Phone it in Friday XIII: Come on Get Happy

It’s been another wild Friday afternoon of funcling, so I’m resorting to phoning it in once again this evening.  I spent the morning at the doctor’s office for my annual wellness visit, got an end-of-summer-vacation haircut, and finished up my Pre-AP Music Zoom sessions.  Since then, I’ve been knee-deep in babies for the second day in a row.

While I was driving all over the Central Savannah River Area, I tuned in to Z Man’s weekly podcast, which pops Friday mornings.  The show this week is called “Happy Happy Fun Time,” in which Z Man shares a message I promoted a few weeks ago:  despair is a sin, and we have much for which we can give thanks.

Z himself can over a jaundiced, cantankerous perspective on the world, a la H.L. Mencken (whom he clearly admires).  But Z’s argument is straightforward:  if we just focus on politics, all the time, we stop being fun.  Life is for the living, and many folks on the Dissident Right tend to get so bogged down in the seeming hopelessness of the Leftist-dominated culture wars, they cease enjoying life.

NEO at Nebraska Energy Observer attributes a similar nugget of wisdom to one of his regular contributors, Audre Myers.  It’s also the guiding principle of Gavin McInnes (and, to an extent, Milo), who laments how much more fun life used to be before the Leftists sucked all of the joy out of it.  Z points out that the Left wants us to despair because their lives suck.  Their unhappiness is, to some degree, why they are Leftists in the first place.

It’s well worth setting aside an hour to listen to this episode of Z Man’s podcast, The Z Man Power Hour.  So I’m dedicating this post to just that:

Happy Friday!

—TPP

Walkin’

Yesterday morning, longtime Nebraska Energy Observer contributor Audre Myers shared a charming post, “Walking …“—a reflection of the late 1960s and Woodstock.  Regular commenter Scoop posted an achingly nostalgic response that sums up the significance of Woodstock to that cohort of early Boomers—it was the last incandescent burst of rock ‘n’ roll’s triumph before petering out in the 1970s (which, I would argue, is when hard rock got good).

The tug of nostalgia is a strong one.  I’m only thirty-five, and I already feel it from time to time.  Indeed, I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgia, which a psychologist might argue is one of the reasons I studied history.  Perhaps.  I also just enjoy learning trivia.

Regardless, Audre’s post caught my attention because I have been contemplating the literal, physical act of walking lately (although I often take metaphorical strolls down memory lane, too).  I’ve put on a bit of weight in The Age of The Virus, so I’ve taken up walking as a way to complement a regimen of calorie counting (which is more of a loose, back-of-the-envelope calorie guesstimate each day).

I’m trying to get in around two miles of focused walking a day, mostly around Lamar.  Although work commitments don’t always make that possible, I do find that simply going about my work results in around two miles of walking in aggregate.  I’m curious to see what my step totals will be once the school year resumes, and I’m dashing about between classes, pacing the rows of students, and striding across the boards as I teach.

I’m not a runner, by any means.  My older brother loves to run, and has the physique to show for it.  More power to him, but I know myself well enough to know it’s not something I want to do.  Runners swear oaths to running’s efficacy and delights, but gasping for breath in 100-degree weather with maximum humidity doesn’t appeal to me.  Walking at a brisk clip in that weather, though, is at least bearable—once I’ve embraced the stickiness and the sweat, I can go for a couple of miles easily, and sometimes three or four.

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TBT: Ideas Have Consequences – Introduction

Yesterday was the last session of the Summer 2020 History of Conservative Thought course.  This summer marks the second run of the course, and it was a fantastic class.  I had three young men enrolled, all quite eager to dive into the material.

I try to avoid lengthy lectures in HoCT, giving the basic background information and scaffolding necessary to put the readings into context.  I want the works to speak for themselves, and for the students to the do the heavy lifting of sussing out meaning and the author’s ideas.  Each week students wrote a short essay or answered a few different guided questions, then we would come in and discuss the material.

