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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Motivated by all the buzz I’ve read about it in the corners of the innerwebs where I lurk, Ol’ Robbo recently went out and bought himself a copy of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life, An Antidote To Chaos.  Curiously enough, without either of us knowing it, at exactly the same time that I was picking up my hardback copy from the devil’s website, Mrs. R was downloading a copy onto her iThingy.  Go figure.

Not that I usually read this sort of thing, of course.  And I certainly wouldn’t bother with a “Rules for Life” book by somebody like, say, Oprah, or Joel Osteen, or Phil Donahue.  But the word I got was that Peterson is sharp, articulate, and causing all the right Lefty heads to explode, so I decided to check him out.  (The back of the book contains blurbs of praise from Camille Paglia, Howard Bloom, and National Review.)


The “Rules” themselves are what I would have considered to be simple common sense:  Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.  Respect yourself.  Respect others.  Respect tradition. (Here he restates the principle of Chesterton’s Fence without apparently realizing it).  Discipline the kids when they need it.  Do your damn laundry.  That sort of thing.  I guess what Peterson brings to the table is his unpacking of these things and getting at their roots.  In this, he covers a lot of intersecting topics such as behavioral evolution (I’ll never look at a lobster the same way again), clinical psychology, the biological differences between male and female, personal biography, and social development – on both the individual and societal levels.

Another big topic which dances in and out of his discussion is religion, and specifically Christianity.  (He also discusses the Old Testament and refers here and there to parallels within Buddhism, Taoism, and Ancient Egyptian mythology.  There is no mention whatever of Islam.)  Here, I have to admit that he puzzles me a bit, because for all of his praise of the Christian ethic (and there is a tremendous amount here), I can’t quite figure out if he actually, you know, is one.

For one thing, he makes some odd assertions.  He quotes the “Gospel” of Thomas.  He makes a gratuitous reference to Christ’s “androgyny” that seems immaterial.  He talks about the 19th Century Church’s “belief” in faith without works, which I’m pretty sure was isolated to a few Calvinist sects.  (At least it was never part of HMC’s teachings so far as I know.)

For another, he consistently refers to Christ as an “Archetype”.  That’s mythology-speak.  He also discusses Christianity largely in terms of psychological constructs, instead of terms of the relationship between us and a separate, independent God who exists whether we believe in Him or not.  (Nietzsche can go piss up a rope.)  Also, when he writes of the (false) dichotomy between Faith and Science, I can’t tell if he’s merely reporting it, or falls somewhat into the trap himself.

On the other hand, his description of the Logos, the Word of God, is fantastic, as are his thoughts on suffering, sacrifice and what some people call “servant leadership”.  Also, Bishop Robert Barron has been enthusing about him.  So maybe I’m just missing something here.

Another thing Peterson is absolutely fantastic on is the problem of Evil.  He calls it “denial of Being”, which is another way of describing Satan’s “Non serviam!”  It amounts to the complete and utter rejection of nothing less than Creation itself.  In his discussion, he quotes not only Milton’s Lucifer, but also those psychopaths who shot up Sandy Hook and Columbine.  I thank God that I simply cannot fathom that level of depravity.

Anyway, I like what I’ve read, even though I must confess that I rather galloped through it (which may explain some of my questions).  It’s well worth going back and reading more slowly on a chapter by chapter basis.  Unfortunately, and for Heaven’s sake don’t take this the wrong way, as much as I like the book, I’m fairly certain that it won’t get that much play with those who need it more than I do.  My soul is far, far from perfect, but I’m reasonably sure I’m at least headed in the right general direction.  The question is, how do you get the lazy, the shiftless, the narcissistic, or the outright psychotic to sit down and both read and absorb this wisdom?


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Youngest Gel finally got her learner’s permit yesterday.  I think it was her fourth try.

The other two Gels have turned out to be fine drivers, but I worry a bit about this one.  She is somewhat more susceptible to squirrels and shiny things than either of her sisters, and I don’t fancy the idea of her getting distracted behind the wheel.  In fact, she even said something one time about having “poor situational awareness skills”.  I think she was just being flippant, but I laid into her about how she’d better get such skills if she ever expects to drive nonetheless.

I think Eldest must feel the same way because when she got word of the permit she called me and started fussing.  I gently suggested that a) Mom and Dad probably know what they’re doing, and b) she should mind her own business.  The Gel was not mollified.

Anyway, here we go again……

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was chatting with one of his supervisors today about home life (our kids are around the same age) when she said perkily, “So, did your girls do the anti-gun walk outs yesterday?”

“No,” I replied, as flatly as I dared.  Just that, and then I moved on to some other topic.

