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Ol’ Robbo is delighted that the Scots voted to stay within the Union and, frankly, surprised that it really wasn’t even close. Were I a cynic, I would suspect that Alex Salmond and his fellow “Yessers” probably knew that this was coming and ramped up the pre-vote splitsville hype to eleventy!! over the past few weeks simply in order to squeeze as much out of London in terms of monies and power as they could before the vote was cast.
Were I a cynic, of course.
And now it will be interesting to see if David Cameron actually ponies up.
As I said earlier this week, Scotland is a failed welfare state. (I know I’m being redundant.) IMHO, it would have found itself in a much worse condition as an independent one than as it is in its current leech-like status. Reform is desperately needed, but I believe it can come about more readily via a United Kingdom than otherwise.
And while we’re on the topic, here are a couple bonus quotes which ought to be stapled to the foreheads of many people on both sides of the Pond:
“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Mags Thatcher
“Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.” – The Gipper
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Earlier today, a friend of the decanter (who knows who they are) asked of ol’ Robbo, “Tom, how have the first few weeks of school worked out so far this year?”
Well, I’m happy to say that things are (touch wood) going pretty well.
Teh Eldest, now a high school junior, seems finally to have grasped that whatever her record is, she owns it. In other words, after all those years of complaining about us nagging her, she’s finally beginning to learn to nag herself. Laus Deo.
Teh Middle Gel, now a high school frosh, is talking much about leadership (particularly in her choir program) and is running for Class VP. She’s an awesome kid, about whom we have very little to worry except for her apparent resistance to learning math. (I say this here because she regularly reads this blog. Thpppppt!! )
Teh Youngest is taking to middle school like a duck to water, loving every aspect of her new school. One thing: she originally signed up to play cello in the school orchestra, the course description assuring that no previous experience was necessary. Well, it turned out that a) she and one other kid were the only ones in teh whole troupe with no experience, and b) the director was not much interested in babysitting newbies. After a couple days, teh YG decided to chuck it and I can’t say that I blame her. The good news is that, when she went to her counselor, it turned out that a slot had become open in drama, the course the gel had wanted to take originally but was full up when she applied. And so she switched. Apparently, teh gel had them rolling in the aisles during an improv session this week, and her new theatre teacher is quite bananas about her. I’m not in the least surprised.
And speaking of such things, this week teh Eldest was assigned by her Art teacher the task of snapping a photo of a family member in a “characteristic” situation, and using such photo as the model for a sketch. In pursuit of said goal, teh gel caught me quite unawares as I was engrossed in Handel:
Not the greatest pic, but nice composition. And, I must admit, substantively quite pleasing, at least to me.
UPDATE: In response to myriad queries as to what particular piece of Handel I was mutilating when teh gel snapped, this pic, I can tell you that it was Handel’s Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432. Here’s a genuine performance version of it:
Subtract a bunch of technical errors, add a great deal of blasphemy (you can’t see it from this angle, but I’ve got a frieze of St. Cecilia on top of the piano to give me strength), and you’ve got my rendition. Sort of.
Being mighty near pure Scots himself on his father’s side, Ol’ Robbo has been watching the build up to the referendum on Scotland’s independence from Great Britain with some interest.
Frankly, I’ve thought it a bad idea from the beginning simply based on what I believe to be unsurmountable economic realities. (Very broadly speaking, these boil down to the fact that some enormously large portion of Scotland’s population is now pure economic deadweight – on the dole, in state housing, deadbeat. GB as a whole has enough resources to carry them, at least for the moment. Scotland, on her own, wouldn’t.)
Now, having read this article in the Telegraph profiling a group of “Yes” voters, I’m convinced that it’s a bad idea. Why? Because it’s obvious that there is no one vision of what an Independent Scotland will actually mean, but instead a jumbled collection of alternate ideas, many of them extremely contradictory to each other and some quite separated from reality. Frankly, the thing smells like a cult movement to me. And by now I think we all know how political cults work out.
Friends of teh decanter might argue that this is something for teh Scots to sort out for themselves and that an independent, localized debate is surely the best way to do it. Well, if the biznay were merely an academic exercise devoid of real world consequences, I might agree. The trouble is that it wouldn’t be, and my fear is that when people realize that they’re not, in fact, getting William Wallace riding in at the head of a herd of rainbow-colored unicorns, things will get ugly.