With this summer’s group, that model worked very well, as two of the young men in particular loved to plunge into discussions and ask questions.  One of the students was concurrently taking a colleague’s popular Terror and Terrorism course, which leads off each summer with the French Revolution.  That always dovetails nicely with our discussion of Edmund Burke, as we read several excerpts from his Reflections on the Revolution in France.  Burke comes on the heels of our discussion of Russell Kirk’s conservative principles, and helps frame the early portion of the course in the Burkean tradition.

In July, we left the nineteenth century and began looking at the modern conservative movement, with a heavy emphasis on William F. Buckley, Jr., and the notion of fusionism.  Buckley’s National Review catches a good bit of flack on the Right these days, including from this blog, but it truly shaped conservatism in the second half of the twentieth century.  Before National Review, conservatism was a disorganized, disunited hodgepodge of various ideologies, movements, and issues—it was, as Lionel Trilling put it, a “reactionary impulse,” a grumpy attitude about the way things were, but without a cohesive understanding of how to combat the dominance of New Deal liberalism.

For all its noodle-wristed hand-wringing and desperate virtue-signalling today, National Review created the modern conservative movement by giving conservatives their voice, their publication.  It also gave conservatism a politically viable platform of issues that could win in national politics.  That focus on nationalism certainly cuts against the Kirkean/Burkean mold of organic, ordered liberty, but it was the reality of post-war American political life.

We ended with another mid-century conservative, but one fitting far more into the spiritual and moral mold of Burke and Kirk, and far less in the neoliberal and materialist mold of Buckley-style fusionism:  Richard Weaver’s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, which I consider one of the greatest books ever written.  Indeed, I’m a bit of a Weaver fanboy, as he’s been featured twice on my Summer Reading Lists, first in 2016 for Ideas Have Consequences, and again in 2020 for his collection of Southern Essays.

For the course, we just read the “Introduction” to the book, which I try to read every August before school resumes.  It reminds me why I teach, and what is at stake.  Reading Ideas Have Consequences—first published in 1948—today reads like prophecy fulfilled.  Weaver’s core focus on William of Occam as the source of modernity and its related ills might seem a bit far-fetched, but that’s merely the germ from which the analysis of modernity’s fallen view of the world grows.

The real heart of Ideas Have Consequences is the abandonment of the transcendental—of God—in favor for navel-gazing particularism, a constant focus on lower, material concerns.  Unbound from any obligation to or belief in a transcendental moral order, men are left adrift in a world full of isolation, alienation, confusion, and meaninglessness.

I’ll let the rest speak for itself.  Here is 29 July 2019’s “Ideas Have Consequences – Introduction“:

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Law and Order?

It’s an election year, in case you’d missed that point, and our man Trump is up for reelection.  Trump is not doing well in the polls at the moment, but George H. W. Bush was similarly down against Michael Dukakis at this point in 1988, and won in a blowout victory.  Of course, Dukakis was an exceptionally feeble and excessively nerdy politician, and Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton ad was a gutsy, effective attack on Dukakis’s program of weekend release for prisoners.

1988 was also a very different America.  Even 2016 seems like another world.  Trump’s election was the paradigm shift of our age, spawning four years of constant resistance from progressives and neocons alike.  Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton before him, enjoys the full support of the media and the institutions; even in his advancing senility, they are determined to drag him into the White House, where he will serve as a dull-witted, mentally-diminished puppet for every crazy Left-wing policy ever concocted in the faculty lounge of a women’s studies department.

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Catching Up

I’ve returned from Universal Studios, and will be writing the SubscribeStar-exclusive post promised on Saturday sometime this evening.  It was a very fun trip, and was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family.

Of course, as with any trip, now I’m playing catch up after enjoying nearly a week of good food, good family, and good times.  I’m teaching a new Pre-AP Music Appreciation course this academic year, and begin online training with four Zoom sessions starting tomorrow.  That means today I’ve got to work through some online modules to be prepared for the first session.

