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Happy Thanksgiving

Even in the midst of the charlie foxtrot that 2020 has been thus far, most of us have things for which to be thankful. May I suggest that if you know those whose circumstances make it difficult to be thankful, that you reach out to them? Don’t let them be and feel alone and deserted. Be a person for whom they can be thankful. And don’t forget to enjoy your holiday with the enthusiasm of Snoopy!

Underpinnings

In the US, we have created a society/nation/culture of previously unknown wealth and abundance. Yes, it is true that there are those, here in our country, who lack basic necessities. Yes, it is true that there are those for whom the American Dream is both unrealized and unrealizable. Overall, though, that wealth and abundance is very real. There’s a problem with that.

For multiple generations, each American generation enjoyed a better material existence, a higher standard of living than the generation preceding it. One of the results of this, I submit, is the belief that this wealth and abundance is the norm, that it’s just how life is. Further, the belief is that wealth and abundance are so much “just how life is,” that major changes can be made to the underlying philosophies, structures and institutions which made all that possible, without endangering or even destroying what far too many see as “just how life is.”

One of the underpinnings that allowed us to get where we are is the emphasis on individual liberty. That some were unjustly denied that liberty the rest took for granted does not change what I believe to be a fact. We are where we are, largely in terms of good things, because there was a recognition of the importance of individual liberty.

Certainly, there are those who disagree, on both the right and left. Some on the right foolishly claim that capitalism brings freedom. As a country produces wealth, some will argue, freedom increases. That’s a cart and horse type error. Liberty, the freedom to associate, cooperate, trade and compete produces wealth. Widespread freedom is the driver for at widespread wealth, not vice-versa.

Some on the left argue for something far more destructive. Everything that smacks of wealth and success, we are told, exists only because others were exploited. Aside from not being true, such a view is incredibly elitist/classist/racist/sexist (select the “ist” or “ism” of your choice). Surely, we are effectively told, people can’t do, become and achieve more if they are free from governmental restraint (other than not being allowed to harm or violate the rights of another). People, especially whoever the current downtrodden of the day happen to be, aren’t able to compete unless artificially supported.

Of the two beliefs, the second is the worst because it seeks an answer in the destruction of individual liberty. Everything becomes subject to the secular apocalyptic view of history. That’s the view that the oppressed will continue to be oppressed until they finally, with the help of the woke of course, throw off the chains of their oppressors and rise up. This will usher in some sort of secular millennial dawn, as a new age of peace and perfect prosperity reigns in this new Utopia.

“A pox o’ both your houses!” ~Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet

More on memories

As a hypnotist, I have a lot of interest in memory, how it works, how plastic it is, how powerful it is and how certain things are equally powerful in bringing memories to mind. Aside from that rather detached hypnotist interest, I have a normal human interest in (and experience with) memory. For instance…

Some of my early childhood memories involve places that looked a lot like this:

Longleaf pine woods in North Carolina

I spent a lot of time with my dad, hunting squirrels in those pine woods. To this day, I can fire a shotgun, eject the empty shell, pick it up, bring it to my nose and sniff. Faster than I can blink, I’m five years old again and walking along behind and to the right of my dad while we hunt squirrels among the pine trees. I can see the pine straw on the ground and those tall, stately pine trees that seemed to almost touch the clouds. Sometimes, I can smell the fresh piney smell. And always, I can see his face and hear his voice.

Memories sometimes make our realizations stronger. Long ago, I realized that my dad was (and is) my hero and my model of what it means to be a father, a husband, a Christian and a man. Since those early years, I’ve hunted and fished in a lot of places. I’ve seen a lot of wild and beautiful country and had my own outdoor adventures. But here’s the deal. Almost five years ago, my hero died. And, with a nod to David Gates, who wrote a song about losing his dad, I would give everything I own just to walk along behind my father one more time. I miss you, papa.

Here’s the song David Gates wrote and recorded with Bread. Enjoy the song. I think I’m going to go smoke a pipe and drink just a little bourbon.

