Memorable Monday: Happy MLK Day 2019 – Suggested Reading

It’s another Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the United States, which means another day off for those of us in the cushier fields (in my case, education).  As I wrote in last year’s MLK Day post, it’s a holiday “that feels like an excuse to have a little taste of the recently-departed Christmas holiday.”  I went on in the post to contend that

Contra the whole “make it a day ON” virtue-signalers, [MLK Day] really is the perfect day to crank up the heat, brew some coffee, and enjoy reading with some fried eggs (over medium, please) and toast (and, for us Southerners, a hearty helping of grits).  It’s one of the last taste[s] of the hygge before the warm weather creeps back in (which occurs sometime in late February or early March here in South Carolina).

Here’s to the hygge, my friends.  In the spirit of wintry coziness and relaxation, I decided to look back to my first MLK Day post from 2019, which offered up some suggested reading.  Some of the suggestions I made are a bit dated, like the Conrad Black piece on Brexit, while others are solid perennially (such as photog’s reviews of The Twilight Zone).

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Here is January 2019’s very brief “Happy MLK Day 2019 – Suggested Reading“:

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, TPP readers!  I don’t have a full post today, just this quick message wishing you all a happy and safe day off (for those of you fortunate enough to be off).  Last Monday’s post about race would probably have been better saved for today, so feel free to go back and read it.

If you’re looking for some good reading on your day off, check out my list of favorite writers, or my old 2016 Summer Reading List.  In case you missed it, I’d also recommend this piece on Marxist infiltration in Great Britain.  And blogger photog at Orion’s Cold Fire is reviewing EVERY episode of The Twilight Zone, which is quite entertaining (read the first episode review).

Also in Great Britain/Brexit news:  Conrad Black has an optimistic piece about Brexit that I’ve yet to digest; stay tuned for analysis.

Finally, if you haven’t yet gotten around to it, check out Tucker Carlson’s 3 January 2019 monologue (a nice birthday present for yours truly).

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled bloviating tomorrow.

agriculture barley field beautiful close up

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Phone it in Friday XV: Blogger Buddies

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:

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Passing of Bernard Bailyn

Last week, legendary historian of colonial America Bernard Bailyn passed away at the age of 97, making his own voyage into the next life.  Blogger buddy Gordon Sheaffer at Practically Historical wrote a brief but effective tribute to Bailyn earlier this week.

As Sheaffer wrote Monday:

No other scholar impacted the study of the American Revolution more than Bailyn. His masterwork, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, continues to challenge readers 50 years after it was published. Bailyn was able to express the unique qualities of American civilization without politicizing the history with talk of exceptionalism.

I have not read—to my great shame and discredit—The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, but I have read Bailyn’s The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction, a much shorter work that serves as an introduction to a larger study on the settlement of British North America.  The book is so good, and gives such a flavor for the various peoples that settled in the original thirteen colonies, I once assigned it as summer reading for my very first AP US History class back in 2011.  It’s an accessible book, but it was a bit much for rising high school sophomores.

That said, I’ve been searching for my copy this morning in my classroom, without any luck.  Hopefully it will turn up soon.  My dad and I were talking about Bailyn’s death, as there was a small bit about it in the newspaper, and he expressed interest in reading it.  I also wouldn’t mind rereading it, as I haven’t done so in nearly a decade.

Even so, bits of it stick out to me.  Near the end of the book, Bailyn briefly explores the odd religious sects, mostly German, that came to the colonies.  I distinctly recall him writing about a self-proclaimed prophet or sage living in a cave in Pennsylvania.  There were multiple sects and utopian movements and cults and denominations popping up in British North America during the First Great Awakening, which reached its peak sometime in the 1740s and greatly influenced the American Revolution.

In an age of toppling statues and lurid efforts to erase our national history and faith (to be replaced with… what?), Bailyn’s works take on increased importance.  Let us hope he isn’t summarily cancelled like everything else that is good, decent, and doesn’t inherently hate America.

Lazy Sunday LXX: Phone it in Fridays, Part IV

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.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2020

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It’s that time of year again:  summer!  That means we’re due for The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2020!

I’m actually a bit overdue for this list.  I typically publish it in early June, to give those of you blessed to enjoy summer vacation a chance to look them up.  But my long illness for the first couple of weeks of the month waylaid a number of plans, and last weekend I was occupied with family festivities, so the list is a few weeks later than I like.

But, like Sunday Doodles—a perk for $5 a month subscribers—my philosophy is “better late than never!”  And with the Independence Day holiday approaching, it’s a great time to do some reading.

For new readers, my criteria is pretty straightforward.  To quote myself from the 2016 list:

The books listed here are among some of my favorites.  I’m not necessarily reading them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

Pretty vague, I know.  Additionally, I usually feature three books, plus an “Honorable Mention” that’s usually worth a read, too.

