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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
This evening, ol’ Robbo popped over to the devil’s website and bought himself the 7oth Anniversary Edition of “Gone With The Wind”. Why? Because he fears that, if some people have their way, the movie will be disappeared from public view as suddenly have been all Confederate-relatated symbols at National Park gift stores, major retailers and on-line game producers, and as some hope will be at various national memorials, statues and monuments.
Not that I hold any particular brief for displaying the Confederate Battle Flag. I certainly wouldn’t want one. After all, my people were Scots Presbyterian Abolitionists who ran a stop on the Underground Railroad in southern Ohio, and my great, great grandfather was a Union artillery officer who fought in the Atlanta Campaign. But I tolerate the right of others to display the CBF much as I’m asked to tolerate things like crucifixes in jars of wee-wee or Illinois Nazis (I hate Illinois Nazis) or Che or Mao t-shirts, and I fear and detest this kind of digital Jacobin airbrushing.
Anyhoo, this allows me to trot out a story I’m sure I’ve told here before: Mrs. R had a classmate in college whose grandmother knew Margaret Mitchell back in the day and who attended the world premier of GWTW in Atlanta. A year or two after we were married, we dropped in on this classmate for a visit and got taken to meet her grandmother at brunch. As I recall, teh woman was aged and petite but ramrod-straight.
When the classmate introduced us to her grandmother, the woman’s first question was, “Wheyah are you from?”
“Well, we live just outside Dee Cee in teh Virginia suburbs,” I answered.
“No, no,” she said, “Wheyah are yor people from?”
“Erm…,” I replied, “Well, my family has roots in Ohio and Upstate New York, and Mrs. R is from Long Island.”
“Oh,” she sniffed, and I could tell exactly what she was thinking: “Dayum Yankees!”
UPDATE: Whoops! Catching up on the comments to posts below, I see that I, in fact, told this same story within the past 48 hours. Sorry about that. Know what else I’ve done two days straight? Accidentally left my wallet at the office.
I thought I had a few years before Alzheimers’s set in. Guess not.
UPDATE DEUX: Prof. Mondo has thoughts on the vainglory and moral preening behind the airbrush movement.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and OH, HELLZ YEAH!!!
Sweet Briar College will stay open next academic year under a mediation agreement announced today by the state attorney general’s office.
Sweet Briar’s embattled current president will resign as will at least 13 members of the college’s current board of directors under the agreement, which will be presented Monday to Bedford County Circuit Judge James Updike for approval.
The agreement requires Saving Sweet Briar Inc., the alumnae group that filed suit with the Amherst County attorney to block the closing, to deliver $12 million in donations to keep the college open. The first $2.5 million must be delivered by July 2.
Attorney General Mark Herring will agree to release restrictions on $16 million from the college’s endowment to support ongoing operations, according to the agreement.
The agreement represents a significant victory for Saving Sweet Briar and County Attorney Ellen Bowyer – at least 18 new members will be elected to a newly reconstituted board of directors from a list of candidates nominated by the group. The new directors would constitute a majority and control the board.
The new board will appoint Phillip Stone, the former president of Bridgewater College, to replace the college’s current president, James Jones. The change in leadership will occur seven business days after the court approves the settlement.
This is amazingly good news! We had heard yesterday that something big was about to come out, but I wasn’t expecting something quite this big…..
We’re still digesting the initial reports, but the important part is that the deal seems to neutralize the bad players in all this mess and allows Saving Sweet Briar a fighting chance to get the school back on the right track.
It’s still an uphill struggle, but I’ve every confidence that the Vixens can do it.
As you might imagine, both Mrs. Robbo, who as an alum has put in countless hours fighting for the Resistance this spring, as well as the Eldest Gel, who was planning to apply for early admission this fall, are ecstatic.
Bumpers all ’round, ladies and gentlemen, gunn’ls under and no heel taps! Here’s to Sweet Briar with three times three! Holla! Holla! Holla!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ace picked up on a story this afternoon about some hipster-doofus preening over his company establishing a “penalty” jar for anyone using the expression “you guys” in the workplace. Because sexist, non-inclusive micro-aggresion. Or something. G’wan over and read it.
