SubscribeStar Saturday: War Pigs

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My music students have been attempting to learn Black Sabbath’s classic anti-war song “War Pigs.” To be clear, this isn’t an example of a radical teacher attempting to indoctrinate his students with anti-war propaganda—it’s just a really rockin’ song (and features a killer, groovy introduction in 6/8 time, before transitioning to a brisk, sludgy 4/4). We were working on the tune before Russia invaded the Ukraine, and before there were really even murmurs that this quixotic invasion might happen.

Also, I am not reflexively anti-war. My instincts are to abhor war (which would have been news to my teenaged self, who still believed war was a glorious test of courage and mettle—it can be, but it’s much more complicated than that two-dimensional, chivalric notion I harbored as a doughy teen), but war is inevitable. The Bible prophesies about “wars and rumors of war,” and not all war is inherently bad.

It’s not all inherently good, either—sometimes war is just that—war.

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Major Loot

In 2014, Hobby Lobby purchased a tablet containing an excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest epic work of literature in Western Civilization.  The tablet is 3500-years old, and Hobby Lobby won the tablet in a Christie’s auction, paying $1.6 million for it.  Hobby Lobby displayed the tablet in its Museum of the Bible, which houses a number of rare and ancient artifacts.

Now, Hobby Lobby has forfeited the tablet to the US Department of Justice due to it shady provenance.  It seems that the original seller falsified a letter of provenance to show that the tablet had entered the United States before laws against importing rare artifacts were enacted.

To make matters worse, Christie’s apparently knew that the letter was questionable, but withheld that information.

Unfortunately, that means Hobby Lobby took one on the chin financially.  I’m not sure what the fate of the original smuggler is, but I imagine he’s long gone and living the sweet life.

The bigger question, though, is what should be done with such artifacts?  Current US policy seems to be to return them to their country of origin.  While that might seem to the be simplest policy, is it really best for the preservation of the artifacts—and our cultural heritage?

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Phone it in Friday VIII: Coronavirus Conundrum

It’s been another crazy week here in the world of yours portly.  The quarter is coming to a close, and I’ve got a mountain of ungraded quizzes and tests to slog through to appease the gods of higher education admittance.

Ergo, it’s time for a very special coronavirus (or “COVID19,” for your cool kids) edition of Phone it in Friday!

  • Tomorrow’s SubscribeStar Saturday will be a detailed rundown of what I’ve been doing to prepare for the extremely remote possibility that we all get quarantined in our homes and have to practice social distancing to avoid spreading the bug any further.  Here’s the short preview:  I bought a bunch of rice, beans, and spaghetti.
    • On that note, I’m yet again flummoxed by fears of everyday hunger in America.  Ten pounds of rice came to about $7; same with the spaghetti.  Twenty cans of beans cost around $12.  You can eat—maybe not well, but enough to survive and function—for a month for extremely cheaply.  Whining about “hunger” in the United States is a farcical outlier.
    • I am thankful to live in the United States, a country with the best medical system in the world, and the means to treat most diseases.  I’m optimistic that the virus will pass through quickly
  • Was it bat soup, or a Wuhan biological weapon?  Either way, I think we’ve seen the wisdom of the trade war with China, even though we weren’t anticipating something like a Chinese-created pandemic.  The coronavirus exposes the weaknesses and contradictions at the heart of China, and puts lie to the notion that this is a “Chinese century.”  I’ll be glad to be done with such rubbish.  The Chinese have come far, yes, but it turns out a totalitarian regime built on a culture of death and lying (“saving face”) can only snooker people for so long.
    • That doesn’t mean that China will no longer pose a threat.  Indeed, I believe China to be our biggest geopolitical competitor.  All the more reason to relocate industries back to the United States, or at least to friendlier countries like Vietnam, rather than deal with the Chinese.
    • For the best treatment of this subject, read blogger Didact’s essay “Corona-chan Comes for You.”  He spells out the economic threat of the coronavirus, and how the whole thing is likely the result of Chinese incompetence and the insane cultural concept of “face,” in which it’s better to lie (in the Chinese mind) than to risk bringing shame to your family.  Concepts like that make me glad to live in the United States.

My hope is that after all is done, China will be a pariah, no longer vaunted as a power on the rise, but maligned as a malicious, mendacious regime.

That’s it for this brief Phone it in Friday.  Wash your hands, stock up on dry goods, and stay healthy!

—TPP

Birth(day), Death, and Taxes

“Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes,” the old saying goes.  But we are also born, those of us fortunate enough not to fall prey to the abortion industry.  Today marks my thirty-fifth birthday.  I celebrated by paying $162.57 in vehicle property taxes to Darlington County, South Carolina.

