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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel was telling me this evening about a classmate of hers in government who was having a hissy-fit today because some Congress-Critter referred to our “God-given rights”.

“They can’t say that!” the kid purportedly sputtered.  “That violates separation of Church and State! REEEEEEE!!!!

The Gel basically told her not to be a fool, but I gathered she did so more instinctually than rationally.

So I explained a little bit about the Founders’ understanding of individual rights being inherent to our nature as human beings, based on the Divine spark within us, and their further understanding that government is supposed to serve us, not the other way round.   I explained that the whole purpose of the Constitution is to set up a system of government that is functional in that purpose without undermining those rights.  I explained that once one gives up the idea that rights are both individual and inherent and concedes to a system wherein they are collective and doled out or taken away by the State, one has basically surrendered to tyranny, however dolled up in “The Public Good” rhetoric it might be.

Oh, and I also explained what the Establishment Clause actually means, that there is no “Separation” Clause, and why her friend is, in fact, a fool.

She got all this, and was also able to tie it in to her studies (she showed a real knowledge of the Amendment process, for example, and had intelligent things to say about Federalism), but I could see that I’m going to need to do some more ‘splainin’.  Being able to retail the history and mechanics of the system is all well and good.  But without understanding the underlying “why” of it, even a bright kid like the Gel is always in danger of skidding off into the pit.

On the other hand, being able to articulate a rational, historickally-informed position on these matters these days may be of little practical use to the Gel, since from what I can see the debate on this as well as on just about every other issue seems to be almost exclusively centered on “muh feels”.

Further, according to the New York Times and its “1619 And All That” Project, all of my points are completely illegitimate, the American system is morally null and void, and I am committing wrong think here.  So there is that.


** Spot the quote.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Rumors have started circulating that Gary Larson may be about to bring “The Far Side” cartoons out of retirement.

Ol’ Robbo was a great fan of TFS back in the day, but I have to confess that I have mixed feelings about this.  Way back when, Larson was an absurdist, plain and simple.  But that was before the culture turned into the wretched, polarized, hyper-politicized, Jacobin hate-fest that it is these days.  Can Larson return with a wit enjoyable to a vast and variegated audience?  (So far as Ol’ Robbo recalls, he rarely, if ever, got mixed up in politicks.)  Would he even want to?  Or will he swallow the virtue-signaling Kool-Aid?  (And if you think the latter can’t happen, I’ve got two words for you:  Berke. Breathed.)

We shall see, I guess.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel is home for the weekend after the conclusion of the opening three-week “mini-mester” at school.  She and Mrs. R are out having coffee at the moment.

Later, Mrs. R will be throwing herself in her car and heading down to Middle Gel’s school, where they’re having Parents Weekend.  Specifically, she’s going because the Gel’s sorority is having some kind of “parent pinning ceremony”.  She’s taking with her goody-bags for MG’s sorority big sister, her roommate, and a couple others.  Earlier this week, she also had cupcakes delivered to an initiation ceremony for the service club Eldest is in at her school.

Frankly, Ol’ Robbo thinks “parent-pinning” is silly.  I also think trying to relive college vicariously through one’s kids is a sure sign of the middle-aged crazies.

When I pointed these things out to Mrs. R, she hit me.

Can’t imagine why……..

UPDATE:  Eldest just sent me this announcement from her school –

God’s Holy Trousers.

Maybe this is just a setup:  List all these lefty talking points to draw attention, and then knock them out of the park one by one during the actual talk.  I certainly hope so.  Because otherwise, just damn.  (The Gel knows enough about Constitutional history to be able to knock them out herself, but there are an awful lot of jellyheads out there who don’t.)

UPDATE DEUX:  Eldest looked this fellah up and tells me he looks pretty conservative.  So it seems more likely that the “myths, misunderstandings, and mistakes” in the title refer to the idiot stuff in the body of the announcement, and that his talk will be an explanation of why.

Sorry to be so paranoid, but given what passes for “higher education” these days, it’s at least understandable.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

(No, Ol’ Robbo is not watching this evening’s edition of the Democratic Clown Car debate:  They all seem to want me dead, or at least silenced, defenseless, and impoverished, so I fail to see why I should vote for any of them.)

Ol’ Robbo just got finished re-reading a delightful set of stories, Dr. Dogbody’s Leg by James Norman Hall.

Dr. Dogbody is a one-legged, semi-retired Royal Navy surgeon of the Napoleonic Era.  In each of the ten stories, he holds forth among a group of regulars at the Cheerful Tortoise, a Portsmouth inn,  telling each time a completely different story of how he lost his leg.  The stories put him at various battles with the French, the Americans, and the Dutch, while one involves the slave trade, another an Australia-bound convict ship, and a third an encounter with Catherine the Great.  There’s no effort to try and reconcile any of them with each other.  Instead, it seems as if each one is true as the Doctor is telling it.

