SubscribeStar Saturday: East Coast, West Coast

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An enduring question—perhaps the enduring question—of our present age is whether or not a peaceful political solution is possible to resolve our current issues.  Any casual observer of national politics cannot help but notice that there is a deep division in the United States, one grounded in (at least) two fundamentally opposed philosophies.

To the dissident—that catch-all term to encompass of any number of alternative philosophies or worldviews to the prevailing “progressive-conservative” dynamic—both modern progressivism and modern conservatism are two sides of the same coin.  Indeed, Buckleyite neoconservatism accepts, essentially, the basic tenants of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, ideas that serve as the foundation for modern progressivism, though the two interpret that foundation in wildly different ways.

Thus, there is a paradox:  modern conservatives largely share a worldview that is incompatible with that of modern progressives’; yet, there roots originate in the same soil of the interventionist state.  The difference, perhaps, is the fertilizer:  the Leftist progressive overwaters with “equality” (now, increasingly, “equity”); the conservative presents a more balanced mixture of equality, liberty, justice, etc.

(Indeed, these shared roots likely date back even further, to the liberalism of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries; again, both the Left and the Right evoke the tenants of such liberalism [“all men are created equal”] while disagreeing vehemently on how those tenants should be expressed in public policy [equality for the Left means egalitarianism and equality of outcomes; equality for the right means “equality before the God and the law”].)

That might make the possibility of some reconciliation seem possible—with shared roots comes some shared values, some shared history.

That’s the most optimistic view.  It’s one I do not share, but nor do I adopt the view that all is lost.  I believe that a blend of hyper-federalism, radical decentralization, and institutional control by dissidents could tip the balance in a positive direction.

The problem, of course, is that none of those goals is easy to achieve; some of them are currently inconceivable.  The federal government is unlikely to devolve more powers to the States (and many States probably secretly don’t want more); radical decentralization means losing out on corrupting but succulent federal largesse; and the institutions are firmly controlled by the Left—and not likely to rewrite the rules to let us challenge their supremacy.

So we come to a fundamental divide among dissidents:  what Curtis Yarvin calls the divide between West Coast dissidents (that includes Yarvin) and East Coast traditionalists (like me and, I suspect, photog at Orion’s Cold Fire) in his essay “The real Great Reset.”  The East Coast traditionalists believe that local control and working within the system can swing things in our favor and reverse course in the Culture Wars, what he calls voice; the West Coast dissidents believe that voice is useless at present, and instead reset—a total regime change of reset and replace is the answer.

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Belated SubscribeStar Saturday: Back into the Arena Again

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This post was meant to be published on Saturday, 17 July 2021, but I was out of town without Internet.  Apologies to subscribers for the delay.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a detailed update on Lamar Town Council.  Lamar is really a wonderful town, and a great place to live; we’re just experiencing a number of strains that are typical for a small town with an aging population.  Even so, Lamar is uniquely poised for a renaissance, given its proximity to I-20 and the major population centers in the region.

That said, there are some systemic problems that are making that renewal more difficult.  Progress is being made to address each of these problems in turn, but it’s slow and often piecemeal.  That’s no criticism of the fine people who work for the Town—they’re doing quite well—but it’s indicative of the kinds of pressures on time and resources the town is experiencing.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Dog Days: Early Reflections on Dog Ownership

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Note to subscribersI am still working on last Saturday’s post.  It should be up later today.

As I noted in the title to Wednesday’s post, this blog is going to the dogs.  Don’t worry—not forever, and not always.  But with the experience of fostering sweet Murphy still fresh, I wanted to take some time today to reflect on the past two days of dog ownership.

Naturally, it’s a bit early yet—the term of the foster is thirty days, and after which I am allowed to adopt the old girl if I so choose—but it’s already been a positive experience, both for myself and, more importantly, the dog.

