You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘O! Tempora and So-Forth’ category.
Well, per my post immediately below, that’s done for today. About a six hour job altogether.
Mrs. R asks why I don’t just hire somebody to clean up the leaves. No doubt I will someday when I’m old and feeble, but while I still have my strength I believe this to be one of those things I ought to do myself. For one thing, there’s the exercise. For another, there’s the satisfaction of comparing before and after and knowing that I was personally responsible for causing the change.
Besides, today was bright and cool but not cold, the leaves were dry and easy to move, and it was nice to have an excuse to be outside pottering about. My attitude admittedly might be somewhat different were the weather soggy and frigid, as happens from time to time.
Oh, and I may not have mentioned it before but we had a pretty “meh” foliage season this year.
By the way, as I shlepped up and down the hill with my tarp full of leaves, I found myself continuously mulling over this article I picked up over at the Puppy-Blender’s this morning: Colleges struggle with protecting students without being accused of victim-blaming. All I can say is that if we have slid so far into the pit of cultural infantilism that simple common sense is not only abandoned but is considered outright evil, then we’re in a whooooooole heap of trouble.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo is loitering around this Saturday morning, drinking coffee and waiting for the temperature to get up over the freezing mark before he goes out and deals with the leaves. As regular friends of the decanter may have read here previously, there are three big silver maples and an oak between the street and the sidewalk in front of Port Swiller Manor. I have found over the years that it’s best to clean up under them in four stages – a preliminary sweep after the initial drop, usually at the end of October/beginning of November; a second sweep the week before Thanksgiving; a third sweep either Thanksgiving weekend or the next one following; and a final sweep once the oak finishes shedding (it’s always last).
In the meantime, since I’ve been on my anti-”holiday” hype jag recently, I thought I would share one thing I do enjoy about this time of year, and that is hearing the Salvation Army bells ringing at the local groc store. Especially after dark, for some reason. I don’t really have an articulate explanation for this, but that tinkling presses a certain button of satisfaction somewhere within ol’ Robbo’s soul.
So there you are. Regular ranting will resume almost immediately.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
There has been an usual amount of lobbying this year among teh Gels to decorate the exterior of Port Swiller Manor with lights and whatnot apropos of the Season (which, this year, seems to have started a couple days after July the 4th)
Fact of the matter is that, as I explained to them yet again, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t do exterior lights or other fancies. As far as he’s concerned, when the purple Advent ribbons are switched out on the front door wreaths for the red Christmas ones on Christmas Eve, his outward celebratory sign work is done.
This did not go over well. Indeed, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
To which I replied, “Look, when you are all grown up and have your own homes, you can decorate it for the holidays (or for any other reason) however you wish. Until then? Shut it.”
Hey, that’s me – Mr. Sensitivity.
Mrs. Robbo wants to string up some lights around the back porch ceiling this year. As to that, I’m less inclined to kick, largely because – even though we plan to host one or more holiday shindigs this year, I doubt fairly seriously whether anyone is going to want to venture out there, what with ManBearPig bringing the freeze and all.
Whilst watching “Air Disasters” on the Smithsonian Channel this evening (okay, while generally decrying teevee I admit that I’m a sucker for this show), ol’ Robbo saw an ad for the upcoming movie The Theory of Everything, which purports to look at “the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.” The clips shown were from the early days before Hawking was confined to his signature wheelchair and electronic voice-box and seemed to be of the usual infatuation/disillusionment/hate/love cycle variety, with a heavy side of Scientist-Geek thrown in.
“Hmmmm,” I said to myself. “Without looking it up, didn’t Mr. Hawking, within the past few years, chuck the Missus in favor of his nurse? That would rayther put a damper on any ‘message’ about his earlier courtship of Mrs. H, wouldn’t it? Plus, from all that I’ve gleaned, the fellah is something of a first-class shite to deal with.”
Well, I still haven’t looked it up. Maybe (indeed, hopefully) I’m wrong in my recollection. If so, apologies all around.
Nonetheless, I am no fan of Mr. Hawking and have no intention of seeing this flick. Why? Because he has fallen into the trap of believing that because he has (very real) insights into the physical mechanics of the Universe, he is thereby qualified to make theological pronouncements about it (to wit, essentially, asserting that there is no such thing as an originating God), and has made something of a media whore out of himself doing so.
The publicity game aside, let me put it in simple terms: Science, meaning the quantifiable observations of the physical world around us, can at best answer questions associated with the What and the How of our Universe. It cannot answer questions regarding the Why of said Universe, nor can it answer any question regarding either that which is beyond it or the relationship between it and that which is beyond.