My boss looked genuinely surprised, and I think was within an ace of asking, “Why not?” when she caught herself.  It was just as well, because Ol’ Robbo has a very firm rule about not discussing politicks down to the shop, and while I wouldn’t have got into the merits of the thing, I would have had to explain this rule, which would be just as awkward in its own way.

Of course, the actual answer is that, like their old father, the Gels believe these Koncerned Kidz protests to be ill-informed, misguided, and simply pawns being deliberately manipulated by the forces of authoritarianism that seek every opportunity to try and disarm law-abiding citizens instead of dealing with the actual root issues such as, in this case, the complete and utter failure of every level of society and government to deal with a homicidal maniac before the bullets started flying, plus its additional failure to deal with him once the shooting actually started.  That’s what the Kidz ought to be protesting.

Stupid Kidz.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Following up on my previous post about the fall-out from the latest nor’easter-related power outage, I am here to tell you that the Great Port Swiller Manor Debate About Whether To Invest In A Generator has at last, 18 years on, been resolved.

Short version? We’re getting one.

Longer version? W.S. Gilbert’s “Unbridled Domesticity” can be….difficult.

You see, when Ol’ Robbo said, “Yeah, I guess we probably could do with a generator,” my idea was something in the 500 to 1000 dollar range.  You know, the sort of thing that sits on a cart, and when you need it, you gas it up from your lawn-mower can.  My reasoning was that, when the power went out, all we really needed was something to keep the HVAC juiced up.  Lights we could supply. Spoiled stuff in the fridge and freezers we could discount.

Fool that I was, I left it to Mrs. R to research.

Mrs. Robbo is, shall we say, not much of a stoic.

She called me the other morning with her report.

“Okay,” she said, “I had a guy out to do an estimate.  Before you say ‘no’, just hear me out.  We can get 18 months to pay without interest.”


“Yes, 18 months.  And the system will cover everything.”

“Wait…18 months? How much does it cost?”

“Cover everything.  It hooks up to the gas line and automatically kicks in….”

“Wait, wait! How much does it cost that we need to finance it?”

She told me.

Jesus. Mary. Joseph.

“Well, if we don’t get it, I’m checking in to a hotel every time a big storm approaches.  And I’ll take as many pets as I can and board the rest…..”

I got thinking about it.  We lose power rayther a lot around here – in winter due to ice and snow, in summah due to violent thunderstorms.  Most of the time, it’s only for a few hours, but occasionally, it can be for several days on end.  If you do a straight cost/benefit analysis, it’s better to let Mrs. R go to a hotel for the longer outages than it is to invest in a stand-by generator.   But you know what? There is also an incalculable deficit related to the bother and fuss of having her do so.  If you’re married, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Bottom line? We’re in for the heavy stuff.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I’ll start with the obligatory grumbling about having to put the clocks forward, but that hasn’t really hit Ol’ Robbo just yet.  The Mass I go to on Sundays isn’t until noon, so an hour one way or the other doesn’t have any impact on me the first day.  I’ll pay for it tomorrow, however, when I once again have to get up for work in the dark.  (Grumble, grumble.)

Ol’ Robbo spent a pleasant Saturday morning doing his first yardwork of the season, which consisted of cleaning up the debris from last weekend’s nor’easter.  I’m just a leetle alarmed at how stiff and sore I am from dragging about tarps full of branches and then throwing them (the branches) out on the brush pile. Damned maples – they’ll drop wood if you say “Boo!” at them.

I also fertilized the hollies and azaleas. Want a good test of whether somebody’s a garden nerd? Ask ’em what they think of the smell of Holly-Tone.  If they like it, they’re definitely of the green-thumb brotherhood.

Finally, may I present the English Major’s landscaping friend? Yes, it’s the Mulch Calculator!  Good thing I double-checked my own feeble math against it, because I would have waaaay over-bought.

Next week it’s Robbo vs. the Butterfly Bushes

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy International Talk Like A Woman Day!

You know, where you talk through your nose? And end every sentence as a question? Up-talking, anyone?

Wait…that can’t be right.  Oh, maybe it’s:

International Preserving The Ability Of Women To Kill Other Unborn Women Day!

Spot on sub-text no doubt, at least in the West, but not much acknowledged outright.  Um, how about:

International Anybody’s A Woman Who *Believes* They’re A Woman Day!

Actually, I’ve read that there’s a real civil war in the fever swamps of the Left over this issue.


So just what the heck is International Women’s Day anyway?  According to Wiki:

March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference to become an “International Woman’s Day.” After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

I think that one paragraph pretty much sums up everything you really need to know.