Murphy is an old girl—she is eight-years-old as of June—and was caught up in, as far as I can gather, some family drama, leading to her placement in a shelter in Havelock, North Carolina.  The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission swooped in and got in touch with me, just a week after I’d put in an application to become a foster for the organization (you can read that story here).  As such, she’s been through a great deal in the past week, and is already inclined to be a bit more relaxed, given her advanced age (the life expectancy for bull terriers, per the American Kennel Club, is between twelve and thirteen years, though I frequently hear of bull terriers passing around the age of ten).

That means we’ve enjoyed a lot of short walks and long naps.  She’s definitely my kind of girl.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Homeownership

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I love home.  Being at home is one of the simple joys in life, especially for a homebody like me.  Even before I owned my own home—when I was a lowly renter—I cherished time in my little pre-deluge bungalow.

Owning my home has made that appreciation even deeper.  As I am sure I have written before, I can understand why the Framers of the Constitution required property ownership as a requirement to vote.  Sure, I understood it in the abstract before I owned my house, but the wisdom of that prerequisite became real once I became a homeowner.  There is an immense pride that comes with owning a home, and with it, a protectiveness:  a desire to guard that investment, and to nurture it.

Few people with that sense of protective pride would squander their rights easily.  I understand why that is better than ever.

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MAGAWeek2021: Washington’s Miraculous Escape from New York City

This week is MAGAWeek2021, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting Monday, 5 July 2021 and running through today (Friday, 9 July 2021), this year’s MAGAWeek2021 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

On Wednesday of this MAGAWeek2021 I wrote about the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, a key early victory for the Americans in our Revolution that protected coastal South Carolina from British occupation for four years, diverting the Redcoats to the North.  An unfortunate side effect of that victory was the increased concentration of British troops in and ships off the coast of New York.

Soon, General George Washington and the Continental Army found themselves besieged in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  The British General Howe had Washington’s forces surrounded and outgunned.  Facing total annihilation—or, even worse, surrender of the Continental Army just six weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington made the decision to evacuate his men across the East River onto Manhattan Island on the night of 28 August 1776.

At daybreak, only about half of the Continental Army had made it across.  Defeat seemed imminent, even after the daring river crossings in the dead of night.

But then, something miraculous happened.

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MAGAWeek2021: Red Meat

This week is MAGAWeek2021, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting today (Monday, 5 July 2021) and running through this Friday, 9 July 2021, this year’s MAGAWeek2021 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

Is there anything more delicious and American than steak?  Red meat is, perhaps, the finest meat God ever created.  Sure, pork and chicken are wonderful in their own ways—who doesn’t love pulled-pork barbecue?—but nothing beats a good steak.

Indeed, the noble Texas Longhorn is virtually a symbol for the Old West, just like the cowboys that guided him to market on the long drives of the nineteenth century.  The Texas Longhorn, according to Oklahoma State University’s Department of Animal Science, a product of natural selection, meaning the breed is the only beef cattle in the country that is not the product of human-guided animal husbandry or selective breeding.  Instead, the cattle adapted to survive specifically in North America, after cattle brought over by Christopher Columbus and early Spanish explorers made their way into what is now the American Southwest.

The Black Angus—a breed most Americans will recognize from endless restaurant adverts—is the most common beef cattle breed in the United States.  Grilling Black Angus steaks and burgers was no doubt a major part of many Americans’ Independence Day.

It’s no exaggeration to say that beef built the West, and fed the country in the process.

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MAGAWeek2021: Fireworks

This week marks the beginning of MAGAWeek2021, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting today (Monday, 5 July 2021) and running through this Friday, 9 July 2021, this year’s MAGAWeek2021 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

Yesterday marked the 245th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the United States were born.  In a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, John Adams wrote that the Second of July—the day the Declaration as a resolution passed the Second Continental Congress—would be

“the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with4 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Move that to the Fourth of July, and Adams was essentially describing our national celebration of America’s birthday.  The festivities that Adams described—with due allowance for “solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty”—are quite noisy and fun.