One of the many myths about Holy Mother Church is that she hates and condemns Science. This is wrong. (Indeed, the oldest functioning astronomical telescope in the world is, I believe, owned by the Vatican.) What she actually condemns is scientists who use their observations/discoveries of the physical world as a basis for their own amateur theological pronouncements. And if there is one thing ol’ Robbo has come to despise in his religious pilgrimage over the years, it’s amateur theology.
Anyhoo, as much as I might admire Mr. Hawking for overcoming the tremendous physical hurdles thrown in his path and for his contributions to actual science, I am very, very leery of this latest effort to bolster his pop icon status.
UPDATE: Okay, I peeked into Mr. H’s bio. It’s more screwed up than I recalled. Message stands.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
No, no storm here as such, but we are seeing our first really significant cold snap of the season – the high tomorrow in the Port Swiller neighborhood isn’t supposed to get very much north of the freezing mark.
I will say this in Cold Miser’s favor: His advent has the same effect on both the mosquitoes and the tourons, in that it causes them to vanish. That’s good for a fifteen to twenty minute savings on my evening commute time. (Yes, they – the tourons – reappear briefly in a Christmas-time hatch, but vanish again right after New Year’s.) I’ll take it.
UPDATE: Speaking of Cold Miser, ol’ Robbo spent this evening watching Into the White, a recent flick recommended to him by somebody or other – either here or over on FB. It tells the story of two crews of airmen – one of them Luftwaffe, the other RAF – shot down over the wilds of Norway in 1940 and, by a trick of fate, forced to come together in order to survive.
Weeeeel…..I hate to say it, but the movie rayther disappointed me. The set up, especially teh visuals, was superb even though I kept expecting Han Solo to ride up on a tauntaun. But as the plot developed, my Hallmark Moment “bonding” sensors started buzzing something fierce, and I’m afraid I lost sympathy with the flick, as the characters settled into the same ol’ same ‘ol – They fought, they laughed, they cried, they bonded.
UPDATE DEUX: I should have mentioned that this flick was a Norwegian production, so the credits were in (what?) Norse with English subtitles. I half-expected said subtitles to suddenly start talking about visiting the lovely fjords and how their sister was bitten by a moose.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
I draw your attention to a very good article by Jonah Goldberg from yesterday on the transformation of the idea of “integrity” from the pursuit of Objective Good to the pursuit of Whatever Floats Yer Boat. Money graff:
Such saccharine codswallop overturns millennia of moral teaching. It takes the idea that we must apply reason to nature and our consciences in order to discover what is moral and replaces it with the idea that if it feels right, just do it, baby. Which, by the by, is exactly how Lex Luthor sees the world. Übermenschy passion is now everyone’s lodestar. As Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde, “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: ‘The law is reason free from passion.’ Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life.” Well, that solves that. Nietzsche-Witherspoon 1, Aristotle 0.
Read the whole thing, as they say.
The G-Man talks a lot about Nietzsche, and undoubtedly the latter is one of the main culprits (along with Freud) to provide ersatz intellectual cover for this attitude, but the Storm Troopers who actually took it out of the faculty lounges and imposed it on the culture at large in practical form were the goddam Baby Boomers, who for the last forty years have held the high ground in academia, politicks and popular media. As a matter of fact, the “Newseum” in Dee Cee currently is running a self-congradulatory exhibition of portraits entitled “The Boomer List”, consisting of nineteen photos of prominent Boomers, one from each year of the era. With the exception of 1959′s Ronnie Lott, who so far as I know is a blameless and decent man who was an excellent football player, the lot of them fill me with contempt. (Yes, yes, I know that some of you are of that generation – I only missed it by less than a month myself. But I’m guessing that most friends of the decanter constitute the exception to the rule.)
When I look about me at the level of rot and debasement to which these people have brought us, all in pursuit of their own selfish, hedonistic ends, I begin to twitch and foam at the mouth. (It’s everywhere, but Goldberg illustrates his point primarily through cable teevee series. He mentions “Dexter”, the gratuitous slasher show about a homicidal maniac who’s actually okay because, get this, he only kills other homicidal maniacs, do you see? Mrs. Robbo started watching that series early on, but after a few episodes I asked her – as a personal favor to me – to stop. She did.)
