Phone it in Friday XVII: Modern Homesteading

The weather is getting warmer—it hit a balmy 77 degrees at least one day this week here in South Carolina—and that means Spring is near.  Spring means gardening, and if I’m going to dive into the deep-end of converting my humble half-acre into a very small-scale farm, I’d probably better get crackin’ now.

As such, it was with great interest that I listened to an interview with Owen Benjamin, the stand-up comedian-turned-survivalist.  Benjamin is a controversial figure, and I don’t agree with some of his views, but, again, I can respect his knowledge in the area of homesteading without endorsing, say, his belief that the Earth is flat.

Regardless, Owen Benjamin’s message is a very Christian onedon’t despair about the wicked craziness of the progressive Left and the materialism of the modern world.  Instead, “crush” it—be your own man (or woman), build something for yourself and your family, and give glory to Christ JesusCreating culture is the way to save it.

With that preamble, I thought I’d share Benjamin’s recent interview with Blonde in the Belly of the Beast.  It’s a little over an hour long, but it’s worth your time.  One thing I learned is that growing some tomatoes and raising a few chickens is very easy, and that the barrier to entry for small-scale homesteading and farming is much lower than I initially thought.

Enjoy!

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TBT: Tarantulas and the Hygge

The weather in the mountains this past weekend was delightfully chilly, and it seems the cold up on Mount Mitchell has blown down into South Carolina.  In short, the weather is perfect—warm afternoons, and crisp, autumnal mornings.  I’ve been taking a cup of half-caff coffee in the afternoons after getting home from work and watering the garden, and it’s been glorious sitting on the porch and enjoying the coolness of the evening.

That first nip in the air is a sign that the hygge—the Danish concept of contented, warm coziness—is near.  It’s a time for bundling up and staying warm in old quilts with good books—and good company!  Food tastes better, coffee seems more satisfying, and my mind feels more alert and alive this time of year.

There’s also college football, which is nice, too—and Halloween!

So it seemed like a good time to look back to a post from March of this year, during South Carolina’s unusually cool—and longspring.  This post, “Tarantulas and the Hygge,” explored what I called “the weird side of the Internet,” traveling “down one of those byways of oddity.”

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Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus

The Age of The Virus is unprecedented.  Well, not entirely—major plagues and pandemics have swept the world before.  What’s unprecedented this time is the wholesale closure of the most commerce, along with rigid governmental and social admonitions to “social distance” and “shelter-in-place.”  Tin-pot municipal tyrants and State governors are engaged in a virtue-signalling race to see who can curtail liberties more rapidly and completely.

Pointing out this reality opens one to social scorn.  It’s amusing—and a bit frightening—to see the earnestness with which some Americans cling to their new mantras, the articles of faith handed down from the CDC and various government apparatchiks.  Even as our knowledge of The Virus seems to change daily, these public health acolytes cling to the every pronouncement from so-called “experts.”

Please don’t misunderstand me.  Yes, we should be vigilant about washing our hands and avoiding the accidental infection of one another, especially the elderly.

What concerns me is how quickly so many of us have been willing to accept greater degrees of control over our lives in the name of combating an invisible threat.  But now it feels like we’re living in the episode of Sliders called “Fever,” in which a totalitarian CDC cracks down on Los Angeles because, in that universe, penicillin was never discovered.

We’re not at Sliders levels—yet—but with that acquiescence has come an expansion of government power at nearly every level. I am not a libertarian, and I fully expect a robust federal response to a difficult international situation (remember, The Virus came from CHI-NA).  But that doesn’t mean local, State, or even federal authorities can simply hand-wave away the Constitution.

The Framers surely knew disease and death in their time.  When the Constitution was drafted in 1787, there was no capability for directing society with relative efficiency; even if there were, though, they would not have wanted to use it to suspend liberties.  The Framers surely knew there would be plagues and sickness in the United States, yet they included no clause such as “in the event of widespread sickness, these Articles contained heretofore in are, and of right to be, suspended until such time as the Congress shall deem suitable for public safety and the common welfare.”