I’m also clearing out a backlog of e-mails.  It’s remarkable how quickly it all piles up after just a few days.  My junk account is bursting with solicitations, most of them truly garbage.  But I’m also catching up on some work and personal correspondence, so if you’ve written to me over the past week, don’t fret—I will respond as soon as possible.

Returning from this trip marks the beginning of the end of summer vacation.  I still have a couple of weeks of summery freedom remaining, but the tempo of work-related activities will only increase from here on out.  I will, of course, continue posting to the blog daily, but posts will likely be a bit shorter as the school year resumes.

I’ll have some updates and information soon about how school is resuming in The Age of The Virus.  That was the topic of some discussion on photog’s blog, Orion’s Cold Fire, back on his 11 July 2020 update post.  It will be quite interesting to see how different States and school districts handle the return.  My little private school is planning on resuming as normal, just with way more sanitation and some social distancing and such.  Again, more details to come.

That’s about it for today.  I’ll be getting into some meatier substance soon, but some gossamer fluff is surely allowable from time to time.

God Bless,

TPP

Old-School Fun

While on vacation, the last thing I want to think or write about is all the unpleasantness in the world.  If I’m having fun (and, presumably, I am!), why not my loyal, dogged, faithful, persistent, lovable readers?  (After all that flattery, why not check out my SubscribeStar page, hmmm?)

My local paper ran a story on Monday about the discount cinema in Florence, the Julia 4.  Because fun is outlawed in The Age of The Virus (yes, yes, I know I’m at Universal Studios—it’s a joke), we can’t see movies anymore.  The Julia’s solution:  become a drive-in theater.

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TBT: Phone it in Friday VI: Universal Studios

Today I am back at Universal Studios!  I didn’t expect I’d be back so soon, but Universal has lifted their Season Pass blackout dates for Summer 2020 due to The Virus, so my brothers and our significant others and I decided to take advantage of it and come down for a few days.  It’s always fun with the niece and nephews, too.

As my younger brother put it, we’re probably safer strolling around Universal Studios than eating at restaurants (which we’ve all been doing to some extent), as the park is sanitizing everything in hyper drive.  We’re also all masked up, and social distancing is in force—all the usual protocols we’ve come to endure in The Age of The Virus.  Why not enjoy safety and spectacular theming?

This week’s TBT features the first Phone it in Friday to make it to TBT (that I can recall).  I’ve just finished four Sundays of PiiF retrospectives (here, here, here, and here), so readers of “Lazy Sunday LXIX: Phone it in Fridays, Part III” may remember this post about our February 2020 trip to Universal Studios.

With that, here is “Phone it in Friday VI: Universal Studios“:

As I wrote yesterday, I’m out on a rare vacation (other than ChristmasSpring Break, all summer, and every second- and third-tier holiday that falls on a Monday in the winter).  I’m down in Florida visiting Universal Studios Orlando with my family, and it’s been an amazing, tiring trip.  I tried filing away blog posts for while I was away, but couldn’t get enough done to have every day of my trip covered.

That said, we got back from Day 2 in the park a little while ago, and I’m slamming something out while playing with Mario Kart Hot Wheels with my almost-three-year old nephew.  Here are just some observations from my vacation.

  • I love Universal Studios.  The highlight has been riding rides with my niece and my nephew.  One of the first rides we rode was E.T.  It’s definitely an older ride, but the nostalgia factor and magic really make it an incredible ride.  Riding it with my niece was probably what I was most looking forward to doing on this trip.
  • That and the Pteradon Gliders ride, which adults can only ride if they have a child with them.  It was a bit more intense than I thought it would be for a little kiddie ride, and is super fun.  You also get to see the entire park!
  • As much as I love Universal, I hate crowds.  I was trained from an early age to stay out of the way.  Apparently, no one else was.  I understand people are confused or trying to figure out where to go next, but folks are absolutely oblivious to what is going on around them.  You’d think someone coming at you with a stroller would at least make a little room, rather than dashing out in front of you like a squirrel (or, worse, plodding along in the exact middle of your path.
  • It’s still jarring for me, even in our multicultural age, to hear different languages, even Spanish.  It doesn’t grate me the same way as when I hear it elsewhere, because I realize there are a ton of tourists, but it still makes me realize how—as I heard someone put it recently, citing (I believe) Mark Steyn—the future belongs to those who show up.  In our hemisphere, the people showing up are Latin Americans.