For the record:
As most friends of the decanter know, ol’ Robbo is the sole male entity at Port Swiller Manor, his wife, his children, his cats and his dog all being members of what used to be called the Fairer Sex. I address the various combinations of them as “you guys” all the time. They, at least the ones who speak English, do the same. To date, none of them have burst into flames, turned into pillars of salt or otherwise been reduced to quivering jellies of oppressed helplessness by my thoughtless, patriarchal labels. I get tagged for all kinds of Bad Dad infractions these days, but this ain’t one of them.
And for bonus points? One of my very best friends (besides Mrs. Robbo, of course) is a woman. We’ve known each other a quarter century. We call each other “dude” in homage to our mutual liking of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. Again, no psychological scarring that I’m aware of.
So I’m going to file this one under “passive-aggressive bullying”.
What I wonder is this: In part because of my job and in part just because, Ol’ Robbo is pretty up on teh Innertoobs and all the newz and memes and whatnot that get flashed across them, so I’ve got what amounts to bench seats in the current social wars. Of course I’m going to see things like this. But how much farther out does it travel? How far into what one might call, resorting to classical thinking, the res publica does this kind of virus spread?
My hope, when I find myself feeling overwhelmed from time to time by the SJW assault on Civilisation, is that the majority of people simply ignore such things, either intentionally or else simply because they’re too busy focusing on other matters.
Yes, that’s my hope and I’m sticking to it.
Oh, hang on….I just got a message that there’s a “Mr. Odoacer” at the door who wants to have a word. Be right back. I’m sure he’s just distributing pamphlets or looking for petition signatures.
In the meantime, speaking of Bill and Ted and “Dude!”, one of my favorite bits from the movie:
Ol’ Robbo apologizes for the lack of posting this past week – this and that have imposed themselves upon his limited free time.
However, since the Nats dropped a winnable game to the Yanks rayther early this evening, I at least have a few minutes to get in a little gratuitous Aubrey/Maturin posting now. (For those of you who know what this means, read on. For those of you who don’t, pray follow the link, read up on things, and then visit the devil’s website to order up your copy of Master and Commander, the first book of the series. You won’t regret it.)
Firsto, I should mention that I have been a member of an Aubrey-Maturin Appreciation Society over on teh FaceBooks for some time now, much to my edification and satisfaction. A few months back, one of my fellow members (who happens to be a professional historickal artist) began offering our crew a bumper sticker. I have not received permission to post a screen-shot of it, but I can describe it: Against a background of the Royal Navy flag, it says in bold “AUBREY/MATURIN ’16” with an underlying text of “There’s not a moment to lose, for all love…” I slapped said sticker on the back of La Wrangler a couple days ago, and the puzzled expressions that I’ve seen in my rear-view mirror since then have been priceless.
Secundo, I should mention that in the summah I generally drive with all the back panels off said (soft top) Wrangler, since she has no A/C.
Anyhoo, yesterday, as I left teh office, a violent thunderstorm was bearing down on my particular corner of Your Nation’s Capital. In order to get from my garage to teh route out of town toward Port Swiller Manor, I first have to travel about half a block east before swinging about to pick up the primary westward artery. I did this just as the main blast of teh storm hit, which meant that for a couple moments solid packets of rain were being blown straight in through the backside of La Wrangler, dousing the dashboard, the inside of the windshield, and the back of my head and arms.
My only response? A shrug and a muttered, “Yes, a right dirty commute, mate.”
Eh, I amuse me.
Speaking of which, another source of amusement that will only make sense to local friends: That “primary westward artery” of which I speak is Constitution Avenue, which, of course, eventually empties out on to the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. The ramp for the northbound George Washington Parkway (which I need to take) is on the far side of said TR Bridge, but in order to get to it from Constitution, one must merge over to the right several lanes. This is a major pain at rush hour. In order to avoid it, I have found it makes sense to break off from Constitution just past the White House on Virginia Avenue, take Virginia up past GWU, hit the I-66 on-ramp just opposite the Watergate, and run in on the TR already in the far-righty lane.
