Ol’ Robbo’s eye was caught today by this article concerning the latest museum being run up on the National Mall.

I commute past this site every day and, frankly, my opinion has been that it started out as a bad idea and has only gotten worse.  Started out bad because it’s right on the edge of that part of the Mall right around the Washington Monument and at least partially blocks the view, gotten worse because the design of the new building itself is (is IMHO) butt-ugly.

I leave it to you friends of the decanter to decide whether all this is just a product of modern artistic sensibilities (or lack thereof) or else a deliberate poke in the eye.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This evening, teh Eldest Gel informed me that her latest English assignment is to read Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye.

Gel: What’s it about?

Self: No offense, but it’s all about a teenaged hipster-doofus whining over his disillusioning encounters with the so-called Real World, which he discovers to be largely fake.  Your classmates are going to love it.

Gel: Really?

Self: Yes, really.

Gel: But…. we go through this all the time ourselves and I hate it!  I  already know we’re self-absorbed and ignorant!  I already know that eventually I’ll grow up and get a better perspective!  I already know that Christianity says all these earthly things are irrelevant! Why would I want to read some guy’s self-absorbed ranting about it?

Self: Because that’s the assignment.

Gel: Yeah.  But what a loser.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the vast majority of those friends of the decanter who have had or cared for small children have spent numerous hours  reading to the little “blessings” at bed-time.  I know I have, starting out with “‘C’ is for Clown” and “There’s A Monster at the End of this Book” (I can do a kick-ass Grover voice) and working up through Seuss and the Berenstain Bears (gack!) to Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Narnia Chronicles.

Well, guess what?  Apparently, this makes you and me Haters.   Because Social Justice or something:

“Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?” asks a story on the ABC’s website.

“Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?”

The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC’s Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.

“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”

Let that one sink in for a few moments.  Go on, I’ll wait.  Imagine getting fined or thrown into the hoosegow for spending a cozy half hour reading “Madeline” to your daughter because it might give her a leg up in the world.

I mentioned the article to Mrs. Robbo this evening and she simply couldn’t believe it.  But this is yet another marker of where dying Western Civilisation stands at the moment, even if most of us are still too fat and happy to see it.  Granted, the piece comes from Australia and the “academic” involved is a Brit,  but I’ll bet you it wouldn’t take me long to find some Progressivista here in teh States nodding at the “wisdom” of such a proposal.

They’d say, of course, that it’s “for the children” and the promotion of “fairness”, but that, if I may say so, would be a God-damned lie.  The real motivation, as is always the case with statists, has nothing to do with empowerment or equal chances, and is instead the beating down of all individualism, self-improvement, personal responsibility, and reward for hard work and merit, and the replacement of a free association of autonomous citizens with an army of mindless drones slaves serving the collective.

Swift said parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.

“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.

Yeah, right.  By this reasoning, it could be argued that I also “unfairly disadvantage” other people’s children by staying faithful to my wife, working hard at my job, providing the gels with a roof over their heads, food, clothing, religious grounding, and the best education we can manage, and trying to instill in them the same set of values and skill sets that my parents hammered into me and which have allowed me to do these other things for them.

Maybe I ought to knock off all of that, too?

Gelonesi is absolutely right in one thing: “Devilish” is exactly the right word.  God help us all.

UPDATE: Fun fact for you that I have long cherished.  Baltimore, the city that has been so much in the nooz lately, poster child for 50 years of Big State gub’mint, is tagged routinely as having the highest illiteracy rate of any major U.S. city.  In the late 80’s, the then-mayor decided to adopt a new motto for the place – “Baltimore – the City that Reads”.  Did so with a completely straight face, too.  By the bye, that little campaign is now dead, Jim.

UPDATE DEUX:  In response to some of the comments, yes, a few years ago I would have thought this article to be Onion-bait.  Not now.  Instead, I believe the forces of darkness, like the King of the Nazgul before the crumpled defenses of Minas Tirith,  are launching a full frontal assault all along the line.