The stories are warm, intelligent, and quite historically accurate.  Hall’s style is not as rich as Patrick O’Brian’s (the Aubrey/Maturin novels), but he’s not as pop culture as C.S. Forester (the Hornblower series), either.  Really somewhere in the middle.  And perhaps more importantly, Hall doesn’t try to sensationalize late 18th/early 19th-Century conditions for the shock-value, as so many historickal novelists are wont to do.  Like O’Brian, he simply takes things as they were and tells his stories within that context.

James Norman Hall, by the way, was an American WWI fighter ace.  He was also co-author of the Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy, which I now also very much want to read.

Anyhoo, if you have any interest in sea-stories, I heartily recommend this book.

(Incidentally, the Heart of Oak Sea Classics is an interesting publishing compilation.  In addition to Hall’s novel, there’s a lot of Dudley Pope, whom I like, and Frederick Marryat, whom I’ve not read but believe has a good reputation.  On the other hand, it also contains James Fenimore Cooper’s The Wing-And-Wing.  I can’t abide Cooper, who’s a pompous, pretentious, limousine-liberal wind-bag, and could never understand how on earth his novels attained the popularity that they did.  Sam Clemens’ literary evisceration of Cooper is a pure delight to me.)

UPDATE:  I originally considered mentioning that I re-read this book because I’ve recently gone back to commuting by Metro because my office changed locations and I need suitable light, episodic material for my travels.  I cut that out because it didn’t seem all that important.  But this nooz about the WaPo shutting down its Commuter Express paper caught my eye and prompted me to come back to this topic.

The Express was a free WaPo-light paper handed out by bums at Metro stops.

I never read it  myself, but back in the day numerous other hip denizens of Your Nation’s Capital did.

That was then.  Now?  All of them are buried in their iThingies.  (It’s pathetic when they’re stationary on the trains.  It’s infuriating when they’re walking through the stations, oblivious of people trying to get by around them.)

Because They Care.

As far as Pravda on the Potomac itself goes, I’d say LOLGF.  But what happens to the bum at my station who suddenly no longer is paid to hand out the Express?  The world wonders.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Labor Day!

Ol’ Robbo is marking the day by basically loafing in his hammock.  Because after all,  in this age of Inclusiveness Uber Alles, surely it’s of the utmost importance that those who sit about on their duffs also be celebrated today every bit as much as those who work.  (And if you disagree, you’re a hater!)

As a matter of fact, I view this day simply as a marker of the end of Summah and return of Autumn.  The “Labor” in the title is too closely associated in my mind with Marxist economic theory and the misery its many forms have spread about the world over time.  It’s simply a collectivist monster.  And the “worker” at the root of such theory has no individual meaning, no individual value.  He’s merely a pawn, a cog in a greater machine, cannon-fodder for his political masters and easily eliminated when no longer needed.  Hardly something worth raising a glass about.

No, for a proper celebration of the worth and merit of an individual’s labors, I prefer to celebrate May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Funny enough, the Mothe’s father was some kind of union organizer back in the 30’s.  (I know no more specifics than that.)  In those days she told me, he swallowed Uncle Joe Stalin’s promise of a glorious worker’s paradise hook, line, and sinker.  However, after the War when the truth began to get out, he swung completely over to the other end of the spectrum.  Supposedly, he named his dog “Harry Truman” so that he could stand out on his front steps and yell, “Truman! Come here, you son of a bitch!”

Yes, Grampa Joe was a little nutz.  I only remember meeting him once, when I was six or seven, and even my tender mind noticed it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some important nothing to do…….


** Without looking it up, I’m pretty sure this (or something much like it) is a line from one of Wodehouse’s School Stories.

UPDATE:  Well, Ol’ Robbo was going to cook out this evening, but Ma Nature pawned me.  She sent down one thundershower early to get my attention, and then kept threatening a second one until past the point when I needed to fire up the coals.  In my younger, rasher days, I would have shaken my fist at the sky in defiance and gone all in.  This time?  I blinked and cooked everything on the stove top instead.  Of course, the second t-shower failed to materialize.  Well played, Ma.  Well played.