At any rate, whatever it is, I’ll just take the opportunity to note my gratitude once more that my three daughters have grown up thoroughly despising Cultural Marxism, identity politicks, “Third Wave” feminism, and all the emotionally and psychologically stunted creatures with permanent Daddy-issues who live by such wretched codes, and instead are traditionalists, rational, skeptical, and self-aware.

(Oh, and as I was typing this, one of them came to me and asked me to get a jar open for her because the lid was on too tight.  Heh.)

UPDATE:  RBJ’s mention of Marie Curie in the comments reminded me of an apropos story:  One day, when Ol’ Robbo must have been about 13 or so, I said something to the Mothe to the effect that it didn’t seem fair that many more men went to med school than did women. (I don’t recall what prompted this.)

“Goddamit!” the Mothe snapped, “The first woman to get a medical degree in this country, Elizabeth Blackwell, did it in 1849.  Since then, any woman who’s really wanted to go to med school hasn’t had a single, bloody excuse not to!”

I didn’t pursue the thought any farther.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Without looking it up, I believe it was Chesterton who said something to the effect that insanity could be defined as repeatedly doing exactly the same thing but expecting different results.  Ol’ Robbo found himself thinking about this as he watched “Red Tails” on cable last evening.  It’s one of those movies I’ll generally stop on if I’m flipping through the teevee channels and can’t find anything else.

Somehow, each time I find myself hoping it’s better than I remember it being.  After all, the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII are a noble and uplifting subject.  And yet, every time I’m  disappointed anew.  The movie is just plain bad: cardboard characters, completely predictable and clichéd dialogue, and CGI Mustangs doing unpossible things.

A pity.

But maybe…just maybe….next time…….

Anyhoo a few notes on some other historickal movies that have come through my Netflix queue of late:

Drums Along the Mohawk” (1939)- Upstate New York settlers fighting off the Iroquois during the Revolutionary War.  It’s funny: I’ve seen this film probably three or four times, but couldn’t remember a single thing about it from previous viewings.  This time around I decided I really don’t care for it very much, despite the presence of the lovely and talented Claudette Colbert.  Too much “Ye Olde” about it, I guess.  Also, I’ve decided once and for all that the only costume genre Henry Fonda had any business being in was Westerns.  (I was reminded of his role as Pierre in that bizarre adaptation of “War and Peace“.  In speaking of Napoleon’s armies, even all dolled up as a Russian noble, he may as well have been talking of the Comanche.)

The Howards of Virginia” (1940) – Now this one was new to me and I actually quite liked it.  Another Revolutionary War film in which young up-and-coming frontiersman Cary Grant plucks Martha Scott out of Tidewater Society (under her brother Cedric Hardwicke’s nose) and builds her an estate out in the Shenandoah.  As the political situation collapses, trouble ensues.  It seemed Grant couldn’t decide whether to stick with an Irish accent or not, but otherwise I thought it a good story well acted.  (A lot of the exteriors were filmed at Colonial Williamsburg not long after it had been rescued and refurbished.)

Beau Geste” (1939)- With Gary Cooper in the title role.  I’ve been wanting to see this for years, and it was well worth it.  P.C. Wren’s convoluted story-lines and rich dialogue could never be completely replicated on the screen, but I thought the movie did a fine job in presenting the story.  (And on that front, I’ve now really got to track down “The Desert Song” and watch it.)

Ivanhoe” (1952)- The tale of knightly strife between Saxons and Normans under Wicked King John.  A pretty good  chain-mail story (although I confess I haven’t read Scott in years and years).  And how’d you like to be Robert Taylor  with a young Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine fighting over you!  Tough life, eh?  This film reminded me that I want to go back and have a look at the Anthony Andrews tee-vee version, which I haven’t seen in 35-odd years but have a vague recollection was pretty well done, too.

Caesar and Cleopatra” (1945) – I’ll tell you truly, friends – Ol’ Robbo could watch Claude Rains all day and every day.  And even though Vivian Leigh was quite off her rocker, she’s still mighty easy on the eyes.  (OTOH, I am now firmly convinced that Stewart Granger was nothing more than beefcake.  Even when playing the large-living Apollodorus, he couldn’t really act that much.)  Finally, while there are many things about Mr. G.B. Shaw which Ol’ Robbo finds objectionable, I will give it to the man that he wielded a mighty witty pen.

Oh, I’m also reminded that yesterday was the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.  Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t noticed either of the major screen treatments running on cable this week.  (Perhaps they did when we were without power over the weekend.)  I haven’t seen the John Wayne version in years and need to toss it in the queue.  Of course, that was mostly the Dook being the Dook, but is that such a bad thing?  Some time fairly recently I also actually tried the 2004 version and was pleasantly surprised in that it wasn’t half as awful as I dreaded: I doubt seriously whether there was much room for Billy Bob Thornton’s ironic self-awareness on the frontier in 1836, but otherwise I thought it was a reasonably fair treatment.  (And yes, the real Col. Travis was something of a preening twit.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo likes to believe that he keeps up with things in general, so he was somewhat surprised that his first inkling that a nor’easter was inbound came last Thursday evening when the local schools started making noises about cancelling the next day due to “high wind warnings”.

