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.
Earlier this week I was having a conversation with someone on Milo’s rollicking Telegram chat, in which we were trying to figure out the name of a short story involving people living in underground cells, communicating only via the Internet. I had a feeling I had written about it before, but could not remember the name of the story.
Turns out it was E.M. Forster’s novella “The Machine Stops,” originally published in 1909, and I wrote about it in this catch-all post from the early days of The Age of The Virus (so early, in fact, I was not capitalizing the first “the” in that moniker, which I have texted so much, my last phone auto-predicted “The Age of The Virus”). I compared the story to Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”–a story that apparently is assigned regularly in India, because pageviews for it always seem to coincide with large numbers of site visitors from the subcontinent.
But I digress. The story sounded eerily like what our elites asked us to do during The Age of The Virus: stay home, get fat, consume mindless entertainment, and don’t socialize. Granted, some of us could go outside and plant gardens (I still got fat, though), but the messaging was not “become more self-sufficient so we can mitigate disaster” but “buy more stuff and don’t do anything fun.” It was depressing to me how many people embraced this line of reasoning, turning government-mandated sloth into some kind of perverted virtue.
I appreciated the break that The Age of The Virus afforded us, but it came with the severe curtailment of liberty—and Americans ate it up! Instead of people boldly throwing ravers and partying down, laughing at our elites, we instead retreated into our hovels, shuddering in the dark. When I did through a big Halloween bash, it was a massive success—because, I suppose, people had finally had it.
When I revived the blog on WordPress in late 2018, I never intended to write daily. I’d maintained a Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule on the Blogspot blog, which I shifted over to WordPress on 1 June 2018. I kept that pace up briefly, but when school resumed I left the blog dormant until late December 2018, and after three days of consecutive posting by happenstance, WordPress informed me I was on a three-day “streak.”
That caught my attention. At that point, I decided to write daily for the month of January 2019. It seemed like a fun a challenge, and I figured it would help build an audience and give me something constructive to do during the slowest month of the year.
After that, I thought, “Eh, why not go to fifty?” From there, 100 didn’t look too difficult.
The weather is getting warmer—it hit a balmy 77 degrees at least one day this week here in South Carolina—and that means Spring is near. Spring means gardening, and if I’m going to dive into the deep-end of converting my humble half-acre into a very small-scale farm, I’d probably better get crackin’ now.
As such, it was with great interest that I listened to an interview with Owen Benjamin, the stand-up comedian-turned-survivalist. Benjamin is a controversial figure, and I don’t agree with some of his views, but, again, I can respect his knowledge in the area of homesteading without endorsing, say, his belief that the Earth is flat.
With that preamble, I thought I’d share Benjamin’s recent interview with Blonde in the Belly of the Beast. It’s a little over an hour long, but it’s worth your time. One thing I learned is that growing some tomatoes and raising a few chickens is very easy, and that the barrier to entry for small-scale homesteading and farming is much lower than I initially thought.
Tip The Portly Politico: Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.
It’s Valentine’s Day—and the one-hundredth installment of Lazy Sunday! Because I did the “Best of Lazy Sunday” prematurely due to The Great Misnumbering, I decided to take a look back at Valentine’s Day posts.
Unfortunately, I only have two posts for Valentine’s Day, which I don’t celebrate with the same gusto as Halloween or Christmas. So I’m also going to toss in a sales pitch for one of my albums, which you’re welcome to ignore.
“Phone it in Friday VI: Valentine’s Day” – When I wrote this post on Valentine’s Day 2020, it felt like a different world. It was in The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus. I was single, which I always find to be a bit of a blessing on Valentine’s Day, as it releases me from the oft-unreasonable demands and expectations the holiday places upon men. I linked to several great pieces and one podcast about love, marriage, and all that mushy stuff, and I think those pieces still hold up, especially photog’s piece on matchmakers. Read the comments!
Ah, well. That’s just nit-picking. Here’s what I wrote about this past week:
“Soda City Market” – This post was a review of my excursion Saturday to the Soda City Market, a weekly farmers’ and arts and crafts market in Columbia, South Carolina. I was surprised by the popularity of this post. I guess people like reading about festivals!