More reflections to come—and a more complete account of the trip—to come.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

Conservative Girls are Prettier

Way back in 2001, good ol’ John “The Derb” Derbyshire wrote a column for National Review called “Hillary’s Style Crash.”  That was back in the days before NR kicked Derb to the curb for writing his controversial piece for Taki’s MagThe Talk: Nonblack Version,” in which Derb dropped some unpleasant nuggets of wisdom.  That piece went up during the first round of the past decade’s worth of race riots, back before most of us realized it was mostly ginned up controversy.

Regardless, while I don’t agree with Derb’s race realism overall, he does offer up some remarkably insightful commentary.  His weekly podcast is often the highlight of my Saturday mornings, and he comes across as an intellectually curious, gentle man who sincerely cares about his adopted country.  His best commentary involves cultural matters, and that 2001 piece offers up a great insight:  conservative girls are prettier, but progressive girls are easier.

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Lazy Sunday LXX: Phone it in Fridays, Part IV

We’re rounding out the month of Phone it in Fridays this week with the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth editions.  I’ve intentionally avoided doing more PiiFs while going through them, although I’ll likely write more in the future (because they’re easy and quick), and there will likely a “Phone it in Fridays, Part V” at some point (because it’s easy and quick).

Like last week’s installment, The Virus cast a long, sickly shadow over these entries.  For a time, that’s pretty much all bloggers and the commentariat were discussing, to the point that it got boring and tiresome.  We also settled into our oppressive new normal like slowly boiling frogs, and now every trip to the grocery store looks like a Japanese subway station.

Here are Phone it in Fridays X, XI, and XII:

  • Phone it in Friday X: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part III: Working from Home” – One of the silver linings of The Age of The Virus was teaching from home.  At least, I quite enjoyed it—virtually all of my colleagues hated it.  I’m fortunate to teach in a field (History) that is easy to port to an online format, and I’ve been teaching online since 2015, so I have a good sense for the kind of feedback and communication necessary to make distance learning smoother for students (and myself).  This post had me musing about the future of work, and my hopes that we’d see more white-collar work done from home.
  • Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus” – One of the more astonishing aspects of the lockdowns, quarantines, shelter-in-place orders, mask ordinances, etc., was the ready compliance of most Americans to shutting down their lives.  I think everyone was copacetic to the “two weeks to flatten the curve” mantra, but that two weeks turned into “indefinite oppression because we said so.”  As cases have shot up in South Carolina, even our more conservative municipalities have put mask ordinances into place, albeit relatively mild, with tons of exemptions.  Had I won my that Town Council election on Tuesday, I would have voted against any such ordinances, on the grounds that a.) law enforcement doesn’t need to waste their time enforcing the unenforceable—and the non-criminal, and b.) mature adults and individual businesses in a free society can make their own best decisions about masks, etc.  Regardless, we all seemed to forget about the Constitution the minute a plague hit—unlike our plague-ridden ancestors.
  • Phone it in Friday XII: Good Reads” – The point of PiiF is to churn out some quick content on Fridays when I’m ready to relax for the weekend.  This PiiF ended up being one of the longest ones yet.  I read a ton of blogs every day, schedule-permitting, so I come across some good stuff from time to time.  This post shared great pieces from Rachel Fulton Brown, Z Man, and photog.

That’s it!  Twelve Fridays in one month of Sundays.  Lots of numbers divisible by 2 and 3 there.  I hope these PiiFs brought some joy to your life.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments: