Midweek Short Story Recommendation: “The Visit That Wasn’t”

Good old Terror House Magazine continues to publish some of the best short fiction being written today (including my own absurdist writing), and it’s my pleasure to recommend another story by one of their contributors, Adrian David‘s “The Visit That Wasn’t.”

The story is a short parable riffing on the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.”  Visitors to the protagonist’s land keep telling him how terrible and crummy the place is, and instead brag about the greatness of their home.

The glowing talk of the visitors’ homeland churns away in the mind of the protagonist, until he finally decides to pay a visit.  What he finds depresses and angers him:  nuclear war, corruption, violence, declining birth rates, normalization of pedophilia, famine, depravity, etc.

Feeling cheated, the protagonist returns to his own home, and realizes how much he took it and its charms for granted—but there’s a twist (I recommend reading the story, which takes about three minutes, for the full impact; twist revealed below).

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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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Galaxy Quest II: Cox Blogged

Following yesterday’s post on the galaxy, blogger buddy Bette Cox—who was also my predecessor as Secretary of the Florence County (SC) GOP—shot me an e-mail with links to some of her own writings on astronomy, the galaxy, and faith.  I wanted to share a few of those pieces with you today.

Bette is a prolific writer, and maintains a dizzying array of blogs.  She contacted me with some excellent feedback on my first Nehemiah essay, which prompted a follow-up incorporating her remarks.  She writes beautifully about faith at Esther’s Petition, and about the fulfillment of end-times prophecy at Tapister.

What I did not realize, until yesterday, is that Bette writes extensively about space—one of my favorite topics—at another blog Speaking of Heaven (her main blog, Bette Cox, is also dedicated to space).  Her writings about the intersection of space exploration and faith are particularly thought-provoking.

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Monday Morning Update

Today’s post is a bit of a grab-bag.  I spent most of the day Sunday finalizing grades for the first quarter, which ended Friday.  Now we’re in the brief eye of the storm:  all the tests are graded, comments written, and grades keyed; I quietly await the blustering winds of angry parents and more student papers.

The blog is nearing its 300th day of posts.  Regular readers will notice I’ve shifted away from politics slightly, expanding my horizons to astronomy, literature, music, festivals, and the like.  Writing about politics and the culture wars constantly will wear on you—staring into the abyss and all that.

So, I thought I’d ease into Monday with some reflections on the blog as we approach 300 consecutive days of posting.

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Support Milo

I hold a soft spot in my heart for conservative gadfly and Internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.  I recall fondly his heyday in 2015-2016, when he championed free speech in the Babylon of Progressivism, Berkeley, California.  I still wish President Trump would appoint him White House Press Secretary—it would be must-see TV every day.

Behind the flamboyant, cartoonish homosexuality and the over-the-top trollery, though, is a talented journalist and writer; indeed, Milo’s work is some of the best long-form journalism I’ve ever read.  His writing, like his public speaking, is engaging and well-researched:  he really checks his facts and his sources, while still delivering that withering Coulterian death strike upon his unfortunate target.

Unfortunately, even fewer Americans will have the opportunity to read his work, as he’s apparently sold his website, Dangerous.com.

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Lazy Sunday – APR Pieces

It’s been a busy weekend, so I’m very far behind on today’s post (about twelve hours late!).  That said, I’m worn out, so I’m phoning in this Sunday’s post.

I used to be associated with an online radio station, American Patriot Radio, in a mild way:  I would occasionally fill-in for the station’s most popular host, and I contributed some pieces for the site’s blog.

There’s no good way to navigate to these pieces on the site now, but they are, remarkably, still there.  I do not know the current status of the station, but while seeking out these pieces, I heard some streaming audio, so it may still be active, or it may be recycling old content.

Regardless, I thought it would be worthwhile to link to my writings there, as they reflect the heady days of early 2017, when the young Trump presidency seemed full of promise, and it looked as though populist uprisings would continue all over the globe.

Enjoy this grab-bag/impromptu archive of TPP submissions to APR.

