Word Nerd Wednesday: Train Wreck

This installment doesn’t warrant much in the way of explanation or commentary, so here goes. We’re resorting to slang this week, so consider this fair warning.

Train Wreck: describes something that is so bad that you don’t want to keep watching or following but you just can’t look away from it.

For example: Last night’s presidential debate was a total train wreck.

It was actually three old men yelling at each other, but I think that about covers it…

Friday Fave: A Brief Political Detour

I don’t have a lot to say about the politics of the day. My latest book review probably reveals plenty, but I ran across a video from the insightful Jason Whitlock of Outkick, and I decided to share a snippet of it here. I will add a link to the entire video for those who may be interested.

However, in the interest of expediency, I am offering a small 2 minute portion that beautifully encapsulates my political stance in this contentious election year. It’s a great rebuttal to those people who insist that people of particular ethnicity (or sex or age or whatever) must belong to a particular school of thought.

 
I couldn’t have said it any better, honestly. You can find Mr. Whitlock’s full rebuttal to the WaPo hit piece on him and his colleague here.
 
Edited to add: Not sure why my embedded video didn’t show up in the post, and my IT guy is at work. So, you’ll just have to click the link. But I promise it’s worth the 1 minute, 20 seconds. It really is. He even mentions Booker T. Washington not once, but twice! Twice! In 80 seconds.

Blackout Reveals the Emperor’s Nakedness.

Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its second Escape from the Democrat Plantation, by Candace Owens. Published September 15, 2020. Hardcover, 320 pages.

I looked forward to reading this book for many reasons, but learning new information was not one of them. I “left the Democrat plantation” over two decades ago, when I was in my early twenties. I knew that there would be scant little here that I don’t already know. Candace Owens stands on the shoulders of giants, black intellectuals that I first encountered when she was but a tyke. Those giants are men like Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Walter E. Williams, and the esteemed Larry Elder.

Owens is important because she offers these perspectives in a simple, straightforward way to a new generation, yet without insulting its intelligence. The Emperor of Progressivism is naked, especially as it relates to delivering any kind of benefit to the black community, and she calls that out. For anyone willing to look past emotionalism and demagoguery, to look for evidence and at hard facts, this is obvious. Too many people aren’t willing to do that, and the black community is poorer for it, both literally and figuratively; culturally and economically.

Candace Owens is often ripped on for growing and changing from the girl who experienced a documented racial incident to a woman who figured out that leftism really doesn’t give a darn about black people. There are few black people who haven’t experienced racism at some point.

The fact that there are individual idiots among us is not breaking news, and it doesn’t mean we should have to pledge our blind, lifelong allegiance to a party that mostly pays lip service to fighting racism. Especially when a mere scratch of the surface clearly reveals that they are the true racists, using the black community as a vehicle for political power. But this is about the book, and I am digressing. This was one of my favorite quotes:

Prior to the abolishment of Jim Crow laws, black Americans had never been granted true freedom. Segregation made it so that we were still oppressed through various limitation. Blacks were not free to choose where to educate themselves, where to live, or even whom to socialize with. Unfortunately, however, LBJ continued his address by stating, “But freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying, ‘Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.'”

Here he is wrong. Dangerously wrong. Being freed was enough for black America. The year 1964 should have represented a new beginning, when we began assuming full responsibility over our own lives.

After outlining some of the things we should have felt free to do on the strength of our own competency and ability, Owens continues:

Against this reality the president who granted us our rights told us, in the same breath, that we needed help from white Americans to get ahead. Miraculously, just as soon as we were given personal responsibility, it was taken away. In the darkest of ironies, after 345 years of having our personal responsibility stripped from us by governing white society, we allowed that same society to take it right back. Their method for taking it had certainly changed. Rather than callously telling us that we couldn’t be responsible for ourselves, by outwardly barring and banning us from various institutions, this time, they began telling us we shouldn’t be responsible for ourselves because it was unimaginable that blacks would suddenly be expected to perform at their level.

This is spot on, and it’s glaringly obvious to anyone willing to look past the faux empathy and nauseating white guilt to see what has really been going on for the past 60 years. Spoiler alert: The Democrat party didn’t “switch”.  Love her or hate her, this is a smart young woman.