The West is crumbling already. Why speed up?
UPDATE: Over at NRO, Andrew Stuttaford has a round up of the doings of what might be called the MacJacobins of the “Yes” side. This is a what I mean about things getting ugly.
Whelp, tomorrow is the anniversary of 9/11.
I can’t give you specific details, but ol’ Robbo’s concern monitor is beeping more this year than it has in the past.
Maybe I’m foolish, maybe I’m prescient. I dunno. What I do know is this: whatever may or may not happen, St. Michael, ora pro nobis.
I’ll raise a glass of wine with you on the other side…..
UPDATE: Well, apparently nothing happened. Deo gratis. But, despite my general inclination not to comment on politicks these days, I will say this about teh Administration’s public response to the ISIS threat over the past 48 hours: What the @(@*#*(@&(%&!!! Are you deliberately advertising yourselves as the weaker horse? Are you deliberately bending over? Or is it just working out that way?
God help us all.
Last evening, still without cable service with which to watch his beloved Nats try to put the kybosh on the hated Braves of Atlanta, ol’ Robbo found himself pulling a rayther unusual entry out of the ol’ Netflix queue, a 2001 movie titled “Winged Migration“.
The film is a documentary, shot over three years, tracking the travels of several kinds of birds (mostly ducks, geese, cranes and storks) from their winter grounds in various parts of the world to their summah residences nearer the Poles.
Frankly, it’s beautifully done – amazingly detailed shots of tight formations of birds winging their way over breath-taking landscapes that would make Stephen Maturin swoon- and the producers have every right to proudly note at the beginning that none of this was CGI special effects, but was instead genuine film footage. (In the “Making Of” track, we see how the producers trained the subject birds from chickhood to “imprint” on some Johnny in an ultralight, so that when they grew up they had no problem whatever in flying about with said ultralight in their midst, camera rolling. I seem to recall reading something about this at the time.)
And yet…..and yet….well, after an hour and a half of mostly just watching birds fly around, I found myself thinking “This is it?”
You see, the film is almost nothing but said footage, accompanied by Enya-like New Age yodeling (or so I would suppose based on what a friend has told me about Enya albums).
Yes, there are a few captions of the “Species Such-and-Such migrates so many miles from its winter grounds in Whereverland to the Arctic.” One of these referred to the “central american plains”, which caused ol’ Robbo some consternation, considering there are no plains in Central America. It was only after a minute that he realized the caption was referring to the central United States, specifically the Platte River, which he knew to be the winter grounds of the Sandhill Crane.
Yes, there is the occasional narration ( by a Frenchman in a voice that reminded me of that NSA agent in “True Lies” who helps Der Ahnold set up Helen for her fake op with his “Do eet ducimo…Do eet verrah slowly “), but the comments are few and far between and generally of a platitudinal variety, as in “Weeth de onset of weenter, de birds must haid south, their wan objecteeve, survivail.”
Early Sunday evenings in Robbo’s misspent yoot usually involved Marlin “I’ll stand downstream while Jim wrestles the tiger to the ground” Perkins and “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom“. Since then, he always has had an interest in good quality nature documentaries and series, and has learned a great deal from them. So as an aficionado, I have to say that I found this film vastly lacking in substance. Where were the maps? Where was the narration about feeding and mating habits? About predators? About the damned geographical and meteorological logistics of those jaw-dropingly long flight patterns? (Aaaand, not to be pedantic, but the film was broad to the point of sloppiness about some of its basic premises. First, not all birds migrate. Second, even among species that do – for example, the Canadian Goose and American Bald Eagle cited in the movie – only a given percentage of the population migrates, while others stay year-round in certain locations.) It seems to me that this movie was long on the surface but very, very short on the depth and complexity of Nature’s wonder. And for that, despite the whiz-bang cinematography, it’s really not all that good.