And speaking of such things, I gather we find out in the next 24 to 48 hours whether Middle Gel is going to be shooed out of the Tidewater because of Hurricane Dorian.  She got the boot this time last year because of Hurricane Florence, so she’d be batting two for two over her college career if she comes home again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with one thing and another, Ol’ Robbo had never seen “3:10 To Yuma” before last evening.  (The 1957 original, that is, not the Russell Crowe remake.)  And do you know, aside from the completely hokey theme song, I really, really liked this film.  The plot is a kind of psychological thriller of the “High Noon” school, where one honest man tries to stick to what’s Right in the face of betrayal, bribery, threat, temptation, and danger.  Van Heflin is perfect as the shlub farmer who finds himself deputized and alone.  And Glenn Ford is alarmingly scary as the murderer Heflin guards while waiting for a train to take him away, being alternately menacing, reasonable, charming, and more menacing.  But I also loved the way the whole thing was put together.  I simply don’t know the vocabulary of cinematography, but I could somehow see and understand how and why the various shots and sequences were framed the way they were and how it all built on itself.  Very well done, indeed.

The other night I also happened to watch “Broken Arrow“.  (The 1950 western, that is, not the 1996 John Travolta/Christian Slater action flick which is fun in itself.)  In this one, Juh-Juh-Jimmy Stewart is a scout on the southwest frontier in the 1870’s who finds and saves a wounded Apache boy.  This leads to a meeting with the great chief Cochise and gets Jimmuh to wondering whether a peace couldn’t be worked out between the Apaches and the whites, since they are all men in the end.  General O.O. Howard agrees with Jimmuh, so he undertakes to open negotiations.  During the course of events, Jimmy meets Sonsee-array, Cochise’s daughter.  They fall in love, but of course things aren’t going to be all that easy.  It’s an okay film, I suppose, known for being one of the first to take a far more sympathetic view of the Indians, but I think the Noble Savage bit was probably a bit overdone.

And one extremely pedantic historickal point:  The real Sonsee-array was not the daughter of Cochise, but of Mangus Colorado.  In fact, Cochise married another of Mangus’s daughters, making Sonsee-array his sister-in-law.  Just thought I’d clear that up in case you ever find yourself in a bar-bet on the matter.

UPDATE: Long-time friend of the decanter Sleepy Beth checks in with her own review of “Jupiter Ascending”, a movie Ol’ Robbo has not seen and now probably won’t.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo saw this article early this morning:  Burlington (VT) City Council Opposes F-35 Fighter Jets At Airport.

WCAX-TV reports the council voted unanimously on Monday in favor of a resolution that opposes the basing of any nuclear-capable aircraft at the airport in South Burlington. The resolution also requests that Mayor Miro Weinberger, Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont’s congressional delegation tell the Department of Defense that the F-35s are not welcomed in Burlington.

The article actually filled me with a weird sense of nostalgia.  Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember the “Nuclear-Free Zone” fad back during the Reagan years, with numerous city councils and other bodies feeling that with a mere paper resolution they could somehow opt out in the event the Cold War went hot. (Virtue-signaling is, of course, really nothing new.)

Indeed, we even had a movement at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT.  A wave of hysteria swept over the campus, the fear being that if Ivan had a go at the sub pens over to New London, one of their missiles might come down on us inadvertently, or else we might get caught in the fallout even if they hit their target.  Hence, somebody organized a petition to have Dear Ol’ Wes declared a No-Nukes Zone.  (There was a concurrent petition to demand that the campus clinic stock cyanide capsules, because if the Russkies dropped the Big One, what was the point of living any longer?  They got that idea from the kids over at Brown.)

Because everybody knew that a Strongly-Worded Resolution would shield the place from attack.  Because reasons.  Because that sumbitch Ronnie “Ray-Gun”. Because shut up.

I mocked the whole silly biznay with gusto.  (You could still do so back then without fear of getting hauled up before a campus “hate-crime” tribunal.)  As a matter of fact, as staff cartoonist for the lone conservative paper on campus, I created a panel the upshot of which was that a brown paper bag placed over one’s head made every bit as effective a Personal Nuclear-Free Zone as did any campus-wide resolution in fending off the realities of any actual exchange with Ivan.

I was rather proud of the thing, although as you might imagine it didn’t win me many friends.

Don’t remember whether anything came of the anti-nuke resolution.  I do recall that the administration, very sensibly, declined to stock suicide pills.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo notes that today is this blog’s 11th anniversary.

Maybe the thing to celebrate is not that it thrives but that it survives at all.   Twenty “hits” and one or two comments is a good day for me.  I can’t even remember the last time somebody actually “linked” me.   The retirees on my blogroll far outnumber those who are still active.

But you know? So what.  As long as I still enjoy hauling out the ol’ laptop and posting whatever runs across my braims, I’ll keep doing it.  Even if it means I’m essentially just typing to myself.