I liked the book, overall. There were a few points of opinion on which I disagreed with Owens, but the overall thrust of her book is well presented, and most importantly, well sourced. The final 19 of the 320 pages consist of notes so that the reader can check the quotes, stats, and historical information present for themselves.

I do think the book could have done well with a fairly ruthless editor. There were instances where the friendship of commas would have been valuable. There were a few minor literary faux pas, but the average reader would hardly notice them, and are not certified copy editors. Since the book is written for the average reader, these are perfectly forgivable. I only mention them because I recognize that some people who read this blog are the types who will notice minor verbiage issues and sentence structure. In the grand scheme however, these are insignificant.

The fact that we live in an age where distortions, half-truths, and outright lies are being used to manipulate black Americans to a regressive rather than a truly progressive future makes this book important for millennials and younger generations to read. It’s a prescription for black Americans, but I would argue that it is an enlightening book for all Americans. I can hardly believe we are having serious discussions about socialism and praising the virtues of forced segregation. Make no mistake: that is exactly what we are doing. The fact that black students and activists are forcing it doesn’t make it any less forced.

In short, I recommend this book. It breaks down and strips bare the truth of what we are being sold as black Americans, and Americans as a whole.

4 out of 5 stars.

Word Nerd Wednesday: Ignominy

This week’s word is ignominy, inspired by this quote:

In the town I was in, there were no such back-alleys in the literal sense, but morally there were. If you were like me, you’d know what that means. I loved vice, I loved the ignominy of vice. ~ Dimitri, The Brothers Karamazov

I am still crawling through The Brothers Karamazov, and loving it. The story is compelling and worthy of contemplation, so I am taking it slow. It’s taking longer than I’d like, but I have other responsibilities tugging at me, slowing me further. I  also feel obliged to read the books my children are assigned in their literature class. In other words, it’ll be a while before I finish The Brothers Karamazov.

I look forward to discussing it in great detail and from myriad perspectives. There is much to discuss here, beginning with the quote above, where Dimitri describes his uncontrollable thirst for vice, including his relishing the ignominy that accompanied it. I suppose we should define ignominy:

Ignominy:

1. disgrace; dishonor; public contempt.

2. shameful or dishonorable quality or conduct or an instance of this.

Upon first read this portion of Dimitri’s confession to his young, devout brother Aloysha, my reaction was shock at the pleasure Dimitri seemed to take in being a disgrace. He didn’t just accept ignominy; he loved it. He loved not only the moral morass in which he existed, he loved the infamy.

I wondered if there is such a thing anymore as ignominy; shameful or dishonorable conduct. I know we have shameful and dishonorable beliefs these days. But there is scant a man can do, and nothing a woman can do, that would rise to the level of ignominy.

Just one of those things I paused to think about.

 

A Most Southern Cookbook

This is post is inspired by the latest post from my favorite food blogger, a scrumptious breakfast sandwich she came up with after perusing this book:

I think this book has been on my bookshelf for about ten years, but it may be closer to fifteen. When I found it, I didn’t know that Edna Lewis was a legend in the southern culinary world. I haven’t purchased any of her other books, but it definitely on my to-do list.

Besides the fact that my roots are Georgian and Louisianan, the thing that most draws me to southern cooking is that it’s the closest thing to a uniquely American food tradition, in the way that jazz is a uniquely American art form.

Southern cooking was born of southern poverty, from people both black and white, who took using the scraps and raised it to a culinary art form. There are some southern dishes I simply won’t eat, such as chitterlings (pronounced “chit’lins” by Southerners) or blood sausage, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

That my children have embraced southern cooking pleases me. It’s not often that younger generations are interested in the traditions of the prior generations. Of course, over time, we’ve switched to healthier versions of the dishes we love. I don’t use shortening for just about anything, for example. Well, at least not until Thanksgiving and Christmas. Making a pie crust with what produces the flakiest crust once or twice a year isn’t gonna kill us, after all.

Edna Lewis’s dedication to wholesome ingredients and food made from scratch was a thing long before the clean eating movement was born. She was, as she was known, the grande dame of Southern cooking.