See, this is the thing: If these people acted the way they do in an isolation chamber, I’d be much more inclined simply to dismiss them. Perhaps sorrowfully, if I thought about it, but still – I’d probably chuckle in the same way that I do while perusing The Darwin Awards. However, it’s the effect they have had and are having on the world in which my children and their children will have to live that so enrages me. (I have taken to using the adjective “soul-destroying” recently to describe things and ideas I want them to stay away from. List seems to be getting longer all the time.) Furthermore, not only are teh gels finding and having to deal with the fact that the traditional morality they’ve been taught at home all these years doesn’t seem to jibe with what they find on the Outside, where they are considered weirdos or even Haters, there’s also the fact that this Übermenschy worldview, when put in practice, simply is unsustainable as a whole over more than a few years. Here’s some more from Jonah:
How’s this new morality going to work out for us all? I’m reminded of the time when an entrepreneur announced he was going to release a new line of beer laced with Viagra. Some wag immediately quipped, “What could possibly go wrong?” Which is pretty much where we are today. It’s impossible to predict what Integrity 2.0 will yield — because no society in the history of Western civilization has so energetically and deliberately torn down its classical ideal and replaced it with do-it-yourself morality. But a betting man would probably wager that this won’t end well.
I suspect that before long we’ll be pining for the good old days, when, no matter how often people failed to uphold the standards of integrity, those standards actually meant something.
Yep. God help us all.
And nicely apropos, I just became aware of a new book by one of my favorite authors, John Zmirak (along with Jason Scott Jones) entitled The Race to Save Our Century: Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and a Culture of Life. Sayeth the ad copy:
In The Race to Save Our Century, human rights activist Jason Jones and political/economic scholar John Zmirak, combine to issue a stark warning to the West, and to call on readers to embrace and promote five core principles of a Culture of Life: . The innate dignity of every human person, regardless of race, age, or handicap. . The existence of a transcendent moral order, by which we judge the justice of all laws and policies. The need for a humane economy that embraces freedom in a context of social responsibility. . The crucial importance of decentralized, responsive government that preserves civil society and freedom. . The need for solidarity, for a sense of fellow feeling and common obligation toward each and every member of the human race.
I’ve just now ordered a copy from the devil’s website and will let you know what I think of it.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Mrs. Robbo informed me this morning that I’m not allowed to do yard work today since I’ve been down this week with the stomach bug, so I’m just having a cup o’ joe and noodling around here.
♦ As a matter of fact, I feel considerably better. Yesterday I had a massive headache all day, which was actually good news because that always seems to be one of the last stages of these things for me. Indeed, I like to imagine them in terms of nor’easters that first form off Cape Hatteras (my stomach) and then roll up the East Coast (shoulders, neck, head) before heading on out to sea.
Yes, I’m a weirdo.
♦ Speaking of nor’easters, hello Polar Vortex! (The Port Swiller thermometer hit 32 degrees for the first time this morning, but the kerpow is scheduled for later next week here.) AlGore could not be reached for comment – I understand he has a hot new lead on the whereabouts of ManBearPig.
♦ Speaking of seasonal changes, we got all the ferns and potted palms moved in off the porch last week. They look so nice inside I think we’re going to keep them here and just get new ones for outdoors next spring.
♦ RIP Tom Magliozzi of NPR’s “Car Talk”. I used to listen to him and his brother Ray every Saturday morning, especially back in school, and regularly found myself rolling on the floor in laughter. Indeed, his stock “Aww, Jeez” has become a staple of the Port Swiller lexicon. (As a matter of fact, I stopped listening to Click and Clack out of protest when they got on the “SUV’s are Global Warminz!! Eleventy!!!” bandwagon, but I still remember the old days fondly.)
♦ Speaking of people in the nooz, just who the hell is this Lena Dunham person? (I’ll take pathetically spoiled, hyper-politicized narcissists for a thousand, Alex.) As the father of three daughters, I simply cannot conceive how any one of them would wish to grow up emulating that.
♦ Speaking of pathetically spoiled, hyper-politicized narcissists, it may just be my imagination coupled with wishful thinking, but I’m beginning to get the impression that people have had just about enough of that sort of thing and that the tide may be beginning to turn. I hope so. I hope so.
♦ Somewhat related, Scott Hahn, the popular Catholic convert and apologist, writes very insightfully and I’ve learned a great deal from him, but the fact of the matter is that his over-use of exclamation points and catch-phrases puts me off his books.
♦ Finally, speaking of books, I’ve started through the Charles Portis cycle for the umpteenth time. (If you don’t read Portis, you’re really, really missing out.) Allow me to quote a small piece from the beginning of his first novel, Norwood:
Norwood and Vernell did not live right in Ralph but just the other side of Ralph. Mr. Pratt had always enjoyed living on the edge of places or between places, even when he had a choice. He was an alcoholic auto mechanic. Before his death they had moved a lot, back and forth along U.S. Highway 82 in the oil fields and cotton patches between Stamps, Arkansas, and Hooks, Texas. There was something Mr. Pratt dearly loved about that section of interstate concrete. They clung to its banks like river rats. Once, near Stamps, they lived in a house between a Tastee-Freez stand and a cinder-block holiness church. There had been a colorful poster on one side of the house that said ROYAL AMERICAN SHOWS OCT. 6-12 ARKANSAS LIVESTOCK EXPOSITION LITTLE ROCK. On the other side of the house somebody with a big brush and a can of Sherwin-Williams flat white had painted ACTS 2:38.