Constitution runs due west to the TR. So in order to take my alternate route, I literally run northwest and then southwest. At the critical point where I swing round to pick up the highway over teh bridge, I always say “helm hard over“.
Yes, I amuse me more. But it’s harmless.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
For those of you who do not follow ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals, I should preface this post by noting that the Nats have a lot of new faces in their bullpen this year and, as of the first week of June, are still trying to figure out who are going to be their go-to set up men in the 7th and 8th, ahead of Drew Storen in the 9th.
Among the mix of said faces is Casey Janssen, a pitcher with the Blue Jays of Toronto for some years before coming over to Dee Cee this year. He had some injuries, and has only recently started to appear in our games on a more regular basis.
The few times I’ve seen Janssen whilst watching games on tee-vee, I’ve found myself saying, “Self, who is this guy? Wait! I know! Something to do with heresy…..Arianism? No. Manichaeism? No. Wait! Now I remember! Jansenism!
(I will not even attempt to summarize Jansenism here. Suffice to say that it is a heresy focused on the fault line between free will and predestination.)
Anyhoo, that’s what I use in order to remember him. Crossing streams, I know. However, should he make a good name for himself pitching, that problem goes away.
UPDATE: Oh, I forgot to mention this. After thinking it over, I have self-identifed as Napoleon. In future, I expect all of you friends of the decanter to address me as “Sire“. See to it.
UPDATE DEUX: Most friends of the decanter probably will pick up on the Monty Python riff in the title of this post. (Well, I hope you will.) I should note here that I think this sketch was far funnier in record form than it was in the original tee-vee series. Ol’ Robbo has long-standing opinions on the effectiveness of various Python bits. Some worked best on film, some worked best in studio, some worked best in audio. It all had to do with timing, inflection, and chemistry. Not sure that I can come up with a grand unification theory to explain all my opinions, but they’re definite nonetheless. Go ahead and ask me about a given sketch and I’ll give you my analysis. Go on, I dare you.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, ol’ Robbo hasn’t much postie material to work with this evening. Historickally speaking, particularly for Royal Navy sharks, this is the anniversary both of the Glorious First of June in 1794 and of the celebrated frigate action between USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon in 1813, but I’ve done those before and am not feeling ready to recycle them.
In re current events, much of today’s nooz cycle was taken up with the Supremes’ decision in the case of the Muslim gel who was denied a job at Abercrombie because of her head-scarf. Alas, although I have a very deep professional interest in that decision, I can’t possibly talk about it here. (And my opinion might not be what you think.)
Additionally, the ball game scheduled for this evening between Robbo’s beloved Nats and the Blue Jays of Toronto was postponed due to the monsoon-like conditions that descended on the Dee Cee area this evening and resulted in a right drenching on my commute home.
HOWEVER, for the benefit of those of you stationed about the decanter, now that a dog has joined the strength of the Port Swiller Manor establishment, I have a terrific, automatic fallback whenever I need something about which to write. I mean, who doesn’t like posts about dogs, amirite?
First, she went to the vet this week for a check-up. The vet thinks she’s actually younger than the seven years we were told by the rescue people. Perhaps five or six. Teeth good, ears good, eyes good, heart and lungs good, she’s in fine shape.
Second, she definitely has warmed up to me. Indeed, I spent much of this evening rereading my McAuslan with Daisy flopped out on my lap. I don’t know her actual weight but I would guess it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 lbs. Thus, she’s on the heavy, but still plausible, end of lap-dogdom. She certainly thinks so at any rate.
Third, from our walks together I have noticed that she has an interest in and hatred of Jacobin squirrels that would receive the stamp of approval from Jonah Goldberg’s late, lamented Cosmo. One needs to be careful to keep a firm grip on the leash whenever she gets the idea that these secular-Utopianist tree-rats might be in the immediate area.
Fourth, speaking of walks, in my yoot in the South Texas exurbs, the idea of picking up one’s dog’s, er, output would have been met with howls of derisive laughter. (Of course, we didn’t really “walk” our dogs. Our yard was a couple acres and they mostly did their biznay along the tree-line at the edge. When they dropped closer in, well, you just remembered it and avoided the spot until Ma Nature had disposed of it.) I have not yet got used to this task.