8 May 2017 – “A Disheartening, but Expected, Defeat” (about the defeat of National Front candidate Marine Le Pen to France’s current president, Emmanuel Macron): https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/08/a-disheartening-but-expected-defeat/

8 May 2017 – “Pat Buchanan’s America” (about the impact of Pat Buchanan’s economic and foreign policy thought on the Trump ascendancy): https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/08/pat-buchanans-america/

9 May 2017 – “A New Conservatism?” (a rumination on the future of conservatism, and the possibility of a new “fusionism” to include Trumpism): https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/09/a-new-conservatism/

10 May 2017 – “Comey-tose” (about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, as well as a brief discussion of my frustration with National Review‘s hand-wringing over decorum):  https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/10/comey-tose/

Enjoy this self-indulgent blast from the recent past.

–TPP

Civilization is Worth It

The New Criterion, which I have touted before on this site, is an excellent, conservative publication dedicated to the arts and culture in all their forms.  I picked up a subscription (since lapsed, sadly) a couple of years ago at a deep discount, and enjoyed its strong, engaging writing immensely.  I don’t know anything about—nor have I ever seen—an opera, but the critics at New Criterion make me want to attend one.

One great resource at New Criterion is their “Media” page, which includes all of their audio articles.  These are articles read aloud by professional readers, and they make for wonderful listening while you’re going about your day, from painting walls to picking through the soggy remnants of your life.

Monday evening, New Criterion posted an audio article written by the publication’s editors.  It’s title:  “Is Civilization Overrated“?  Their conclusion, by way of reductio ad absurdum, is that, no, it isn’t, but I highly recommend you give it a listen; there’s a lot of John-Jacques Rousseau bashing, as the piece explores the destructive philosopher’s impish assertion that we were all better off foraging for berries and getting killed by saber-toothed tigers.

That question, though—is civiliation “overrated” or “worth it”—is an interesting one nonetheless.  I suspect that most everyone would say, “Well, sure,” and not give it much more thought.  But the contra argument is, at least fleetingly, interesting.  It’s also highly instructive of the thought-process of the modern Left.

I occasionally adjunct teach at a local technical college, and some years ago I had the opportunity to teach the first portion of Western Civilization survey course.  That course, naturally, started with a quick overview of prehistoric times and people in the Near East, and what pre-agricultural societies were probably like.  We then looked at the Neolithic Revolution and the rise of settled or semi-nomadic agriculture.

It was at this point that I caught a subtle but distinctive bit of the “civilization-isn’t-worth-it” mindset.  The textbook—which, sadly, I cannot quote from directly because flooding displaced me from my humble, scholarly bungalow—featured a section that went something like this:  with the advent of agriculture and settled societies came social hierarchies (true); that increase inequality (true enough, but the book makes it seem like an inherently negative development), including inequality between genders (that probably existed before agriculture); and settled agriculture began environmental degradation (again, probably true, but it also meant more human lives entering the world).

The whole passage—which I will have to quote at length when I have the book back in my possession—heavily insinuates that civilization was a raw deal; that the whole thing was a sham to bamboozle the weak into following the strong; and that men and women somehow existed in a mythical state of equality that would make the most strident radical feminist cry tears of pure Subaru Outback engine oil.

This mindset, I suspect, pervades a chunk of the modern Left, who un-ironically decry global warming (or is it cooling, or climate change?) while jetting around in gas-guzzling private jets to climate conferences.  There’s a certain naturalistic fallacy at play that is highly seductive, but ultimately facile.

I remember a conversation with my father when I was maybe seventeen, an age full of angsty brooding and doughy fatness.  I basically said, “Dad, I feel like I shouldn’t have to worry about trigonometric functions, and instead should let those motivated to solve them do it while I live in a state of naturalistic ecstasy” (okay, that wasn’t verbatim what I said, but you get the gist of it).  At seventeen, such an idea is seductive, and largely reality—someone else is bringing in the money while you play Civilization II instead of doing your math homework—but you grow out of it.