“Morning Movie Review: Brazil (1985)” – This post was my review of the dystopian dark comedy Brazil. I loved this film; my only regret is that I didn’t watch it again before my RedBox rental period expired. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen lately that depicts a “dystopian” near-future, mainly because, for all it’s absurdity, it’s the most plausible depiction of actual reality.
It’s been another crazy week, but the rhythms of the school year are beginning to fall into their familiar patterns. That said, I’ve put in more hours working this week than any in a long time.
Regular readers know what that means: another edition of Phone it in Friday, now reaching its fifteenth installment.
It’s been a week for shout-outs to other commentators and platforms, so I figured I’d continue with that theme and recommend some of my blogger buddies to you. I have to give a big hat tip for this idea to one of my best blogger buddies, photog, over at Orion’s Cold Fire. He wrote a post—“A Word of Thanks to Our Boosters“—highlighting some of those blogs that routinely link to his page or reference his writing, and yours portly made the list. Thanks, photog!
So on this rainy, overcast Friday, here are some excellent blogs for your consideration:
It’s been another wild Friday afternoon of funcling, so I’m resorting to phoning it in once again this evening. I spent the morning at the doctor’s office for my annual wellness visit, got an end-of-summer-vacation haircut, and finished up my Pre-AP Music Zoom sessions. Since then, I’ve been knee-deep in babies for the second day in a row.
While I was driving all over the Central Savannah River Area, I tuned in to Z Man’s weekly podcast, which pops Friday mornings. The show this week is called “Happy Happy Fun Time,” in which Z Man shares a message I promoted a few weeks ago: despair is a sin, and we have much for which we can give thanks.
Z himself can over a jaundiced, cantankerous perspective on the world, a la H.L. Mencken (whom he clearly admires). But Z’s argument is straightforward: if we just focus on politics, all the time, we stop being fun. Life is for the living, and many folks on the Dissident Right tend to get so bogged down in the seeming hopelessness of the Leftist-dominated culture wars, they cease enjoying life.
We’re rounding out the month of Phone it in Fridays this week with the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth editions. I’ve intentionally avoided doing more PiiFs while going through them, although I’ll likely write more in the future (because they’re easy and quick), and there will likely a “Phone it in Fridays, Part V” at some point (because it’s easy and quick).
Like last week’s installment, The Virus cast a long, sickly shadow over these entries. For a time, that’s pretty much all bloggers and the commentariat were discussing, to the point that it got boring and tiresome. We also settled into our oppressive new normal like slowly boiling frogs, and now every trip to the grocery store looks like a Japanese subway station.
Here are Phone it in Fridays X, XI, and XII:
“Phone it in Friday X: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part III: Working from Home” – One of the silver linings of The Age of The Virus was teaching from home. At least, I quite enjoyed it—virtually all of my colleagues hated it. I’m fortunate to teach in a field (History) that is easy to port to an online format, and I’ve been teaching online since 2015, so I have a good sense for the kind of feedback and communication necessary to make distance learning smoother for students (and myself). This post had me musing about the future of work, and my hopes that we’d see more white-collar work done from home.
“Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus” – One of the more astonishing aspects of the lockdowns, quarantines, shelter-in-place orders, mask ordinances, etc., was the ready compliance of most Americans to shutting down their lives. I think everyone was copacetic to the “two weeks to flatten the curve” mantra, but that two weeks turned into “indefinite oppression because we said so.” As cases have shot up in South Carolina, even our more conservative municipalities have put mask ordinances into place, albeit relatively mild, with tons of exemptions. Had I won my that Town Council election on Tuesday, I would have voted against any such ordinances, on the grounds that a.) law enforcement doesn’t need to waste their time enforcing the unenforceable—and the non-criminal, and b.) mature adults and individual businesses in a free society can make their own best decisions about masks, etc. Regardless, we all seemed to forget about the Constitution the minute a plague hit—unlike our plague-ridden ancestors.
“Phone it in Friday XII: Good Reads” – The point of PiiF is to churn out some quick content on Fridays when I’m ready to relax for the weekend. This PiiF ended up being one of the longest ones yet. I read a ton of blogs every day, schedule-permitting, so I come across some good stuff from time to time. This post shared great pieces from Rachel Fulton Brown, Z Man, and photog.
That’s it! Twelve Fridays in one month of Sundays. Lots of numbers divisible by 2 and 3 there. I hope these PiiFs brought some joy to your life.