Yet we see officials at the lowest levels of government telling people not just to stay home, but threatening to shut down churches and other assemblies.  Doesn’t that violate the First Amendment protections of freedom of religion and freedom of assembly?  Again, the prudent approach is for churches to accommodate the health of their congregants with remote services or other workarounds, but shouldn’t they be allowed to hold traditional services if they so choose?

The critics and medical scolds by now are howling with rage.  “What do these gossamer rights mean when we’re dead?”  Is that all anyone cares about?  What happened to Patrick Henry’s fiery cry of “Give me liberty, or give me death?”  What’s worse:  death from worshiping the Lord, or life in a soulless, gutless, freedom-less world?

I’m not alone in my assessment here.  Bill Whittle ripped into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this week, arguing that His Dishonor’s promise to shut down churches that continue to congregate would represent a high-handed assault on the First Amendment.  Even Whittle’s colleague Scott Ott thought Whittle’s defense of the Constitution was a bit rich, basically arguing that the Constitution can take a break during this outbreak.

I’m perceiving similarly expedient arguments among others on the Right.  It’s disgusting how many folks on our side are running like slavering dogs to lap up the crumbs of authoritarianism.  Whittle in the video above makes the compelling point that the Constitution functionally means nothing if any government official at any level can simply ignore its protections.  He also correctly points out that these rights are God-given, part of our very human nature.  No government can legitimately deprive us of them.

Another one of the saner voices is RazörFist, who also sees a great deal of big government chicanery in this pandemic (warning, Razör’s videos often contain strong language):

Z Man has also expressed skepticism about The Virus—or, at least, our draconian responses to it—and has received his share of scorn and dismissal.  But in his post Wednesday, “Fermi’s Paradox,” he made an interesting allusion to E.M. Forster’s novella “The Machine Stops,” originally published in 1909.  That short story (which I highly recommend you read—it has the same chilling effect as Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”) details a world in which humanity exists in a state of mindless, perpetual comfort, its every need attended to by The Machine.

In the story, humans have become so accustomed to cloistering in their little cells that they abhor face-to-face interaction, instead communicating via blue discs across great distances.  They are so dependent upon The Machine, they come to worship it (an interesting development, as their society has “advanced” beyond the “superstition” of religious belief—another subtle point from Forster).  They only travel on rare occasions, and avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Eventually, The Machine deteriorates, with disastrous results; I will likely write about the story in more detail next week.  For our purposes, it sounds eerily like our current society:  shelter-in-place, “Stay at Home” (as digital signs on the Interstate tell me, implicitly scolding me for being on the highway), watch Netflix, #AloneTogether, etc., etc.—we’re told to be comfortable and to crave safety and comfort above all else.  They are the highest goods.

We’re through the looking glass here.  I’ve been pessimistic that we’re even living under the Constitution anymore, especially after the intelligence agencies attempted to overthrow a sitting President.  Vestiges and scraps of it still reign, but they seem to be the exception.  And most Americans don’t seem to care, so long as they can watch TV, the WiFi is working, and there is pizza.

We’re no longer the Roman Republic, but we’re not the Roman Empire in the 5th century, either.  We’re more like the Roman Empire in the 2nd or 3rd centuries:  coasting along on the remnants of a functioning system, with a play-acting Congress shadowing the motions of republicanism.

I hope I’m wrong.  Regardless, wash your hands.

Mailchimp Monkeys with Molyneux

I purchased a new vehicle a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, I’m seeing Nissan Versa Notes everywhere (and they are not terribly common).  We’ve all experienced this sensation before:  we learn a new word, for example, and suddenly we hear it spoken frequently, when before it went unheard.

That’s the phenomenon I’m experiencing this morning:  no sooner did I write about Big Tech’s crippling control over our freedom of speech, e-mail service Mailchimp unceremoniously dumped Internet philosopher and YouTube personality Stefan Molyneux.  Molyneux hosts Freedomain Radio, which bills itself as “the world’s number one philosophy show.”