Then again, the film was released in 2001 in the last days of the post-Cold War False Peace. Among the obligatory shots of the birds interacting with Man (usually to the former’s detriment), we get a clip of a group of geese winging their way along the East River in Manhattan, the Twin Towers looming up on their right. I’m really not trying to make a direct connection between a lack of quality theatrical presentation of ornithological information and the Collapse of the West, but…..you know?
Anyhoo, two glasses of port out of five.
With the ongoing basement renovations at Port Swiller Manor, we continue to cope with the loss of a third of our living space. As I may have mentioned before, we had to pull everything upstairs on the day of teh flood, jamming it in wherever we could. The dining room is completely blocked with sofas, tables and the like, while the library and living room are full of stacks of books, CD’s, DVDs’s, boxes, trunks and other assorted flotsam and jetsam.
In fact, the place is a right shambles.
On reaching adult status, ol’ Robbo shook off the slovenliness of his misspent yoot and became rayther finicky about cleanliness and neatness in both his person and his surroundings. So living under these conditions got very old for him very quickly, and the prospect of getting everything cleaned up and squared away occupies an increasingly large part of his thoughts. If we can’t get back to normal some time soon, it’s going to become an obsession.
First World Problems, I know, but there it is.
And on the subject of making things ship-shape, take a dekko at this thing, the Dyson 360 Eye robotic vacuum:
Now you might think that a gadget like this would appeal to ol’ Robbo, given what I say above. But regular friends of the decanter will also recall my deep suspicion of technology, especially “smart” technology. With that kind of circuitry don’t tell me that Skynet couldn’t corrupt it and turn it into a killer. And just think how embarrassing it would be if, on Judgement Day, instead of getting taken out by a missile or some Gatling-toting cyborg, one awoke to find one of these things sitting on one’s face, sucking out one’s lungs.
UPDATE: A few minutes after I posted this, an inspector-wallah from the County showed up to check on the doings downstairs. While he was satisfied with things inside, it would appear that the contractor never got the proper permit for external wall waterproofing, the detritus of which is still plainly evident. So they may very well need to stop what they’re doing, get the proper bumf and redig the ditch out front so the work can be inspected. Pardon me while I practice my Chief Inspector Dreyfus eye-twitch……
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Over on teh Fazebukes, ol’ Robbo is a member of a group calling itself the Aubrey-Maturin Appreciation Society, a roving band of sea-dogs devoted to the A-B canon (or is it cannon?) itself, together with more general themes, nautical and otherwise, somehow related or referred to therein (debauched sloths being an example of the latter).
As is usual in these chat groups, the posts range from long discussions/arguments to quips, jokes, videos and pictures. Among the last category was one I thought worthy of sharing here:
I know the meme has got rayther old, but this made me chuckle.
A glass of wine with you!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
After sorting out the gels’ various traffic-control homework issues (which, I suspect, are going to be a major theme this school year), Ol’ Robbo found himself listening this evening to the Monty Python album “Matching Tie & Handkerchief“, into which I have not dipped for several years now.
One of the tracks on this album that, so far as I know, was never replicated on teevee or in the movies was the skit about the Background to History that featured the Open Field Farming songs, and its follow-on bit about the fellah at the record store who wishes to hear a track from “The Ronettes Sing Medieval Agrarian History“.
This little throwaway has long made Robbo laugh and laugh, not only because of its absurdity but also because of its erudition. This is what I’ve always loved most about the Pythons, that they were able to come up with, for lack of a better description, educated crass humor. (I believe Terry Jones is the medievalist amongst them, but I know that most of the others had particular fields of learning on which to draw.)
Did I ever mention the Chaucer class I took in college? Wonderful stuff taught wonderfully by a wonderful professor who was not the slightest bit interested in post-modern critical-theory deconstruction of the texts, but instead was passionately concerned to get us young idjits to appreciate them, in their style and content, for what they actually were. (Yes, back in the day such profs could be found even at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown. I also had this prof for several Tudor and Stuart lit courses. His readings of Prospero from “The Tempest” were pure magic. Betcher you couldn’t find his ilk there now.)
Conversely, my Real Property course in law school, which started with a very thorough examination of feudal Norman land rights regarding, among other things, transfer and inheritance, was taught by a card-carrying Marxist who evidently thought the whole system contemptible.