It’s little wonder, then, that a central part of our Independence Day celebrations—indeed, often the highlight of such celebrations—is fireworks.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Portly Politico Summer Reading List

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It’s that time of year again:  summer!  That means we’re due for The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2021!

After publishing the list a bit later than usual last year, I’ve decided that the list should be a midsummer event—just in time for Independence Day.

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:

With that, here’s The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2021:

1.) Thomas Harris, Hannibal (1999) – I recently wrote a review of the novel Silence of the Lambs, the second book in a series containing the charismatic, devilish cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  I very much enjoyed the novel, but having seen the film, I already knew many of the plot points.  That did not diminish the quality of the novel—Thomas Harris is an exquisitely descriptive writer—but it did take away some of the thrill.  The point of a good thriller is to be constantly in a state of suspense; when one already knows the major plot points, that sense of suspenseful uncertainty is diminished.

As such, I was quite excited to read Hannibal, the third installment in what might be called Harris’s “Hannibal Cycle.”  I did not know any of this story going in, beyond some whispers about the outcome of the magnet relationship between Dr. Lecter and FBI agent Clarice Starling.  The book takes place seven years after the events of Silence of the Lambs, with Dr. Lecter on the loose and living secretly as an academic in Florence, Italy.

Meanwhile, one of Dr. Lecter’s former victims, pig tycoon and sadist Mason Verger, has put a hefty bounty on Dr. Lecter’s head, and employs a ruthless team of Sardinian kidnappers—and a corrupt, disgraced Italian cop—to hunt down the fugitive.

Tossed into the mix is Clarice Starling, who finds herself increasingly disillusioned with the bureaucracy and careerism present in the upper echelons of the FBI and the Department of Justice.  Her mentor, Jack Crawford, is creeping towards retirement, and is no longer the robust agent he once was.  Meanwhile, a lecherous deputy attorney general—working hand-in-glove with Verger—sets about destroying Starling’s reputation at the Bureau, both to undermine her search for Dr. Lecter, and because she rebuffed his sexual advances.

Whereas Silence of the Lambs portrayed the FBI glowingly as a competent, professional organization with the means and tenacity to track down the slipperiest serial killers, Hannibal resonates much more with the modern reality of the FBI—a venal, corrupt organization that, rather than solving actual crimes, uses its power to oppress and harass law-abiding citizens.  The corruption on display, with highly-placed government officials attempting to advance their professional and political careers by working with wealthy scumbags, rings true.  In the eleven years between writing Silence and Hannibal, it appears Harris had a real change of heart.

Overall, I can highly recommend Hannibal.  Be warned that it is a long read, with 103 chapters and around 560 pages, but it’s rarely a slog and always a chilling pleasure.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Minecraft Camp 2021 Review

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My second camp for the summer, my annual Minecraft Camp, is in the books!  It came on the heels of my inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, which was a far smaller (and calmer) summer camp.

Minecraft Camp was the brainchild of a former colleague of mine, who did all of the initial setup, promotion, etc.  He invited me to join him for the inaugural Minecraft Camp in 2014, working as a counselor and assistant.  I owe him a huge debt of gratitude, as I took over the camp after he and his family moved a couple of years later.  The camp is a great deal of fun, but it also tends to be very lucrative; in some years, the camp’s net revenue is substantially more than my bring-home pay for a month (keeping in mind that I slam a solid two-thirds of my paycheck into retirement accounts).  It was quite costly when I was sick and missed camp during Summer 2020, but I was thankful that another colleague was able to step in to run the camp and make a few bucks.

This year’s camp was one of the biggest in the school’s history, surpassed, I believe, only with the very first camp in 2014.  In this post, I’d like to run through the basics of camp, then dive into some of the financials involved.  I’ll also include some very minor tech notes about which version of Minecraft we use, and which mods we’ve tried.

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