I’ve listened to a lot of Molyneux’s videos.  He’s not my favorite commentator, and he can be a bit rambling (not that I can judge him too harshly for that), but his demeanor and style are endearing, and his output is insanely prolific.  Within hours of a major news event, he’ll have a detailed, lengthy video breaking down the relevant information.  On top of all that, he hosts a live call-in show, from which he’ll derive videos that often ninety minutes in length.  It helps that his callers often have entertainingly tragic problems.

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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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Phone it in Friday III: Video Killed the Blogging Star

I’m heading up to Wilmington, North Carolina tonight to play a gigI played the same joint exactly a year ago, while I was living in a sleazy motel after my old place was flooded.  If you’re in the area, come on by, or check out my tour dates.

Regardless, your daily chum will continue in the vein of last Friday’s post, but with even less loving care.  In essence, I’m going to let you watch two talented individuals say important, insightful things.

It’s the blogging equivalent of pulling out that old media cart at school.  Everyone gets excited when the usual windbag kicks back and that tiny CRT television gets rolled out, its blue screen promising an hour of a grainy VHS tape.

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Phone it in Friday II: Boris, Bond, and Borders

It’s been a brutal workweek for yours portly.  “Brutal” is perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but it’s been busy, with a lot of late nights and early mornings.  Fortunately, I’ve been a painting dynamo, and all those music lessons and extra work are reaping dividends.

My planned post summarizing and analyzing the introduction to Richard Weaver‘s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, then, is going to wait until Monday, when I have a bit more mental energy to spare.  My students in History of Conservative Thought are writing an essay about the introduction to that book for their final class session, which is Tuesday.  It’s a dense read for high school students, so that post will help break down some of the main ideas for them.

Instead, this evening’s posts will be a rare “Phone if in Friday” featuring some pieces that crossed my transom today.  Enjoy!

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FreeSpeech.TV Lineup Announced

Thanks to my brother for this nocturnal news update:  Gavin McInnes’s new subscription-based service, FreeSpeech.TV, is ready to launch.  Listeners to the excellent, hilarious Get Off My Lawn podcast know that Gavin has been planning this platform for some time now, so it’s exciting to see the lineup.  The most exciting part of that schedule:  the twice-monthly sit-downs with Milo Yiannopoulos to talk about the news.  Talk about throwing gasoline onto a raging fire of awesomeness.

The service is $10 a month, or $100 a year, which is on par with Steven Crowder’s Mug Club or Ben Shapiro’s subscription.  I just don’t think it comes with a Leftist Tears Hot-or-Cold Tumbler, much less a far superior hand-etched mug.  But with McInnes’s crazy, controversial, humorous observations about life and culture, I can live without a drinking vessel tossed in (although it would be hysterical to drink coffee from a mug made to look like McInnes’s bearded mug).

Because of constant censorship from techno-elites and their ever-shifting “terms of services,” conservative and Dissident Right voices have fewer and fewer options to raise funds.  Some sites, like immigration patriot website VDare.com, can’t even use PayPal anymore.  As such, more and more content creators are turning to alternative or free-speech-friendly services, or undertaking the cost of creating their own infrastructure, so they can continue to get their work to fans.

I am definitely a small fry in this game of commentary, but that’s why I’ve setup a page with SubscribeStar.  My goal isn’t too live off of subscriptions, but just to supplement my income slightly to make blogging more on a daily basis more feasible (and to reinvest some of the funds into maintaining and improving the experience).

For guys like Gavin McInnes, who has been hounded from even supposed safe havens like his old employer, CRTV (now BlazeTV), reliable income streams aren’t a passing lark—they’re absolutely crucial.

In a better timeline, McInnes would be hosting Red Eye.  But he’s a fighter, and I have no doubt his new service will continue to deliver the laughs.