I just love that. Love the style, love the substance, love the little quirks. Portis is from the Ark-La-Tex area and captures its details lovingly, not snarkily.
There really is a Hooks, Texas and a Stamps, Arkansas – they’re a few miles the opposite sides of Texarkana. And U.S. 82 really does run through them. Alas, I cannot find a Ralph, Texas. I think it must be a stand-in for either Leary or Nash, both of which are between Hooks and Texarkana. (If you’re into this sort of geekery, you can read Portis’s True Grit with google-map open at your side and very easily trace Mattie Ross’s journey from Yell County, Arkansas into the Eastern Oklahoma badlands, and in fact to the mountain hideout of Lucky Ned Pepper, which I believe is a state park now.)
Acts 2:38, by the way, reads: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Good advice for anyone.
UPDATE: Well, I got one home-improvement project done anyway, namely running the cables behind the basement wall between the teevee and the Verizon box. I used a fish tape to bull up through the insulation between the two holes, then ran a loop of line through, splicing the heads of the various cables to it and pulling them through more or less on the capstan principle. Turned out to be rayther more difficult than I had anticipated, at least so far as getting at the tape head the first time. Luckily, I have small hands so was eventually able to grapple it and get it out. I even had the sense to leave the line in place (the end discretely coiled behind the teevee) in case the gels need another one of their infernal video contraptions hooked up.
A small matter, but nonetheless something from which I can draw satisfaction.
From time to time, the Port Swiller family has looked to Craigslist to purchase various items for the ol’ homestead, generally with very satisfactory results.
This week we happened to be looking for a small rug for the basement and came across a photo of one that was reasonably priced and would do very nicely.
Now the photo was of a rug in what looked like somebody’s living room, so we assumed that somebody was just letting it go for whatever reason. So why, then, were we presented with an absolutely new one, still in its original wrapping, by a rayther shifty-looking fellah who kept on saying how much cheaper it was than the same thing at Macy’s?
I couldn’t help wondering if said rug hadn’t, in fact, been appropriated off of the back of a truck somewhere.
We went ahead and paid for it (in cash) anyway, idle speculation on my part not being enough grounds to sour the deal.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo, despite the fact that he finds himself fighting a stomach bug, is still reveling this evening after yesterday’s slayfest. As Mr. Rogers would put it, “Can you say “repudiation”? Sure, I knew you could!”
Perhaps apropos, this evening I was flipping idly through one of the Dee Cee glossies that periodically show up in the Port Swiller mailbox (totally unbidden, I may say) when I came across a bit about a new art exhibit down the National Mall entitled “Out of Many, One”. Allow The Smithsonian to explain:
Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is a big artist with big ideas. Standing a wiry 6-foot-5, he is rethinking the concept of portraiture: Instead of capturing an individual on canvas, he portrays universal man in giant “face-scapes” tilled into the ground.
“I want to expand the idea of what a portrait is,” says Kim Sajet, the director of the Portrait Gallery, who sought out the artist after seeing his earth portrait of a girl in Belfast. “The Portrait Gallery commissions paintings, video, photography and drawings all the time. This is about pushing the boundaries of portraiture outside the walls of the museum.”
In late summer, Rodríguez-Gerada was preparing to construct his portrait of an anonymous male on five acres of prime parkland between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Titled Out of Many, One, it presents a single face that is a composite of 50 men between the ages of 18 and 24, both Anglo and African-American. The artist picked them pretty much at random in Washington, D.C., photographed them and selected elements of each face—“the glint of an eye, edge of a mouth, someone’s lip texture”—for an image he created using Photoshop. Then he turned that image into a line drawing.
The rest of the article discusses the technical aspects of transposing such a line drawing into a massive, multi-acre, artistic tilling. As a matter of fact, I find the process to be rayther impressive, at least from a mechanical point of view. (On the other hand, I have very little time for anything that smells of a “stunt”, so there’s that. Christo, anyone?)
However, let’s have a look at the actual product, shall we? You tell me whether this actually is an “anonymous male” created out of random photographs, or else is yet one more example of an all-too-familiar image:
Granted, ol’ Robbo may be being a bit paranoid here, but if so, I have good reason. There is no place, NO place, for a cult of personality in a healthy, functioning Republic founded on the Rule of Law.
Going back again to yesterday, I’m hoping that people are finally waking up to this.