In the meantime, I do feel tremendous gratitude for those of you who stick around here and take those posts in.  And if there aren’t that many here?  It just means there’s more port and Stilton for the rest of us!

So charge your glasses, pray, gunn’ls under, and here’s to 11 Years with three times three and no heel taps!

MULTI-SUBJECT UPDATE:  Thankee, friends!  Thankee muchly!   I say that I do this simply because I enjoy writing, but any blogger who claims that is, in fact, a liar.  The knowledge of making any kind of difference (hopefully for the better) in somebody else’s life and experience with my blatherings far outweighs mere pixilated wanking.

Now for a couple of things.

First, a glass of wine with Melissa Kean who writes over at Rice History Corner and may be a first time commenter here. (At the very least, an infrequent one.)  Welcome!  For what it’s worth as a small historickal nugget, back in the days of my misspent high school yoot in San Antonio in the early 80’s,  Rice was considered the in-state choice for brainiacs and eggheads, a kind of “Texas Ivy”.  I dunno if that perception still holds true.  (For myself, in a class of around 660, I believe I was one of fewer than ten who went out of state.  But then, I was both a Yankee carpet-bagger and a weirdo.)  Oh, and I recall that their marching band was famous for its unconventional performances.  Is that still the case?

Several of you mention the aging factor.  I’d thought about that as well, but the truth is I still think of this place as fairly newish because I first started blogging with the formation of the Llamas back in November, 2003.  That’s ancient history!  Ol’ Robbo still yearns for a bloggy renaissance.  Those first heady days back in the earlies were such fun and so free-spirited.  Of course, the times are considerably different now, but I had hopes that the poisonous and censorious atmospheres of platforms like Twatter and FacePlant would convince folk to come back to the Blogsphere.  (WordPress, bless ’em, have never given me any flak whatsoever for the stuff I put up here.)

Browndog mentions a discussion in the morning thread over at the Ewok’s Place today about John Boorman’s original plan to do a Lord of the Rings movie back in the late 70’s which got kyboshed because of costs.  He wound up doing “Excalibur” instead.  Yes, I did see that, although I didn’t open up the linkies because work.  It’s not unreasonable to believe that had Boorman done LOTR, Peter Jackson maybe would not have.  And long-time friends of the decanter know all about what Ol’ Robbo thinks of Peter Jackson.  On the other hand, if Boorman had carried on through with the project and “Excalibur” hadn’t been made, would we have still got a young, nekked Helen Mirren?  I think not. Just sayin’.

Finally, did somebody say….Mélissa Theauriau??!!

Yes, indeedilly-didilly! ***


*** Another Llama blast-from-the-past.  And yes, I need to get to Confession anyway……





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Much against every fiber of his better judgment and overcome by curiosity, Ol’ Robbo actually let himself watch the new trailer for the movie “Cats“.

According to ancient myth, Pandora opened the forbidden box and released all the evils into the world.  I opened the Yootoob and unleashed on my braim a collection of CGI-enhanced abominations it will never now be able to unsee.

Once Pandora acted, Hope remained left in her box.  All Robbo got were some stinky clumps of litter.

Jesus. Mary. Joseph.

I always though the stage “Cats” was bad enough.  Being compelled to watch an Andrew Lloyd Webber production to me is something akin to being forced to chug a 55-gallon drum of bubble-gum flavored cough syrup.  I simply thought it couldn’t get any worse.

This is.

I saw the thing, incidentally, over at the Hitler Rants Parodies reaction (which is why I saw it, as I do like those things so), and I think Mein Failüre has a salient point.  The original musical premiered back in 1981.  In those days, the line between reality and imagination was much more clearly defined, and the vast majority of people (who go in for that sort of drek) could enjoy the show while recognizing at the same time that It. Was. Being. Put. On. By. People. In. Cat. Suits.  I fear with the current state of insanity into which we seem to have plunged as a culture, coupled with the whiz-bang techno-animation, that a lot of folk will look at this train wreck, like it, and decide that they are cats as well, and furthermore demand that the rest of us respect this.

Think Ol’ Robbo is exaggerating? Wait for it.

So the normalization of “furries” will kick up another notch.  Deliberate Hollywood social engineering?  Or the by-product of another tired retread by an industry out of ideas.  I’d probably say that we should embrace the power of “and” here.

Anyhoo, I’ve seen enough already to send me close enough to the edge of insanity for my taste, so won’t look on it again.