Somehow, when I revisit this particular Python sketch, both of those contrary memories come back to me. And perhaps, in a weird way, they increase my appreciation of the humor of the thing.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
I may have mentioned that one of the casualties of the Great Port Swiller Basement Flood of a couple weeks ago was our old printer, which had sat on the floor and did not react a-tall well to sitting in several inches of water.
Well, what with today being the kick-off of the new school year and knowing that all three gels were going to need to start printing things instanter, Mrs. Robbo brought home a replacement this afternoon, an Epson Expression XP-410. One of the advantages the thing has over our old one is that it can use WiFi to hook up not only with the home iWhatevz, but also with the gels’ laptops.
“Oh,” she said casually, “Can you set it up for me?”
In the words of Professor Farnsworth,
It may come as no surprise to friends of the decanter that, although a generally clever and able fellow, I have very little understanding of all this computer gadgetry and these innertoob connector thingies. (On the other hand, I at least have enough sense not to take nekked pictures of myself and launch them into cyberspace.) So when Mrs. R tasked me with this task, I was taken aback.
Whelp, the good news is that after about an hour of trying to download software, punching in invisible-to-my-failing-eyes passwords and swearing at the little Verizon router box thingy, I actually got the contraption to work. This marks the very outer bounds of ol’ Robbo’s computer tech savvy, and the whole experience left me feeling drained.
I believe such a success calls for splicing the mainbrace. (And having stumbled across this link for this post, if you think I’m not going to order this set of flags for the porch, you’ve got another thing coming!) So bumpers all round, gunn’ls under, and no heel taps!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy
Labor Irony Day!
Ol’ Robbo thinks little of this particular holiday. On the one hand, although I am willing to admit the argument that the Labor Movement served a useful and humane role in the early days of industrialization, these days unions are nothing more that wretched hives of scum and villainy. (As to the matter of honest and honorable labor itself, I prefer to ask St. Joseph the Worker to pray for us.) On the other, despite the name, ol’ Robbo doesn’t plan to do a damned thing today except lie back and listen to the sweet, sweet lamentations of his women-folk over having to go back to school tomorrow.
In the meantime, here’s some News You Can Use:
Uncle Sam’s Big Brother’s tips on roasting marshmallows. Yes, your betters have been doing some extensive research into this topic. Not only are they amazed that you cretins haven’t let your children go up in flames from standing too close to the fire, they’ve also determined that you’re placing an undue burden on the health care system by poisoning yourselves with s’mores. Changes will be made at once!
[T]here are some innovative ways to roast the little white treats that can help cut down on the amount of sugar intake by the kids, thus making bedtime a little more doable.
Even if the kids – including us older ones – insist on more traditional s’mores, there are some healthy tricks. Grill thin slices of pineapple and substitute chocolate for the sweet, warm fruit. You will still get a tasty treat but by substituting with fruit, it is healthier – as long as you watch the amount of marshmallows used. If you want to cut down even more on calories, try using slices of angel food cake instead of graham crackers.
You can also get a little inventive and move away from s’mores.
Grab a small bag of chocolate or peanut butter chips – or a combination of the two. Take a banana and slice one side open, exposing the fruit but leaving the peel intact. Slice the banana, add a few chocolate chips then top with tiny marshmallows. Or substitute the chips for blueberries from the local farmer’s market. Place the banana in aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Place the foil-wrapped fruit next to but not on the flames. Wait five to 10 minutes or enough time for the chips and marshmallows to melt. Open and enjoy with a spoon.
Your tax money at work. (Apart from everything else, ol’ Robbo can’t help noting that the author of this piece appears not to understand the proper use of the word “substitute”. Nor does she seem to know the difference between “amount” and “number”. And in going for extra credit with the gratuitous plug for local farmers’ markets, I would suggest she misplaced the apostrophe, since one must assume more than one farmer would be selling there. But never mind.)
My advice to friends of the decanter is to print out this article. Learn it. Live it. Why? Well, remember that the Forest Service is as heavily weaponized as most other gub’mint agencies these days. Failure to adhere to these, ah, suggestions might very well get you an armored personnel carrier crashing into your campsite. Remember, it’s all for your own good.