Without any other source of information, I pretty much poo-pooed the “high wind warning” stuff.  Imagine my surprise, then, to wake up in the middle of the night and hear it blowing like a real summbich.  I also woke up just in time (about 3 ack emma) for the power to go out.

It finally came back on again just about 20 minutes ago (and it’s now about 7 pip emma Monday evening).

We weren’t quite reduced to burning the furniture and eating the cats, but it was not a pleasant weekend.

This is about the third or fourth extended power-outage (meaning more than 24 hours) that I can recall experiencing in our 18 years in Port Swiller Manor.  At least with the summah storm ones, I can hide from the heat in the basement in relative comfort.  In the winter? One really can’t escape the cold.

UPDATE:  Greetings, again, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, friends of the decanter, it’s two posts in one!  Ol’ Robbo had meant to write more last evening when the lights first came back on, but he was so tired he simply slapped up the above and let it go at that.  Therefore, a few more details:

Eldest Gel’s spring break began on Friday, which meant she had to drive home in the teeth of the storm. You can imagine how I felt on having to welcome her back to a house with no power and no heat.  FWIW, she was an awfully good sport about it.

Skimming the nooz articles, I see that, at least in terms of winds and damages, the press are comparing this storm to the great Derecho  of 2012, the summah storm about which I was thinking when I wrote the above.  The big difference is that this time around, the wind blew like hell for a good 48 hours, while the derecho was over and done in about ninety minutes.  (Interesting that the destruction – from what I’ve seen – was more or less the same: Some respectable limbs down in the Port Swiller yard and a healthy number of whole trees elsewhere.)

The lovely and talented Diane mentions the Great Port Swiller Generator Debate in the comments.  Yes, Mrs. R was on the phone getting quotes as early as Saturday afternoon, but I counseled a cooling off period before we think about this investment again.  Honestly, I would be happy if we could find something just powerful enough to keep the HVAC operational, and maybe the fridge.  The rest (lights, laundry, oven, etc.) we can do without until whatever the situation is over.

Speaking of which, at one point over the weekend Youngest Gel said, “This is SO like living in the Middle Ages!”  I replied, “Middle Ages,  hell!  This is the way most people (including most Americans) lived not much more than a hundred years ago.  So stuff it.”  Ain’t I the Greatest Dad?

Situations like this ultimately remind Ol’ Robbo of the sobering fact that in the event of a real catastrophe – say a North Korean EMP burst or the Yellowstone Caldera cooking off – we are, to put it simply, doomed.  I guess I’m just not…passionate enough to go all Prepper and stockpile the basement with five years’ worth of food, supplies, and ammunition.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Did you all see this charming item?

South Africa’s parliament has voted in favour of a motion that will begin the process of amending the country’s Constitution to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation.

The motion was brought by Julius Malema, leader of the radical Marxist opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters, and passed overwhelmingly by 241 votes to 83 against.

God-damned Communists.  Every. Single. Time.

When Ol’ Robbo was an undergrad at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown CT back in the mid-80’s, “Divest” was all the rage among the Kulturni.  There were rallies and protests and boycotts and Board meeting disruptions and a mock “shanty” town out on the lawn, and all the rest of it.

I drew politickal cartoons for the school’s small conservative newspaper, and in one of them I tried to illustrate the idea that South Africa was a lot more problematic than these people seemed to realize (or really care, for that matter).  I certainly held no brief for Apartheid, but I argued that capital flight would likely bring down the government and create a power vacuum which would quickly be filled by Communists within the ANC with Soviet backing.  (Can you imagine how happy Ivan would have been to get a naval base at the Cape, to say nothing of all those minerals?)  My main point was that under such a new regime, the lot of the typical black South African would probably have been much worse than it already was.

As I found out, this is not an easy concept to illustrate with pictographic metaphors.  Nonetheless, I must have at least partially succeeded because the cartoon I came up with probably garnered more blow-back (including several threats) than any other one I did.

Even though the Soviets collapsed and Mandela proved to be a better force for good than I feared, my point still stands:

“The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice,” Malema was quoted by News24 as telling parliament.

Oh, and if you think this is strictly a Black/White thing, I’d ask you to think again:  As history has proved amply, Marxist “justice” ain’t exactly discriminating, if you know what I mean.



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