I don’t use cookbooks very often, but some books are worth keeping for the legacy they impart. The Gift of Southern Cooking is one of those books.

Word Nerd Wednesday/Quotable Literary Quote Double Play

We live in a world that is, by every observable measure, going insane.

It occurs to me with every obvious incongruity, shouted maniacally and accepted as gospel truth.

It occurs to me whenever I see banality celebrated as genius, vulgarity hailed as art, and beauty denigrated as bigotry.

I think of it when I hear pleas for virtue dismissed as weakness and acts of vice lauded as justice.

What manner of madness is this? Did I miss something important when I looked up from the grindstone of daily family life, where right and wrong, sane and insane meant something totally different than they appear to mean now?

So I decided to look up the word sanity; just to make sure I hadn’t missed one of Merriam-Webster’s famous updates:

Sanity: The quality or state of being sane. Especially soundness or health of mind.

So it does still mean what I thought it meant. Soundness or health of mind used to mean an observable congruence, coherence, and harmony in thinking and reasoning.

Most days, I think I’m pretty sane, but what my troglodyte parents taught me is no longer considered good sense. It made me think of a quote I once saw quoted,  but never knew where it came from. I did some clicking and learned that it is attributed to Kurt Vonnegut:

A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.~ from Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut

picture credit 

*I have never read Welcome to the Monkey House. If anyone has, feel free to weight in because it isn’t in my queue.

Shameless Plug

Thankfully, Hearth took the initiative here because I’m not motivated to advertise, but I’m very excited to unpack femininity from a truly traditional perspective.

Focusing on the 1950s template (from the right) or the 1960s revolutionary woman (from the right and left) has landed us in a ditch. Neither of these are what we see historically or what God intended.

Check out Historical Femininity!

Hands, Heart, Hearth

My friend Elspeth and I started a channel over on locals.com. Give us a look – this is a code for three months’ free access to being part of the community. When it deactivates, I have it set at $2/mo. HISTFEMTRIAL

https://historicalfemininity.locals.com/support/promo/HISTFEMTRIAL?_utm_source=fb

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Word Nerd Wednesday: Troglodyte

I’ve had occasion to consider this word, troglodyte, recently while watching the fast moving, ever evolving wave of current events unfolding in our country. It’s a different America than the one I grew up in, for certain. I really appreciate the the Internet, my phone (sometimes!), and all the other amenities of today that weren’t around when I grew up in the late 70s and 80s. There’s been some wonderful developments.

There have also been some not-so-great developments, even in the past 20 years, and I find myself longing not only for the simplicity of days gone by, but lamenting the loss of old-fashioned values that formed the way I viewed the world. In truth, many of those values were falling out of vogue even as my dad was teaching them to us. But I don’t think anyone could have anticipated how far away from sanity we would fall in such a short period of time. I am, to get to the point, what some would disparagingly refer to as a troglodyte:

Definition of troglodyte

1 : a member of any of various peoples (as in antiquity) who lived or were reputed to live chiefly in caves

2 : a person characterized by reclusive habits or outmoded or reactionary attitudes

It should be obvious, but the second definition is more relatable than the first, although neanderthal-ish could also be used to described those of us who believe that the thousands of years of accumulated human wisdom might have something to teach us today. And yes, I recognize that there has never been such a thing as “the good old days”. Even ostensibly idyllic eras such as the 1950s were rife with injustice and sin, but  our inability to drain the bathwater without aborting the baby (literally or figuratively) doesn’t speak very well of this era.

One area in which my troglodyte perspective comes rushing forward is, if you hadn’t noticed, the destruction of childhood as a time of innocence, learning, and growth. In particular, this spot by comedian Jeff Allen brings to mind how much common sense we learned simply by virtue of being allowed to play, fall, scrape knees or even break bones. It’s funny to me, while also a little poignant because I know how much today’s children miss out on because we supervise them to within an inch of their lives.

It’s clean as well as funny  five minutes, so you can watch it without worrying about what he might say:

The Politicization of Children’s Books

On the bookshelf of a local store

I was dismayed to see the above display in the book section of a local big box store. Why should children who are only beginning to read, or who can’t read at all, be subjected to these kinds of books?