Except, apparently, for academics, the only folks educated enough to believe in fifty-three different genders and that “democratic” socialism works.  I (thankfully) grew out of my whining, which was really just an elaborate scheme to avoid doing any actual work myself—which might be the motivating factor behind Leftism after all.

Regardless, civilization seems imminently worth it.  Just ask anyone who has ever had a loved one saved through the miraculous technology of modern medicine.  Consider, too, that you’re probably reading this piece while streaming music from your phone, checking the weather, and eating a breakfast you didn’t have to kill with your bare hands after running it down for eight hours.

Are you wearing glasses right now?  At one point, you probably would have been left in the cold to die—your weakness was too costly for the rest of the tribe.  Do you have weird, probably made-up gluten allergies?  Well… maybe you would have been okay in a pre-agricultural age, but they still should have shunned you.

Ultimately, I’d much rather live in a world that produced J.S. Bach than a Stone Age pit full of atonal grunting.  It says something about the state of our civilization that the atonal grunts are back in vogue.

Hyper-dependence on technology is not without its pitfalls, and we should work to improve civilization to work more efficiently and to put humanity first (only after God), but a base reversion to an anarchic, Rousseauian “state of nature” is a fool’s dream.  It would only result in more death and heartache.

So get out there and compose some sonatas.  Civilization is worth it!

Dissident Write

I possess the bad habit of reading constantly.  That might seem like a virtue—or a lame rhetorical device to get your attention—but it has developed into a minor problem.

My tendency towards bookishness doesn’t just limit itself to the classic “chubby-bespectacled-kid-reading-in-the-car” stereotype, although that’s true.  Ever since I got my first smartphone (a beautiful Lumia I picked up for $32.23 running the Windows Phone OS, well after Windows lost any kind of developer support) in 2016—I was very late to the game there—I can’t stop reading articles, op-eds, news stories, fiction, eBooks, and the like wherever I am.

That doesn’t make me particularly more intelligent (or interesting), but it has exposed me to some writers who are.  More specifically, I’ve come to learn of a number of writers and websites whose writings are provocative, engaging, daring, and fun.

So much of what we read and consume online and in print media is dull, predictable, and morally indignant.  There’s a great deal of lifeless writing and commentary, and it’s frustrating to read writers—on the Left and the Right—who fall into the same grooves.

The Left is full of examples, as they doctrinaire Leftists aren’t allowed to say anything outside of the fashionable-for-the-moment-until-we-condemn-it-in-a-few-years orthodoxy.  If one of them ever-so-slightly speaks out of turn, they’re kicked out of the club.

The ones that bother me the most are writers on the Right who have fallen into predictable patterns (the biggest offender that pops immediately to mind for me is National Review‘s David French, the most noodle-wristed combat veteran I’ve ever read; with all due and much-deserved respect to French’s heroism and service, he’s grown increasingly lame and ineffectual as a writer).  I understand writers have to carve out their niche, and that they shouldn’t violate their principles just to be different, but I want to see some gutsiness.

On that note, and in the spirit of my 2016 TPP Summer Reading List, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite writers, the ones that I clamor to read when I see they’ve written something new in my RSS feed (disclaimer:  I don’t agree with all of these writers’ conclusions—of course!—which should go without saying):

1.) Patrick J. Buchanan – Pat Buchanan was President Trump’s John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness at the dawn of a globalist era, warning of what was to come, and foretelling the coming of one greater than himself (please, don’t think I’m comparing Trump to Jesus; the metaphor breaks down at that point).  Buchanan was calling out the shortcomings of massive free-trade zones and the like since the early 1990s.  His book Death of the West is a must-read for every American—if you’re not worried about massive, unchecked immigration now, you will be after reading this prophetic tome.

Buchanan is more isolationist than I would be on foreign policy, but he brings an important perspective to the discussion of international relations.  Buchanan has colored, if not entirely changed, my views on tariffs, family policy, immigration reform, and foreign policy.

He’s nationally-syndicated and appears on a ton of websites, including Taki’s Magazine, the home of several writers on this list, such as…

2.) Jim Goad – Holy crap.  Talk about a gutsy, controversial, in-your-face writer.  After reading one of Goad’s acerbic pieces, you practically have to wash your brain with holy water.  But, damn, can he write.