Fifth, the other morning I had my first dog-walking social encounter, spending ten minute chatting with a complete stranger as our pooches got to know each other. I can well see why college boys keep dogs when they can.
Sixth, I am delighted at the way Mrs. R and Daisy have come together. The whole reason I have been without doggy companionship since the early 90’s is that Mrs. Robbo insisted she was not a “dog person”. Daisy has, I think, been an eye-opener for her. Granted, starting from scratch with a puppy is a whole different ball-game, but I already can see that this “starter dog” biznay, i.e., dealing with one that has already been broken in, was the right initial step.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Last evening ol’ Robbo went down the Cathedral to take part in the annual end-of-year choir pot-luck and concert, an event he has come to thoroughly enjoy. After the meal, more or less, the boys and girls put on performances of various pieces they’ve worked up (sometimes at the last minute), some serious and some silly.
For one of her entries, teh Middle Gel, along with two of her mates, served up this lovely setting of the Ave Maria by Jaques Arcadelt (1507-1568). No, I’d never heard of him, either, since my knowledge of Renaissance musick really only centers around the great English composers of the period. It’s only when you get to Monteverdi that I start picking up on Continentals. Anyhoo, here’s what Wiki has to say about him:
Jacques Arcadelt (also Jacob Arcadelt; c. 1507 – 14 October 1568) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigals; his first book of madrigals, published within a decade of the appearance of the earliest examples of the form, was the most widely printed collection of madrigals of the entire era. In addition to his work as a madrigalist, and distinguishing him from the other prominent early composers of madrigals – Philippe Verdelot and Costanzo Festa – he was equally prolific and adept at composing chansons, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris.
Arcadelt was the most influential member of the early phase of madrigal composition, the “classic” phase; it was through Arcadelt’s publications, more than those of any other composer, that the madrigal became known outside of Italy. Later composers considered Arcadelt’s style to represent an ideal; later reprints of his first madrigal book were often used for teaching, with reprints appearing more than a century after its original publication.
So there you are. The Gel, by the way, took the top soprano part and sang divinely as per usual. (She has a cold, poor thing, and was not much satisfied with her performance, but I thought it very good.)
UPDATE: I see where the video has been blocked. Well, you’ll just have to be on your honor to go over to YooToob and look it up for yourselves. Remember, this material will be on the final.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Sorry for the lack of posts, but ol’ Robbo’s been on his back the last couple days with that bug that starts in your stomach and then debones you completely. Bloggy creativity simply was beyond my feeble powers (not that I have much to go on to begin with).
I’m feeling better today, thanks, and can see myself slipping back into the ol’ routine in the very near future.
In the meantime, whilst flopped on my back, I managed to get through Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (the abridged version, anyway*) for the very first time and am about half way through F.A. Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom, again for the first time. Given the news these days, I find both of these books to be very timely, if depressing, reading.
I mentioned not long ago that I had recently read A.S.’s Ivan Denisovitch for the first time and was simply blown away by the raw power and dignity of his writing. I get the same sensation reading Gulag. Even when he’s being sarcastic, even when he loses his literary temper, or perhaps especially when in such mood, A.S. has about him a moral weight which simply flattens everything in its path. An amazing experience.
As for the facts and figures, what on earth can one say? The Middle Gel happens to have just finished a research paper on the Holocaust. As awful as that was, the fact is that Stalin made Hitler look like Mr. Rogers in comparison. And yet people in the West covered up, prevaricated, lied about “Uncle Joe” and his hellish system (which, in fact, went right on back to Lenin and his crew. And so far as I know, ol’ Vlad may very well be using the same system to this day in order to get rid of his own particular set of enemies.). How sick is that? It’s no wonder A.S. saves his most acidic comments for them. (I still remember an argument back in the mid 80’s at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown over Dr. Seuss’s Butter-Battle Book, my antagonist insisting that, like the question of which side of teh bread to butter, there was no real difference between the Western tradition and the Soviet system. That was about as close as I ever came to abandoning logic and reason and belting someone in the mouth for being such an idiot.)