I implore you parents, regardless of your political leanings, resist such books. Let’s allow children to be children, free from the politicization that threatens to encroach into every area of modern life. We’ve descended into an abyss so dark that even traditional venues of escape, such as sporting events, aren’t free of politics. Until quite recently, children were largely insulated. Of course, there have always been parents too ignorant or fanatical to leave their children at home while they protest, but they were a minority.

After my recent encounters with the Feminist Baby books, this children’s collection of election season literature shouldn’t have been a shock. Somehow, it still was. The usefulness of the books eluded me, and so I briefly lost sight that our culture has long abandoned usefulness right long with truth, beauty, goodness and innocence.

Books that children read, or that we read to them, should impart wonder, magic, loveliness, and wisdom. The beauty of a children’s book is that it can do all of these things in challenging yet non-threatening ways. Books invite children to see timeless truths through new, creative, imaginative lenses. Neverland, Narnia, Wonderland, and even Hogwarts are portals to faraway lands allowing children to dream and appreciate the power of stories.

Our climate has now become so toxic that even well-meaning parents, inundated with the so-called urgency of the moment, can lose their way, corrupting kids’ ability to be kids, unburdened by adult concerns . Let me offer some unsolicited advice.

  • Your three-your-old does not need to be implored to vote.
  • Our children don’t need to take a position on issues that don’t even understand.
  • Childhood is being assaulted daily without additional pressures added.
  • Contrary to foolish propaganda, children by definition are ill-equipped to offer substantive input on complex moral and cultural issues. To ask them to do so is tantamount to emotional abuse.

I hope that none of these ridiculous books sell many copies. There is so much more for children to discover from literature than the banality of modern politics. Here are a few reviews to much better childhood reading fare:

What’s your opinion on the increasing politicization of childhood being reflected in books for sale to children?

Poetry: Sir Orfeo

Sir Orfeo, as translated by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Our kids are studying Medieval literature this year. This necessarily means that my reading of The Brothers Karamazov, as well as other personal reading, will be interspersed with readings of Medieval inspired books and poetry.

Sir Orfeo is a poem believed to be originally penned around the 13th century. It is the lyrical, pleasant-reading story of King Orfeo. Orfeo is a happy king enjoying his life, his harp, and his fair wife, Heurodis. 

Sir Orfeo was a king of old,
in England lordship high did hold;
valour he had and hardihood,
a courteous king whose gifts were good.
His father from King Pluto came,
his mother from Juno, king of fame,
who once of old as gods were named
for mighty deeds they did and claimed.
Sir Orfeo, too, all things beyond
of harping’s sweet delight was fond,
and sure were all good harpers there
of him to earn them honour fair;
himself he loved to touch the harp
and pluck the strings with fingers sharp.
He played so well, beneath the sun
a better harper was there none;
no man hath in this world been born
who would not, hearing him, have sworn
that as before him Orfeo played
to joy of Paradise he had strayed
and sound of harpers heavenly,
such joy was there and melody.
This king abode in Tracience,
a city proud of stout defence;
for Winchester, ’tis certain, then
as Tracience was known to men.
There dwelt his queen in fairest bliss,
whom men called Lady Heurodis,
of ladies then the one most fair
who ever flesh and blood did wear;
in her did grace and goodness dwell,
but none her loveliness can tell

Not long after their introduction, Orfeo and Heurodis’ idyllic life is disrupted when she is kidnapped by the magic of the Faerie king and whisked away from her husband and home.It is, as I mentioned, Medieval literature. As such it is replete with all that the period entails; magic, darkness, and sufferings. 

What follows is 10 years of suffering and grief for Orfeo, who cannot bear to reign without his queen by his side. He wanders through the forests, aimlessly and bereft of hope until one day, he spots his beloved Heurodis. In addition to the suffering, Medieval literature also offers its readers romance, gallantry, and light. 

I don’t wish to give away any more spoilers, so you can read it here for free to discover what follows. It is far less linear than you might assume. There is much more to discover than have even begin to unpack here.

 It really is a beautiful piece of narrative poetry.