It’s been a musical week here at The Portly Politico, so I figured, “why stop now?”
I’ve dedicated more and more space on the blog to musical and cultural matters, especially in the last year. Among the posts I most enjoy writing—and of which I am most proud—are those I write about music.
This week’s TBT feature, “Music Among the Stars,” is one I really enjoy, and I think (humbly) it’s one of my better posts. It’s about the golden records aboard the Voyager I space probe, and about the true purpose of music—to worship God.
What happens when a luxury transport ship on a routine voyage to Mars is thrown off course, set adrift on an endless voyage across the cosmos? That’s the premise behind 2018’s Aniara, based on the 1956 Swedish epic poem of the same name.
The answer, ultimately, is quite bleak. Aniara fits fully into the nihilistic ennui that Scandinavians—materially prosperous but spiritually adrift—relish so stoically. Seriously, the Swedes seemed obsessed with existential crises and a sense of meaningless in life. At its best, that gives us the likes of Danish Christian existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard; at its worst, it creates the kind of mindless pleasure-seeking the passengers of the film’s title ship indulge in here.
For all the film’s depressing messaging about the futility of life (to be fair, being trapped on an endless voyage in space, eating only algae to survive, would be a fairly depressing and psychologically destructive experience), it’s a fascinating look into how a society might develop, survive, and perish in the depths of outer space.
Today is the 99th edition of Lazy Sunday; it is also my birthday. I’m getting to that age where my birthday is still enjoyable, but also serves as a reminder that I’m on the wrong side of my thirties, slipping towards forty ever-faster.
It’s also that point in my life that I’m becoming more aware of my own mortality. Youthfulness compensated for poor dietary choices and succulent overeating in fifteen years ago; now, I’m feeling more and more the ravages of delicious indiscretions. I also find I don’t sleep as well (usually) as I once did, and I will ache in places that never bothered me before.
That said, I’m still fairly spry, and while my on-stage antics might not be nearly as acrobatic as they were in my twenties, I still manage to huff and puff my way around a stage—and onto coffee tables, if need be. Anything to entertain the crowd.
With that, I thought I’d celebrate Lazy Sunday and my birthday with some of my personal favorite posts:
“On Ghost Stories” (and “TBT: On Ghost Stories“) – Not surprisingly, I also love ghost stories. Indeed, the expiring Christmas season was, for the Victorians, a prime time for ghostly tales. The ancient bonds of memory and tradition that flow through Christmas make it the perfect time to contemplate our heritage—and the ghosts that haunt it.
“SubscribeStar Saturday: The Lost Art of Letter Writing” and “Update on Letter Writing” – I’ve discovered a new hobby, letter writing, and I’m hoping to do some small part to revive the practice. To date I’ve written around twenty-five or -six letters over the past three weeks—including one to a dog!—and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m planning on writing many more in 2021, and hope you, too, will join in on the fun and write letters to your friends and loved ones (or request one from me!).
We’re trucking one with more question-based posts in this third installment of Questions. This trio of posts is kind of fun (well, except the one about people with the goods on the Clintons ending up conveniently dead). I was trying to do these in chronological order based on their posting date on the WordPress site, but apparently the Space Force piece slipped through the cracks.
Here it is—with two other questioning posts—for your enjoyment:
“Why the Hate for Space Force?” (and “TBT: “Why the Hate for Space Force?“) – When President Trump announced the creation of Space Force—an independent branch of the military dedicated to the defense of outer space—I was over the moon (pun intended). It just makes sense—the next strategic frontier will be space. We don’t want the ChiComs pointing death lasers at us from low-earth orbit, right (or, more plausibly, disabling our communications satellites)? So I was surprised to witness the sheer mockery coming from the Left. Never mind their darling, John F. Kennedy, energized the space race in the 1960s.
“Clinton Body Count Rising?” – Everyone knows Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself. That so many people of all political persuasions know Epstein was murdered indicates the incredibly low level of trust in our society today. But it also points to the sinister nature of elites. The Clintons may be yesterday’s news in the Democratic Party, but their tactics have become the norm. Evil is infectious, and slippery.
“Saturn: The Creepiest Planet?” – I’ve written many times before about my love of outer space (see also—the post you’re reading). But I’ve always possessed a strange fondness for Saturn, that most elegant of the gas giants. Jupiter might hold the title for most regal, but Saturn is so stately, like a princess of the night sky. But according to radio signals emitted from the planet, it sounds super creepy—the point of this fun, throwaway post.
That’s it for this week. Keep watching the stars—and watching out for the Clintons. Gulp!
Since the dawn of this blog, space exploration has been a perennial theme. But it’s been awhile since I’ve featured space-based posts for Lazy Sunday. The last one was way back with “Lazy Sunday XII: Space,” which I wrote in May 2019.
With that, and after writing “Music Among the Stars,” it seemed like an intergalactically good time to revisit some more recent posts about the vastness of space:
“Music Among the Stars“- This post is about the golden records aboard Voyager 1, but it’s mostly about singing praises to God, the Creator of the Universe. It’s apparently a much-beloved post, so check it out!
That’s it for another Lazy Sunday. Here’s hoping yours is out of this world!
Back in 1977, NASA launched Voyager I, which is some 14 million miles from Earth. The super nerds behind the mission stowed two golden records on board. Those golden records included various selections to represent life on Earth, from “Johnny B. Goode” to nature sounds to classical music.