SpongeBob_(5)Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This evening found ol’ Robbo helping out teh youngest gel in her 7th grade science homework of filling out Punnett squares of genetic variations among the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom.  The questions involved issues of square versus round and pink versus yellow bodies, and whether Mrs. Crab had been stuck with the wrong baby in hospital because it had short eyes instead of the more genetically-probable long ones.

I dunno.

On the one hand, teh Gel definitely took a greater interest in the subject matter due to the way it was served up.  On the other, anything to do with Spongebob tends to send ol’ Robbo’s eyes twitching and his heart palpitating.  From what I’ve seen of the series, it’s pretty clever but it’s waaaaaay too frenetic for me.  Also, when I tried to give a brief bio of Gregor Mendel and a summation of his work, she said, “Oh, yeah, we learned about him. Whatevs…..”  Head, meet desk.

On a different note, assisting teh gel reminded me of my ill-thought college foray into the pre-med curriculum.  Sophomore year, I took both genetics and organic chem.  The genetics lab work concerned fruit flies, both red and white-eyed and (I think) full versus stubbled wings.  Somehow or other, ol’ Robbo absolutely fubar’d the lab.  Indeed, I have a vague recollection of looking at one or more of my samples and wondering what the hell is THAT?

Yes, it was ugly.  However, I recognize now that my failure was due to my own immaturity and that, were I presented the same premise now, I’d thoroughly enjoy it.  As they say, education is wasted on yoot.   Those of us who have been around the block a few times would make much more of it.

So long as it wasn’t laid out in Spongebob terms, that is.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday afternoon found ol’ Robbo taking a break from his yard work duties to run the Middle Gel and a friend into town.

It turns out that this weekend is the 2015 AVON 39 mile “”Walk to End Breast Cancer”, and part of our route ran parallel to a long string of marchers on the sidewalk.  Most of them had pink hats or ribbons or some such, but a fairly large number seem to have gone all out: tutus, bikinis, (pink) dyed hair, boots, lavish jewelry, etc.  I even saw one fellah inexplicably dressed in a dog costume.

Now this is going to sound churlish, but here it is:  The cause is, of course, perfectly worthy, but it strikes me that there is a line somewhere between supporting it and making a spectacle of oneself.   (I had the same reaction to that whole “Ice-water Challenge” thing.)  Money is money, true.  But considered as a spiritual matter, charity is displaced by vanity, and this is not a Good Thing.

And, I might point out, Somebody Else doesn’t approve either:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

– Matthew 6:1-4

It’s the age in which we live, unfortunately.

Oh, and one other thing.  When I become Emperor of the World, spandex tights will be worn by license only.   Yeesh!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy May Day!

An off Friday for ol’ Robbo and my one goal for the day is to plant some wisteria against the porch pillars to replace the jasmine that didn’t survive this winter’s global warming.  I’ve already got a hedge of the stuff along one side of the back fence, so it will all compliment nicely.

The great thing about wisteria is that, once established, it is virtually indestructible.  And apart from whacking it back every now and again to keep it from consuming all around it, it’s virtually maintenance-free.

The older I get, the more I like that combination.

UPDATE:  Done and done.  Meadow Farms was selling nice, big, three gallon container specimens with hearty root systems and good budding.  (Somebody told me long ago that one must never buy a wisteria unless one sees flowers on it.  Otherwise you might get stuck with a dud.)

Sigh…even as I went to pull out the jasmine, I still cherished a hope that it might just be pining for the fjords.  Nope.  It was, indeed, ex-jasmine.

Whelp, now that that job is over with, the garden is a solid mass of weeds and the lawn needs mowing again, but I’m not going to bother with those today.

UPDATE DEUX:  By the bye, when I said happy May Day, I meant the traditional holiday, not the rat-bastard Communist one.  As a matter of fact, today is also the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, established in the mid-50’s to emphasize the dignity associated with honest labor that the Church felt was lost under Marxist regimes.  The difference between it and the Commie May Day is that Christianity is first and last about the salvation of each and every individual soul.  Honest labor contributes to that salvation.  On the other hand,  to the Commies, the “worker” is nothing more than a faceless number, simply part of an overall politickal calculus, and utterly meaningless in and of himself.  Indeed, that whole “worker’s paradise” line was nothing more than bait designed to get the mob to do what the elites wanted.   (Spits.)

