Highly Recommended Reading on Dysfunctional Leftists

Though I love Instapundit, I don’t usually go for Ed Driscoll’s posts. However, today he put up a rant that collates several other great sources into a powerful bit of observation. The essay is here. Solid, penetrating stuff.

In honor of the source…Read The Whole Thing.

Libation Bearers Live

I dipped back into Greek drama recently and read The Libation Bearers of Aeschylus. It was rather dry: such drama tends to dwell on a single event or feeling, milking it deeply, with maybe one action around which the entire dialogue revolves.

Trying to get more out of it, I looked up performances of it online, and found this one. It’s actually pretty interesting–I like how they strive for some authenticity.

Sign the Petition: President Obama Should NOT Attend Murdered Police Officers’ Memorial In Baton Rouge

Here: http://chn.ge/29GA0DL

Mr. President, the murder of three police officers in Baton Rouge is clearly related to and inspired by the racist rhetoric that many have used recently to advance a cause called “Black Lives Matter.”

You have helped create that climate of violent hate towards the police, most recently and especially by your disgraceful hijacking of the memorial for five fallen officers in Dallas so you could lecture people about slavery and race. As president, “the buck stops here.” When atrocities are committed for an ideology that you actively espouse, you must share in the blame. 

Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for you to attend the upcoming memorial for the slain officers in Baton Rouge. America does not need you to again disrespect the brave people being honored, just so you can take American to school about your own pet prejudices. 

Please, Mr. President, do not attend the memorial for the murdered police officers in Baton Rouge. Instead, spend that time in some private soul searching about the innocent heroes who have been killed because of your poor leadership. 

(Please see also, Heather MacDonald’s “The Fire Spreads“)

“Western civilization has defended us for centuries. Isn’t it about time we defended it?”

This essay is correct. The primary philosophy behind our policy decisions should be preserving the principles that make us who we are as Americans. First, though, we need to understand those principles, and love them enough to defend them.

 

…The West refuses to take even the most rudimentary steps to protect itself against a known, sworn enemy. Why?

Lots of reasons: ennui, cultural Marxism, the mutation of the Left into a suicide cult that wants to take the rest of us with it. A loss of faith in organized religion (some of it brought on by the faiths themselves, or rather the imperfect men who represent and administer them). The transformation of government schools into babysitting services for subsections of the populace with severe cultural learning disabilities, no matter the skin color of the pupil. The marginalization of the very notion of excellence. And a political class that is little more than a collection of criminals, throne-sniffers, pantywaists and bum-kissers, all dedicated to their own enrichment.

…The antidote to this is a return to our cultural roots, including the pre-Christian principles of Aristotle (passed down via St. Thomas Aquinas, among others) and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Those roots are neither race- nor faith-specific and in fact the genius of Western civilization is that its principles — not “conservative” principles but civilizational principles — have proven so successful that they resulted in the United States of America, the very embodiment of those ideas.

Which is, of course, why Islam and its ally of convenience, the Left, hate America so. We and our cultural heritage are the refutation of every satanic principle they hold so vengefully dear.

A Generation of Artisans and Scholars

Here’s a link to a little manifesto of mine just published by the good folks over at the excellent Junior Ganymede blog. In short, I argue that Latter-day Saints in the U.S. need to stop our tendency to go into white-collar careers and, instead, focus on professions in the humanities, because we need that to build a strong subculture, in order to stop the current mainstream culture from destroying our families.

Bookworm Adventures

I’m not a big video game guy, but I really love Bookworm Adventures. It’s a cartoony, Scarbble-esque game where you combat literary-themed enemies (Cyclops, Dracula, etc.) by making words out of random letters. The better the word, the more powerful the attack.

A few nights ago I played a bit with some of my kids gathered around me, and we made quite a team. Fun fr the whole family!

There’s plenty of humor in the game, and there’s even a sequel that’s heavy on science fiction.

Totally worth it, especially if you live around here, where the library has it for free!

“The Changing of the Guard”

I don’t really like much “warm-fuzzy” teacher stuff (which makes it hard for my mom to shop my birthday), but I love this episode of The Twilight Zone. I don’t think most casual viewers realize just how sentimental that show often got. This episode is basically It’s a Wonderful Life, for teachers. Especially as an English teacher, I love the idea that what we do actually matters.

First is the best copy I could find on YouTube, which still isn’t great, though I’m sure you can find it on Netflix and Hulu–it’s the last episode of season 3. Below that is a very cool all-female-student remake a school did. Enjoy.

Gene Kelly

Confession: I’ve never really been impressed by the dancing of Fred Astaire. Gene Kelly, however, is the man. Something about his style is carelessly confident, but suggests complete control. I’ve never seen dancing that strikes me as so fundamentally masculine.

Consider this scene from An American in Paris, just an average movie, really (if you disagree, imagine the film without Kelly in it–pretty bland, eh?). This isn’t even his best work–merely goofing off for children, really–but see how he has mastered the movement of his body? Every muscle easily obeys his every command. Such a variety of fluid motion reminds me more of Jackie Chan than Fred Astaire.

Men and Porn

A friend of mine who works in the IT industry told me about this experience he had about a decade ago.

A guy in the cubicle next to his asked him to come over and look at his screen. My friend did and saw that his coworker had a pornographic image on display. He quickly turned away and said something like, “Thanks but no thanks.”

The coworker teased and scolded him a bit about being a prude and said, “C’mon, don’t pretend you don’t like it.”