Yesterday, I purchased a new vehicle, my first new car in thirteen-and-a-half years, and only the third I’ve ever owned.  It’s a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV.  The other two were a 1988 Buick Park Avenue Electra, which I bought from my older brother for $800, after my grandparents gave it to him one year, and a 2006 Dodge Caravan, which those same grandparents gave to me as a college graduation gift (after the Buick was totaled when a lady ran a yield sign and smashed into me).

The Buick is long gone, but I kept the Dodge.  I figure it’s worth more to me as stuff-hauler than I would have gotten in trade-in value.  Of course, that means maintaining insurance on both vehicles, and paying taxes on each.

Well, I awoke today to the news that our military assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleiman last night.  When I first read that Soleiman was “assassinated,” I was picturing a fate similar to the death of the “austere religious scholar,” the ISIS guy, al-Baghdadi: covert operatives swooping in under cover of darkness, swiftly and surely relieving the general of his life.

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Corporate Grind II: The Return of Corporate History International

It’s been a golden week for reblogging, as some of my blogosphere buddies continue to generate some amazing content.  It looks like I may have to do another Dissident Write feature soon (here are I and II).  Armistice Day always brings out the best material, too.

As we head into the weekend—mercifully free of professional obligations—I’m pleased to note the revival of my buddy fridrix’s blog, Corporate History International.

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The Leftist Pantheon, Part I: Environmentalism

I’ve written a good bit lately about the spiritual hole in the lives of many Westerners (see “The Desperate Search for Meaning,” as well as Parts II and III). A big part of Marianne Williamson’s appeal, for example, is that she casts political battles in spiritual and moral terms—a point on which she and I agree. I think President Trump, too, intuits that politics is about more than officious wonkery.

Progressivism offers a kind of fleshly faith for its sycophantic, virtue-signalling followers. But it is not a monotheistic religion; rather, it is a polytheistic cult with its own pantheon of gods and (often) goddesses of greater and lesser importance. Progressivism is a means to an end—power and dominion—so it can’t claim one central deity, as it seeks to cobble together multiple believers in a paradoxical pick-and-choose theology—so long as you pick from the approved list.

With all the scuttlebutt about teenage imp Greta Thunberg, the angry Apostle of Mother Gaia, I thought it might be interesting to delve deeper into the Left’s pantheon.

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Trade War with China is Worth It

There’s a lot of disingenuous scuttlebutt flying around about a looming recession, the inverted yield curve, and the costs of the trade war with China.  I can’t help but think such doom and gloom reporting is part of an effort to undermine President Trump.  Investor and consumer confidence are emotional, fickle things, based as much on feeling as they are on hard economic data.

As such, I suspect that major media outlets are attempting a bank-shot:  scare investors and consumers enough, and they panic into a recession.  President Trump’s greatest strength at present is the booming economy and low unemployment rate; take that away, and loopy, socialist Democrats have a much better shot in the 2020 elections.  With Leftists like Bill Maher actually hoping for a recession to unseat President Trump, that’s not a far-fetched speculation at all.

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Carnival Gets Even Lighter in the Loafers

There’s something inherently flamboyant about Latin cultures.  Maybe it’s all the hip-thrusting dances and melodramatic machismo, coupled with the passionate temperaments of the people.

Whatever the reason, Brazil just got even gayer.  Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled 11-6 last week in favor of criminalizing homophobia and transphobia.  Wrongthink regarding same-sex marriage and other issues will be treated as equivalent to racism.

Violent crimes committed against homosexuals are a problem in Brazil, so rather than prosecute those assaults and murders as such, Brazil will now treat them as “hate crimes.”  Apparently, simply enforcing the law isn’t good enough for gays, so to be treated like everyone else, they want special treatment.

A homosexual rights group in Brazil argues that their kind are subject to violent attacks, citing the deaths of 141 homosexuals in the tropical nation this year.  That figure is, of course, tragic, but consider the high-risk lifestyle associated with being gay, lesbian, or transgender.  We don’t often discuss these risks in polite company, but the gay lifestyle invites dealings with some shady characters—older gays grooming younger men for the lifestyle, dangerous “bed-hopping” activities, etc.

Part of this vote is, surely, a reaction to Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, a self-described homophobe.  I would never endorse treating homosexuals poorly—or, God forbid, attacking them—because of their sexuality, but it takes a certain amount of courage and bravado to straight-up call yourself a homophobe in 2019.

But I digress:  President Bolsonaro, the “Trump of the Tropics,” strenuously opposes gay marriage and the undermining of traditional Brazilian values.  We might disagree with his tactics here in the United States, but, to his credit, he’s seen what happens when homosexuality becomes normalized.

Consider:  here in the United States, deep-blue States were voting against legalizing same-sex marriage just fifteen years ago.  Now we have trannies reading pro-LGBTQ2+ books to pre-school kids in public libraries.  You can’t blame Bolsonaro for wanting to block his country from sliding down that same slippery slope.

The other part of this ruling must surely be the creeping secular-progressivism that seems to afflict ruling elites of many Western and Western-ish nations.  No good thing can go unsullied for long from the globalist tentacles of Soros, Inc.

Finally, it does seem that Bolsonaro’s popularity is fading.  But like Trump, he retains a die-hard group of core supporters, and it could be that the overwhelmingly enthusiasm of his historic campaign is merely dwindling as the difficult task of governance continues.

All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  That said, the aggressive attempts to normalize homosexual behavior and other alternative “lifestyles” are destructive to social stability and civilizational survival.  We shouldn’t be celebrating our own decadent embrace of decline.

The Impermanence of Knowledge and Culture: The Great Library and Notre Dame

On Sunday, blogger and antiquarian Quintus Curtius posted a piece about the famed Great Library at Alexandria.  The Library is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient War, and its destruction is an event that stands as one of the great cautionary tales of history.

Except, as Curtius points out, it wasn’t a single event.  Historians point to the accidental burning in 48 B.C., when Julius Caesar’s men’s burned Pompey’s fleet, and the flames spread, consuming a substantial portion of the Library’s connections.  Curtius mentions other events that may have damaged the Library, including Emperor Theodosius II’s decree to destroy pagan temples and buildings.

But, significantly, Curtius argues that it was centuries of neglect that destroyed the Great Library, rather than one single, spectacular event.  The burning of the Library in 48 B.C. makes for a dramatic story, but lack of maintenance, poor funding, and corrupt officials, Curtius contends, ultimately destroyed the Library.

To quote Curtius (emphasis is his):

The point is that libraries, like all institutions of culture, must be maintained and refurbished by every generation.  As I see it, the evidence points to a stark truth that tells us much about human nature.  The primary destroyer of the library, and perhaps of most cultural artifacts, was apathy.  How does this happen, in practice?  It is very simple.  It happens the same way official neglect happens today.  A new king or government minister would have said to himself, “I don’t think we need to allocate funds to the Alexandrian Library right now.  I have other priorities.  I would rather spend the money on ships, the army, or my new summer retreat.”  And this is how it starts.

Apathy—a general lack of care and concern for our cultural artifacts—destroys them far more effectively than book burnings.  Death by a thousand insouciant cuts, rather than the dramatic thrust of the sword, causes all things to wither away.

Having read Curtius’s piece (and a podcast related to it, which I cannot now locate), I very much had this topic on my mind when I heard about the tragic fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday.  I did not realize that the great cathedral is 850-years old.

Let that sink in:  it’s stood for nearly a millennium, surviving the Wars of Religion in France; the Thirty Years’ War; and the First and Second World Wars.  It also survived the French Revolution, which saw many churches destroyed or converted into blasphemous “Temples of Reason” throughout Paris and France.

Notre Dame is a powerful symbol of Western Civilization:  a bold testament of the faith and piety of a once-proud, Christian people.  A civilization that believes in itself and its God builds and maintains an edifice like Notre Dame.

We don’t yet know the source of the Notre Dame fire (at least, I don’t), and I’ve heard and read several explanations, from the careless (a dropped cigarette) to the, if true, quite wicked (Islamic terrorism; to reiterate, I am not claiming this was the cause of the fire, just that I’ve heard it insinuated).

What we do know is that France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised to rebuild the destroyed roof and upper level of the cathedral “in a way consistent with our modern diverse nation.”  I let out a moan of despair upon reading that phrase.

Notre Dame is a not a symbol of a “modern diverse nation,” nor should it be.  The only universalism it embodies is Christ’s universal Love for all of humanity.  Beyond that, it is a symbol of the French people, and of Christendom.  I am not convinced that the “diverse” Maghreb and Bedouin tribesman of the banlieues are deserving of that patrimony.

The West is constantly bending over backwards to accommodate foreign cultures in a show of cosmopolitan hospitality, but the favor is never returned.  Unassimilated migrants and “refugees” don’t deserve architectural “representation” in a building that never would have been built were it not for Charles “The Hammer” Martel.

Knowledge and culture are both one generation away from darkness.  Westerners should understand the deep roots of our civilization, and protect it at all costs.  That means teaching it to our children, and instilling them a love of and reverence for our institutions, culture, and faith.