting, but either way she would remain on Council.

There are also two Council seats up, both with incumbents running—another Councilwoman and myself.

For the Council races, residents will be able to vote twice—once for each seat.  Since there are no other filed candidates, it should be a fairly straightforward election.

That said, I lost my first run to a surprise write-in candidate (indeed, to the other Councilwoman running), so I don’t take anything for granted.

So, what is my approach this time?

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Allodial Rights

I’ve made reference before to the concept of “allodial rights” or “allodial land rights,” the idea that a person’s land is his, completely and absolutely.  The land is not a grant subject to the authority of any king or magistrate, or subordinated into smaller plots under one governing authority; rather, the land belongs fully to the landowner.

When writing my piece Saturday about the Dukes and their struggle with the Town Council in Society Hill, South Carolina, I found a piece at The Center for Social Leadership on the topic of allodial rights.  The piece argues that allodial land rights—which are the norm in the United States—differ from those of the feudal system.  In a feudal system, the lord or king of a land controls all of the land, and leases or grants that land to subsidiaries with certain fees or obligations to the lord in exchange for the use of the land.

Under an allodial system, however, every landowner owns his land free and clear (or has the potential to do so), and is not subject to any higher authority in the use, maintenance, and disbursement of that land.  He is, essentially, the king of his parcel.

Of course, that’s never completely true.  The use of the land is subject to the restrictions of local ordinances.  Some towns enforce certain minimum standards of upkeep, and issue fines for particularly dilapidated and dangerous structures on private property.  Local governments assess property taxes; if those taxes go unpaid long enough, the government can and will strip you of your land.

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