By the bye, anybody got any tuna?  I’m kinda hungry.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo might have added that, the newest abomination aside, his ire at the whole damn franchise runs miles deep.  This is because one of his cherished memories (ack!) from his misspent yoot was the Mothe’s bedtime readings from Mr. T.S. Eliot’s original materials.  “The Old Gumbie Cat”, “The Rum-Tum Tugger”, and “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” remain implanted in the lumber rooms of my mind even today.

Indeed, so much did these poems impress Ol’ Robbo that he made a point of naming the third cat of his adult life (after Bertie and Jeeves, our original pair), Jennyanydots (shortened to Jenny for everyday use).  Friends of the decanter have no idea how aggravated I got having to explain to people that no, no, no, her name had nothing to do with A.L. Bloody Webber, but instead with the poem.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is just checking in this fine Monday Morning (if there is such a thing) to see if the world has got any more insane over the first few days of his summah hols.

Let’s just say I’m not surprised by what I find.

This is definitely one of those do-nothing vacations for me.  At the moment, Ol’ Robbo is ensconced at his in-laws, largely that they may indulge themselves in grandchildren.  Mercifully, they’ve learned over the years that the best thing to do with me on these visits is to leave me be in a corner somewhere and forget about me.  Thus left, I have spent the past few days wallowing in bottomless cups of kawfee, a few glasses of wine, and some good summah reading, mostly P.C. Wren (Beau Geste and Beau Sabreur) and Kipling (Puck of Pook’s Hill, which I’ve not read before).

Most of the rest of my vacay will be spent back at Port Swiller Manor doing pretty much the same thing, with the addition of my various chores about the house and mense.

All in all, pretty restful.

Speaking of glasses of wine, t’other day, Ol’ Robbo was questioning here why America’s manned space program hasn’t pushed on further out since the end of the Apollo Program but has instead frittered itself away in low earth orbit.  So it was with some amusement that I noted this story this morning:  Red Wine could be Secret to Keeping Us Fit for Life on Mars: Study.

Now Ol’ Robbo has always pushed the manned space exploration angle strictly from the comfort of his armchair.  Frankly, I’d be too terrified to ever actually go up myself.  (Heck, regular friends of the decanter are well away of the hard time I have just dealing with commercial aviation.)  But if they need middle-aged fellahs to follow up on this research?

Hey, NASA.  I’m your huckleberry!

Moar holiday posting later…..

(A glass of wine with Sarah Hoyt over at the Puppy-Blender’s place.)

UPDATE:  Finished off all the Wren I have with me.  Starting in on the Kipling, I suddenly remembered why I have the book:

As regular friends of the decanter may recall, one of the small hobgoblins that haunts the mind of Ol’ Robbo is a possible literary reference in the works of Mr. Evelyn Waugh.  In his Handful of Dust, poor old Tony Last repeatedly refers to a story he read as a child about a Viking longboat showing up beneath the walls of Constantinople.  That image has always appealed to me and I’ve wondered for a long time where it could possibly have come from.

I think it was the last time I mentioned this here that somebody suggested Puck of Pook’s Hill as a likely candidate, and it at least seems plausible.  In the story, two children meet Puck (yes, that Puck) in a quiet corner of the English countryside.  By the power of oak, ash, and thorn, Puck invites them to travel back in time to meet the various historickal persons who have crossed the same piece of ground.  (The first story, which I’m currently reading, involves a young Norman knight who came over with the Conqueror.  A couple days after Hastings, he has to deal with settling his authority on a Saxon manor.)  I’ll let you know if Norsemen are spotted in Byzantium.

Even if the story referred to by Mr. Woo isn’t in this book, I already find it’s raising themes which I’ve long known and loved in the works of other traditional Brit writers:  Merlin and the Pagan Times; Roman occupation; Arthur; the Saxons; the coming of Christianity; the Conqueror.  (And that C.S. Lewis chose to name the children in the Narnia Chronicles ‘Pevensey’ is no accident.)  And so on.  (Even Hy-Brasil, which I first learned of, of all fool things, from the Python movie “Eric the Viking” gets a mention.)  Ol’ Robbo loves to wallow in this rich literary and historickal tradition, probably even more so these days since it’s been almost completely wiped out from contemporary conscience by those who would establish their Brave New World.

To such people, I say Puck Off!

UPDATE DUEX:  Well, we’ve had a longboat adventure in which both a Norman and a Saxon participate, but they go to the Bight of Benin and fight gorillas for gold instead of Constantinople.  Perhaps we’ll get another chance later.  At the moment, I’m headed for Hadrian’s Wall.

UPDATE TROIS: Finished.  No more longboats.  It must have been some other source.  BTB, here’s a link to the two hundred (not single) Viking longboat attack on Constantinople in 860 A.D.



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