Just so we have that sorted out.

And they want their mayhem back.

Greetings,  my fellow port swillers!

God’s blood, what a mess!  Back in the day, the goddam hippies were fighting the Man.  These days, they are the Man.  And they’ve got a younger generation of dirt-bag, jackbooted social warrior snowflakes backing them up this time.  I just don’t see how all this goes on much longer.

If it was just a question of the Gods of the Copybook Headings taking these people out behind the woodshed and thrashing them, I’d be popping the popcorn.  However, it’s more than likely that I and mine get caught up in the fall, too.

Goddam hippies.

UPDATE:  Anyone here old enough to remember Eddie Chiles?  He used to do radio ads in the late 70’s in which a voice-over would ask “What are you mad about today, Eddie?”  Then Chiles would go into a twenty second rant about whatever: high taxes, economic malaise, social breakdown, the commies.  If I had the money, I’d do the same thing.  “What are you mad about today, Robbo?”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo settled down to listen to some musick this evening, only to discover that his 25+ year old set of Sony headphones have gone duff.  (Something within the right lobe has broken loose.  It’s not that I can’t hear from that side, but the component keeps sliding around.  Difficult to appreciate a Haydn Mass when it’s permeated by a set of chunks and bangs not contained in the original score.)

So….Any friends of the decanter have any recommendations re a new set of ‘phones?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It seems that the Gels’ latest “What a Dinosaur ol’ Dad Is” meme is to make fun of the fact that I still carry around a Motorola flip phone which I must have had, oh, at least eight or ten years now.

Until they started this line of ragging, ol’ Robbo hadn’t even known it was a thing, since I hardly ever use my phone.  In fact, the only reason I even have one at all is for use while commuting in case of emergency or change of itinerary sent out from Port Swiller HQ.  Truth be told, I don’t even know my own cell number.

In response to the question of why I don’t upgrade, I also note:

a) that I don’t want to turn into one of the legion of zombies I see walking about with their eyes locked on their iThingies, and

b) even if I wanted to, from what I understand of our Verizon plan, Mrs. R and the gels have been helping themselves to my upgrades all this time, so I have not even been given the opportunity.

Anyhoo, I bring all this up because I had a dream last night that I was supposed to pick up Jon “Horseface” Carry at the Denver airport but, because I didn’t have my phone on, I had missed the instructions.  Somehow, as I scrambled about trying to get ready and wondering why I had to fetch him, I could hear his voice muttering in the background about “incompetence” and “shoddy service” and “I can’t believe this”.  Yeah, John.  You should talk.

I then further discovered that not only was I late to pick up Kerry at the Denver airport, it was also Thanksgiving Day; I had a house full of family, all of them already sitting expectantly at the table; and that I hadn’t even turned on the oven yet.  I found myself feverishly looking at the instructions on the turkey wrapping, trying to find out the correct oven setting.  The only number I could find was 500°F, which, even in my dream, I knew was way too high for a bird.

Finally, I looked up at my guests and said, “Um, this is going to take a while.”

And then I woke up.

UPDATE: Apropos, I saw this somewhere the other day.  Pretty funny because true:




A glass of wine with those friends of the decanter who have an ear for good music!

Haydn ConcertiThe local classickal station’s CD pick of the week. this week is a collection of Papa Haydn’s keyboard sonatas and concerti.

From what I have heard the past couple days, I would heartily recommend to those friends of the decanter who are interested in such things that you pick up this particular CD.  (I know I will.) The performances by Anne-Marie McDermott at the ivories are crisp, yet witty and sensible, qualities of which ol’ Papa, I am sure,  would have approved most heartily, since they mirrored his own character.

Also, from a strictly selfish point of view, I play most of the solo keyboard pieces myself (on a strictly hack amateur sight-reader, nobody else within hearing distance basis, of course) and it’s nice to see them get some exposure.


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