As far as Hayek goes, somebody said that one’s reaction to his writing is a pretty good indicator of one’s own ingrained mindset. Well, to me the man is arguing nothing more than Common Sense. Those who think central (i.e., government) “planning” is the answer to all of Society’s ills overlook one tiny problem with it: It doesn’t work.** It can’t work, simply because there are too many variables floating about for any one person or group of persons to take in all at once. In all of history, only the Market has proven capable of handling such a flood of ever-changing data. Of course, one can greatly decrease those variables if one…..simply turns the population into a uniform group of robot slaves, although it still doesn’t work and a lot of people wind up dead, starving or in prison. Hayek gives the benefit of the doubt to good-hearted collectivists who genuinely seek the betterment of everyone, but history suggests to me that there really are not so many of such ilk, and that the vast majority of said collectivists are enamored more of the centralized power in and of itself than any benefits it might produce.
Could all of that – Institution of a Collectivist State with an appended gulag system – ever happen here? Eight years ago, I’d have said absolutely not. But the Progressives have had control of much societal high ground – the Academy, the Media, Hollywood and the Bureaucracy – for some time now and with their capture of the Executive I think they’ve had a very hard try at establishing the foundation for one. A lot of people simply don’t notice because they’re happy with their Starbucks and Kardashians. In the end, however, because of elements of our national nature and condition too complicated to go into here, I still don’t think the collectivists are going to succeed, but as the Iron Dook said, it’ll be a damned near-run thing.
*Abridged by permission and in cooperation with the author. The full version of Gulag is divided into three volumes and it was noticed that although sales of the first one continued very strong, sales of the second and third tailed off, suggesting people weren’t being exposed to them at the same rate. This was a bad thing, since many of A.S.’s most powerful statements about the dignity of the individual and the power of the human (and Divine) spirit come in the last volume. So the thing was cut back somewhat and presented in one volume. Having read it, I think I need to go back and get the full three-volume monty.
**Hayek is not the laissez-faire libertarian his critics paint him to be, however. He never said there is no situation where state planning is important. That’s just a straw man. What he said was that the market and other private arrangements should have pride of place and that the state should only step in when these didn’t work. (Thus, prevention of monopolies or oligarchies, for example.) He also warned against the corrosive effect of a general welfare state. You need not read far into the headlines to see the wisdom of that warning.
Yesterday afternoon, as we sat in traffic together, the Eldest Gel started contemplating the Fort McHenry commemorative license plate on the car from Murrland in front of us.
“Why doesn’t D.C. have a War of 1812 license plate?” she suddenly asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “What would they put on it? A burning White House?”
“Sure, why not?”
Sat out on the porch this evening to watch the lightning flicker around the northern horizon and to listen to the frogs. I hadn’t been there more than a few moments when I spotted my first couple fireflies of the season noodling about against the tree line. It’ll be another week or two before they’re going all out, but as I say, shiny!
O’ Robbo loves fireflies, especially when associated with summah lightning. Indeed, one of my fondest memories is of an evening back in the summah of 1989. It was after my first year of law school and I was working on the Hill and staying with my godparents outside of Fredericksburg, Virginny. Now, Fred-Vegas (as we insiders call it) gets hammered something fierce by thunderstorms during the warmer months, and is particularly susceptible to lightning ground-strikes. Somebody once told me this has something to do with the high iron content of the soil in the immediate area. I don’t know if I believe this, but I do know from years of observation that they catch it pretty hard there.
Anyhoo, one evening in this summah of ’89, we had a typical Fred-Vegas pounding – 45 minutes or so of the Apocalypse followed by a sudden hush as the storm rolled east. For some reason, I had to go outside just after it had passed. The air was still very warm and soggy, there was an absolute hush all around, lightning still flickered in the distance….and the hedge that bordered the back driveway was absolutely covered in fireflies. I’m talking Christmas tree light concentration.
I just stood there for a few moments, taking it all in. In my fancy, I almost thought I could hear a faint pah! pah! as the fireflies did their stuff.