The former explores the possible deep origins of humanity’s music-making abilities. It posits several theories developed from evolutionary biology. As a Christian, I find these explanations ultimately wanting, though they each make interesting points (the second proposed theory, for example, suggests “that music arose because it was a social glue that helped our ancestors bond with one another and with a group”). Music serves many purposes, even if those purposes are not strictly utilitarian (and even then music can serve that function, such as coordinating workers’ movements via work songs).
Chiefly, though, music is intended to praise God. Like the other arts, music is God’s grant of a small sliver of His Creative potential to His Creation—Tolkien’s “sub-creation” of Middle Earth serving as a prime literary example. The highest form of musical expression, then, lifts up songs of praise to God.
We’re continuing our dive into the B-sides and deep cuts of the TPP oeuvre. For this Lazy Sunday, I decided to check out September 2019.
Whoa! What a gold mine of hidden gems and nuggets, forgotten in the tide of events. I didn’t realize how many good posts I generate during that first full month of the 2019-2020 school year. There’s enough for a couple of weeks, but here are three forgotten posts to tide you over until next Sunday:
“Remembering 1519” – With The New York Times‘s 1619 Project all the rage—a retelling of American history in which racism and slavery are the only pertinent factors in our grand national story—this post examined a piece from The Federalist about Hernan Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs in 1519. Rather than framing it as evil Europeans callously destroying the peaceful natives (any fifth grader can tell you the Aztecs were anything but peaceful), he flips the script to something closer to the Truth: the Catholic Christian Spaniards toppled a wicked regime built on human sacrifice and false gods. The Spanish weren’t angels, but they destroyed a great evil.
“Saturn: The Creepiest Planet?” – Quora inspired this post, and the site has now become a favorite of mine for people smarmily answering astronomy questions. The Solar System has always fascinated me, and Saturn in particular is alluring—so mysterious and regal, with its massive rings. I’ve even written a song, “The Rings of Saturn,” which I will hopefully record one day. The Quora post in question asked “What is the creepiest planet in our solar system?”; the answer, per a recording of Saturn’s electromagnetic waves, is Saturn. The embedded video to that recording is now, sadly, dead, but I’m sure some intrepid searching could turn it up.
“A Tale of Two Cyclists” – One of my more frivolous and cantankerous posts, this short screed denounces “spandex-festooned cyclists riding in the middle of a busy lane during rush hour.” Yet my sympathies are entirely with the second cyclist, “a black man of indeterminate age…. wearing street clothes, and riding what appeared to be a fairly rundown bike.” I have no problem with folks who use a bike as their primary means of transportation, lacking any other options. But these large groups of “cyclists” who ostentatiously hog entire lanes at 5 PM drive me batty.
That’s it for this Sunday! We’ll continue our exploration for at least another week, as there are some more goodies from September 2019 to explore.
In this blog’s long and storied history, I’ve been a consistent advocate of space exploration, with a particular interest in lunar colonization. An enduring frustration of this blog is that the United States has satiated its thirst for exploration with the numbing effects of consumer technologies. Yes, we can FaceTime one another from halfway around the globe and can set our thermostats remotely so the house is cooled down before we arrive—all wonderful conveniences—but is that truly the apex of human endeavor? Is being comfortable really the point of it all?
There was a time when we dreamed of exploring the stars, or at least of visiting our nearest celestial neighbors. But that drive for adventure dissipated—or, perhaps, exploded—sometime in the 1980s. The Age of The Virus further highlights our society’s obsession with safety, an obsession anathema to the derring-do necessary to explore the stars.
To paraphrase Bill Whittle, we’ll know we’re serious about space exploration when our graveyards are filled with astronauts.
The Lazy Sundays roll on! Today marks the first Sunday of Advent season, as we metaphorically prepare for the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But instead of doing a compilation of heartwarming holiday posts, we’re soldiering on with our “Best of the Reblogs” (see Part I and Part II).
“Reblog: The Normalization of Ugliness Inevitably Becomes The Denigration of Beauty” – This post was a reblog from the ultra-controversial Chateau Heartiste website, which was so full of edgelord red pillery that the SJWs at WordPress finally pulled the plug. While there was some truly despicable stuff at CH, it also hosted some hard, gut-punching Truths. The original post argued that we’ve gone to the extreme of accepting all sorts of grotesqueries not just as people, but as the new standard of beauty—to the point that having objectively beautiful people in advertisements is seen as “hate speech.” Of course we should love all people, but we don’t—and shouldn’t—pretend that everyone is pretty, or that every lifestyle is healthy.
“Reblog: Conan the Southerner?” – One of the many great posts from The Abbeville Institute, this bit of literary history detailed the development of Conan the Barbarian, and the muscular barbarian’s creator’s origins and upbringing in hardscrabble Texas. Conan is not just a wildman from the steppes; he’s a man of the Old South.
“Galaxy Quest II: Cox Blogged” – I wrote a post, “Galaxy Quest,” about our attempts to understand the vastness of our own galaxy. Longtime blog (and real life) friend Bette Cox linked me to some of her own work on astronomy and cosmology, and this post was an attempt to bring those writings to a (slightly) wider audience. I’ve been reading Bette’s material for about a year, and had no idea how much she wrote about astronomy, cosmology, and space.
That’s it for this week’s Lazy Sunday. Enjoy the start of the Christmas season.