For those interested, here are the prior two installments:

But that’s enough yackin’.  Here’s The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2020:

1.) Richard Weaver, edited by George M. Curtis, III and James J. Thompson, Jr., The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver (1999) – Regular readers know I love Richard Weaver, and I featured his masterpiece Ideas Have Consequences on the 2016 list.  The Southern Essays feature a collection of Weaver’s writings on the South.

Weaver was a literary critic and English professor at the University of Chicago, but his roots were in Asheville, North Carolina.  He possessed a deep and abiding love of and respect for Dixie, particularly its writers.  Weaver’s background in literature and poetry is evident in these essays, in which he ruminates on the abundance of prolific Southern literary types.  He also brings some nuance to the question of the American Civil War and the South’s role therein.  I believe it was in this collection that I first learned of John Randolph of Roanoke, the great, ornery Virginian who resisted federal overreach in the early nineteenth century.

Weaver’s writing can be a bit dense, but once you get used to his mid-century style, his ideas are easy enough to absorb.  I highly, highly recommend you pick up this collection.

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Phone it in Friday XII: Good Reads

It’s been awhile (3 April 2020) since I’ve written a Phone it in Friday, which means I’ve been doing my job and writing actual content on Friday, not just slapping together listicles of random thoughts (that link is not intended to diminish Audre Myers, a far more engaging random thinker than me).  That said, today seems like a good opportunity to phone it in—after a day of baby wrangling yesterday, and a fitful night’s sleep (thanks in part to some heavy, but delicious, meals).

I’m also planning on unveiling my 2020 Summer Reading List in tomorrow’s SubscribeStar Saturday post (subscribe for a buck to read it!).  Ergo, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to highlight some good Internet reads from the past couple of weeks.

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History of Conservative Thought Summer 2020, Week 2

The second week of History of Conservative Thought 2020 is in the books.  We did another Google Meet session, as I’m still supposed to be quarantining, but we should be able to meet in person next week.  My fever is virtually gone, and I’m finally feeling normal again.

The bulk of today’s discussion centered on Russell Kirk’s “Ten Conservative Principles,” which expanded a bit upon the six conservative principles Kirk wrote about in the “Introduction” to The Portable Conservative Reader.  It was a great discussion, and it was interesting to read the students’ papers before class to see how their answer to the question “What is Conservatism?” changed after reading Kirk.

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The Learning Bug

Well, Spring Break has come to a close, with distance learning, it doesn’t quite feel the same, for both good and ill.  At about the time of this writing (shortly after 8:30 AM EST), I’d be about twenty minutes into an AP US History class under normal circumstances.  Instead, I’m sipping coffee and grading student responses to a pre-recorded lecture (on George F. Kennan’s containment policy) as they roll in.

I’ve found that, personally, I’m far more productive and focused since the transition to distance learning.  The incentives are in place for me to be so, in that I can just laser-focus in on building out online versions of my classes.  I’ve also been adjunct teaching online for a local technical college for about five years now, so I’ve gotten good at the management side of it.  Indeed, most of distance learning, after the creation of the actual content, is shepherding students through it.

That’s the other key to my productivity:  I know that the more idiot-proof and user-friendly I make the process, the less confusion for the students.  That also makes for less work for me on the back-end, which requires a good bit of planning and work on the front-end.  I pretty much stay at my computer from about 7:30 AM to 3:30 or 4 PM EST most days, so I can facilitate any student queries as they arrive, but the workflow is more flexible—instead of being locked-in to a series of hour-long performances, I’m able to complete tasks in a more organic fashion.

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Spring Break Short Story Recommendations, Part IV: “The Shed”

Well, all good things must come to an end.  Such is the fate of Spring Breaks everywhere.  While I still have the glorious weekend before me, today marks the formal last day of break.

With that, it’s time to finish out our Spring Break Short Story Recommendations (read Part I, Part II, Part III, and the TBT installment) with 1952’s “The Shed,” a bit of small-town terror by E. Eerett Evans.  This story is a tad obscure, as is its author, and I couldn’t find a free version online, but like “The Judge’s House” and “Thus I Refute Beelzy,” it’s from 11 Great Horror Stories.

“The Shed” takes place in a small town in Michigan in the first decade of the twentieth century, and focused primarily on the rough-and-tumble adventures of the town’s boys, all under fourteen.  The boys are scrappy, plucky, and fun, and spend their days exploring town, splashing in the local waterhole, and generally doing the kinds of things boys did before they were shut up in classes for eight hours everyday.

The boys’ favorite play place is a dilapidated shed that belongs to the local railroad company.  They use the shed as their base of operations, and as a makeshift jungle gym.  However, they strenuously avoid one dark corner of the shed, in which resides The Shadown, an iridescent, subtly shifting, amorphous mass of malevolence.  The boys know, instinctively, to stay away from it, but otherwise tolerate its malignant presence.

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