Goad is the grandfather of modern dissident writers.  He cut his chops as an ultra-edgy zine publisher in the early 1990s, back when weirdos who couldn’t fit into mainstream society could publish bizarre stories and borderline-pornographic material and become part of a cool counterculture.

Goad doesn’t pull any punches—he wrote a whole book called The Redneck Manifesto—and I can’t do better than to recommend you read him for yourself.  Just make sure you’re not at work.

3.) Ann Coulter – I cut my l’il conservative teeth reading Ann Coulter, who was a hard-hitting conservative polemicist before it was cool.  She completely and unabashedly called the 2016 election with an audacious level of confidence.

Coulter catches a lot of flack because she’s a.) super conservative and b.) incredibly caustic.  Her writing is so satirical and witty, most Lefties often miss (or willfully misinterpret) her clear-as-a-bell message.  I once got into a minor Facebook dispute with an ultra-hip progressive musician (buy his music; he’s an amazing songwriter) who drew the conclusion that Coulter was racist, even though she was denouncing racism in the very paragraph he posted.  It was to no avail (but you really should buy his music).

Yes, she’s a bit prickly.  Yes, she gets carried away with her political endorsements sometimes (she’s publicly stated her regret for being an early fan of disgraced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—it’s okay, Ann, me, too).  But, like Goad, she doesn’t pull any punches, and she will take the conservative message into the lion’s den and back—fearlessly.

Coulter’s two chapters on the French Revolution in her book Demonic consist of one of the best overviews of the topic I’ve ever read.  Written in typically Coulter-ish style, she goes into macabre detail to illustrate how truly evil the French Revolution was.  There are many excellent scholarly works on the French Revolution, but few offer so much intense, damning clarity to the calamitous 1790s.

4.) Gavin McInnes – current CRTV host and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes is my hero.  He’s single-handedly made traditional family values punk.  McInnes possesses a boyish, mischievous spirit that public schools and soy-rich diets have bred out of modern men.  His memoir, Death of Cool, had my sides splitting with every paragraph.  If you want to know how to live hard and survive, pick up a copy.

McInnes is the son of Scottish immigrants to Canada, and he grew up pretty much doing whatever he wanted in a poorly-supervised suburb of Toronto.  When his first child was born, he became a Christian—he’s Roman Catholic—when he saw her heel.  He asked, “How did that come about by accident?”  That was after a life of founding and losing several fortunes; sleeping—in graphically depraved ways, according to his telling—with what seems to be hundreds of women; taking lots of drugs; and fronting several popular Canadian punk bands.

And everyone says conservatives are boring old white dudes.

I don’t know if McInnes is writing now that he’s with CRTV, but you can find his archives on Taki’s Magazine.

5.) Christopher DeGroot – Rounding out our list is Christopher DeGroot, another regular at Taki’s Magazine.  I don’t know much about DeGroot’s background, but he’s one of the best writers on issues of gender relationships out there.  There’s a whole “manosphere” dedicated to promoting and discussing ideas of traditional masculinity, but a great deal of that world is dominated by pick-up artists (PUAs) and sex addicts—and even racists (real ones, not just normal conservatives who get called racist because we want people to have less government intrusion into their lives).

DeGroot is a wordy, philosophically-minded writer, and you can tell he thinks deeply about everything he pens.  Most contributors to Taki’s write—I would guess—around 700-800-word essays, maybe hitting 1000-1200 now and then.  I’m pretty sure everything DeGroot has written is at least 1200-1500 words.  Talk about getting more bang for your buck.

Again, all I can do is recommend you check him out.

***

That finishes up this list.  It’s certainly not exhaustive—I will have to do a “Part II” at some point—but it’s a good, quick look at who I’m reading on a daily or weekly basis.

One parting warning:  I’m not responsible for blown minds from reading the works of the above writers.  Draw your own conclusions, and share your favorite writers—non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.—below!