Free speech isn’t free.  Support creators like McInness, Crowder, Shapiro, and Milo to the best of your ability to keep their content alive.

If you’d like to support MY content, consider signing up for a subscription to my SubscribeStar page.  New, exclusive content every Saturday, starting at just $1 a month.

Ted Cruz on Ben Shapiro

It was a glorious weekend at Casa de Portly, deep in the heart of Dixie.  It was the kind of weekend that saw a lot of non-blog- and non-work-related productivity; in other words, I loafed a great deal, then did domestic chores around the house.

In case you missed it, on Saturday I released my Summer Reading List 2019.  If you want to read the whole list—and it’s quite good—you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page at the $1 level or higher.  There will be new, subscriber-exclusive content there every Saturday, so your subscription will continually increase in value.

Anyway, all that loafing and cleaning meant that I was unplugged from politics.  I did, however, manage to catch the Ben Shapiro Show “Sunday Special” with Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

I was a big fan of Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, and I voted for him here in South Carolina.  Cruz intuited the populist mood of the electorate the way that President Trump did, and combined it with policy innovation and constitutionalism.

There’s a reason Cruz hung in there as long as he did against Trump:  he’s a canny political operator, but he also knew how to pitch a conservative message that was appealing to many voters.  I sincerely believe that had he clinched the nomination, he would have won the 2016 election (and, perhaps, by an even wider Electoral College margin than did Trump).

Cruz catches a lot of flack because he’s a little dopey and looks odd—a whole meme emerged in 2015-2016 claiming that Cruz was the Zodiac Killer—but he’s been an influential voice in the Senate.  He possesses a supple, clever mind, and has urged Republicans to make some bold, innovative reforms to the Senate (he vocally champions and has proposed a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits).

The hour-long interview with Ben Shapiro—which opens with a question about his alleged identity as the Zodiac Killer—shows how affable and relaxed Cruz really is.  I’ve never seen him appear more relaxed and genuine (and I never took him for a phony—I’ve seen him speak live at least once at a campaign rally in Florence, and spoke very briefly to him afterwards) than in this interview.

Granted, it’s friendly territory—Shapiro was a big supporter of Cruz in the primaries—but Cruz spelled out some important ideas, as well as his projections for 2020.  If you don’t have a full hour, fast forward to about the forty-minute mark for his discussion of Trump’s reelection prospects.

To summarize them briefly:  Cruz thinks it all comes out to turnout, and that Democrats will “crawl over broken glass” to vote against Trump.  He even points out that his own race against Democrat Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke was as close as it was because Beto ran against Trump more than he did against Cruz.  He also thinks Joe Biden is going to flame out, and one of the more radical, progressive Dems will clinch the nomination, making the prospect of a truly socialistic administration terrifyingly possible.

That said, Cruz is optimistic.  Discussing his own narrow victory over Beto in 2018, he points out Beto’s massive fundraising and staffing advantages (Cruz had eighteen paid staffers on his campaign; Beto had 805!), but explains that a barn-burning bus tour of the State of Texas pulled out conservative and middle-class voters in a big way for his reelection.

That points to one of Trump’s strengths:  the relentless pace with which he campaigns.  Trump held three and even four rallies a day in key battleground States in the final days of the 2016 election, which likely made the difference in Michigan, Wisconsin, and the Great White Whale of Republican presidential elections since the 1980s, Pennsylvania.  If Trump can get his pro-growth, pro-American message out there as effectively in 2020 as he did in 2016 and can excite voters who want to protect their nation and their prosperity, he could cruise to reelection.

Cruz’s optimism, tempered by practical challenges ahead for Republicans, really came through in the video.  Really, the entire interview reminded me why I liked Ted Cruz so much the first time.  I’d love to see him remain a major presence throughout the next five years, and to see him run for the presidency again in 2024 (him, or Nikki Haley).

Regardless, I encourage you to listen to this interview.  Take Cruz’s warning to heart:  don’t get complacent, because the Democrats aren’t.