And this is where the story gets memorable for me. My friend said, “I’m not pretending I don’t like it. I’m sure I would like it. That’s why I have to force myself to avoid it.”

I think that’s a great lesson for all of us.

Highly Recommended: Mockingbird

51IwBRUAXyL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_I think I’ve found a new favorite science fiction novel. Mockingbird, by Walter Tevis, is “set in a grim and decaying New York City in the 25th century. The population is declining, no one can read, and robots rule over the drugged, illiterate humans. With the birth rate dropping, the end of the species seems a possibility.”

The most amazing thing about this story is just how uncanny its dystopian vision is. Combine the most prescient parts of Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World and you have this. Actually, it mostly reminded me of Ayn Rand’s Anthem, but where that was just a skeleton of a fable, this is fully fleshed out.

I marked a couple of dozen passages about stupified dependency, obsession with self-fulfillment, and the joys of rediscovering civilization; there are just too many to quote. Instead, here is a picture of one page, where the hero shares a passage from a history book that explains how the world fell. I got chills. This was published in 1980. He saw where things were going perfectly.

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It’s not just a simple tale of society falling apart, though. There’s genuine love and adventure and sadness. Part of it is a Shawshank Redemption-like prison story. Part is wilderness survival. And there’s even more than that.

Just as with another great dystopian sci-fi classic, The Children of Men (which was also about the decline of the human family), there is one f-bomb, powerful for its lone status. At one point, a suicidal robot tells a pregnant woman that she should have an abortion. Let’s just say that I wholeheartedly approve of her response.

Absent Teachers

Last week in the Las Vegas Sun:

According to new research by the Education Week Research Center, Nevada has one of the highest rates of teacher absences in the country.

As much as 49 percent of teachers in the Silver State miss 10 or more days during the school year, the second highest number of absences of any state. Hawaii comes in first, with 75 percent of its teachers taking 10 or more days off. The national average is around 25 percent.

Comments on the article and on Facebook consist of teachers defending themselves, but facts remain facts. Teachers around here do miss a lot of work. If you don’t believe it, observe any principal’s secretary–the one who coordinates substitutes–on a Friday, and witness the frenzy as vacant spots are desperately filled last minute from a pool of subs where demand vastly dwarfs supply.

Many times those secretaries have to call other teachers on campus and ask them to fill in for their missing colleague on their prep periods, closing the gap that way. I’ve taken plenty of those calls over the years. Hey, it’s an easy way for me to make an extra few bucks.

While the teachers are right–there is a lot of exposure to sickness in our line of work, for example–it’s also true that absences spike around weekends and holidays, and get worse near the end of the year. Odd coincidence if all is innocent.

Thomas Cole

Earlier this year I read a biography of my favorite painter, Thomas Cole, by Earl Powell. Two great quotes stood out, the first by Cole himself:

“The most distinctive, and perhaps the impressive characteristic of American scenery is its wildness….And to this cultivated state our western world is fast approaching; but nature is still predominant, and there are those who regret that with the improvements of cultivation the sublimity of the wilderness should pass away: for those scenes of solitude from which the hand of nature has never been lifted, affect the mind with a more deep toned emotion than aught which the hand of man has touched. Amid them the consequent associations are of God the creator–they are his undefiled works, and the mind is cast into the contemplation of eternal things.” from Cole’s “Essay on American Scenery

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The second is from W.C. Bryant, given in a eulogy at Cole’s funeral:

“In 1840 he completed another series of large paintings, called The Voyage of Life, of simpler and less elaborate design than the Course of Empire, but more purely imaginative. The conception of the series is a perfect poem. The child, under the care of its guardian angel, in a boat heaped with buds and flowers, floating down a stream which issues from the shadowy cavern of the past and flows between banks bright with flowers and the beams of the rising sun ; the youth, with hope in his gesture and aspect, taking command of the helm, while his winged guardian watches him anxiously from the shore; the mature man, hurried onward by the perilous rapids and eddies of the river; the aged navigator, who has reached, in his frail and now idle bark, the mouth of the stream, and is just entering the great ocean which lies before him in mysterious shadow, set before us the different stages of human life under images of which every beholder admits the beauty and deep significance. The second of this series, with the rich luxuriance of its foreground, its pleasant declivities in the distance, and its gorgeous but shadowy ‘Structures in the piled clouds, is one of the most popular of Cole’s compositions.”

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The Fake Flanders Bible

By1mwXIIMAAvSBeIt’s been more than 20 years since the episode of The Simpsons aired where Bart and Lisa have to play Bible Bombardment with the Flanders family, leading an exasperated Ned to demand of the Simpson children, “Don’t you know anything? The Serpent of Rehoboam? The Well of Zohassadar? The Bridal Feast of Beth Chadruharazzeb?”

I don’t recognize any of those references, so I finally decided to look them up, and…nothing. I can’t find them in the Bible anywhere. Clearly, Ned Flanders is such a serious scholar that he knows about secret parts of the text that the rest of us can’t find.

*sigh* This is even more disappointing than when I saw Pulp Fiction and went home to look up Ezekiel 25:17. Alas, it’s not even close to the real thing.

R.I.P. Trump

The word, of course, not the celebrity. It’s become appallingly clear that we can no longer use the verb “trump” literally, as in “My evidence trumps yours,” because of the taint associated with the name now. A sad loss. It was a great word.

I don’t expect it to be resurrected any time soon. Several years later, I still can’t refer to that darkening period at the end of the day–“twilight”–without students giggling. And don’t even try to address an issue by suggesting that it has “shades of gray.”