A favorite memory

Waaaaaay back in 1978/1979, my parents and I lived on a farm in the Appalachians of East Tennessee. If you’re familiar with the area where we lived (and you probably aren’t), you might recognize the location if I tell you the farm straddled the Hancock/Hawkins county line on TN 66 and that the house was on the outside of the curve. It was a great place to be a teenager who would rather be outside, walking the hills and “hollers,” than around people. My memories of living there are some of the happiest I have.

The seat of government for Hancock County was (and remains) in Sneedville, TN. It was about a 15 minute drive from our house via that same TN 66. We would occasionally eat at the cafe attached to an inn in town. A few things come to mind about that place. First, the food was really good. Second, it wasn’t fancy, but there was plenty of it. That sort of thing was important for an active teenage boy. Third, it was also inexpensive, which was important for the parents of said active teenager. The final thing I remember, and which struck me every time we’d go there, was the building itself. As I remember, it was build primarily of logs. The pier and beam construction consisted of large, rough-hewn beams that sat upon hand laid piers made of local stone. There probably hadn’t been a square corner in the place since before I was born. I had wanted to use the inn (and cafe) in a story, but could not for the life of me, remember its name. I didn’t want to make up a name and simply calling it “this restaurant I really liked” was woefully unsatisfying. Enter the folks from Hancock County government. Thanks to them I now know it was “The Green Top Inn.”

Anyway, thanks to someone taking the time to research and answer a simple question, I can now share with the Green Top Inn. First, there is this drawing. It wasn’t quite this new looking when I last saw it.

How it looked around the time I knew the place. This is the first picture I opened when I got a reply to my email question. It took my breath away. Strong, emotionally-laden memories are like that.

Sadly, the Green Top Inn has been torn down due to its poor state of repair, and has been replaced by a no doubt far more modern “convenience center.” I’m not sure that’s an improvement, other than the loss of risk to anyone in or near the old building, which is a good thing. It certainly stands as a testament to the truisms that time marches on and that the only constant in this life is change.

Was it true?

Is it still true? I find this article from the BBC to be rather bitterly ironic. Think what you will about the recent US election, the speed with which people change their minds about what is or is not true, seemingly based upon nothing more than whose ox is being gored, can induce a c-spine injury.

Additional thought. That “whose ox is being gored” thing seems to apply to what people initially believe to be true, as well. I had one person on FecesBook insist that Sarah Hoyt (also here and here) could not possibly write about the left the way she does as a result of having grown up in Portugal. Nope. Instead, this otherwise reasonable man insisted (I know he’s otherwise reasonable because our kids played soccer together and we’d talk for hours) that Hoyt is “fronting for QAnon.” He was serious. Oh, well. At least he didn’t insist she’s actually a Mormon Male. I guess that’s something, right?

Yum

Let’s start today with a happy. A few days ago, I made my Navy-vet-from-North Carolina-now-living-in-Texas version of cassoulet.

Who knew you could make such wonderfulness with chicken, sausage, cannellini (aka “white kidney”) beans, a few vegetables and seasonings, and chicken stock? Oh, and salt pork. In this case it was the French. It takes a while to cook, but it’s worth it.

It was an honor

to follow in the footsteps of those who served before. It was an honor, to serve alongside the finest men and women I have ever been privileged to know. It is heart-warming to see those who have come later continue the tradition of service with courage and honor.

With apologies to Van Halen

Don’t jump.

That means, don’t jump off the ledge (a point Sarah Hoyt makes very well) because you are so despondent about everything going on with the 2020 election. I agree (which, depending on your perspective, is not that big a deal, given that her blog has, like, a bizillion followers and mine has, uh, less). See, if we become truly despondent, even if we don’t jump from a literal ledge, we can become so convinced that it’s all hopeless that we give up. That’s destructive of liberty, which in my book qualifies as Not Good. Good, in this case, means to keep fighting for liberty. For the entirety of our lives. And to pass it on to our kids so they can do the same. Generation after generation. Forever. Because liberty, you see, is never secure. To grossly and incorrectly paraphrase One who was and is far smarter and wiser than I, “authoritarians and busybodies you will always have with you.” I happen to think the struggle is worth it, including “saddling” my descendants with the same struggle for and defense of liberty.

But wait, there’s more.

In all likelihood, you have encountered references to the effort to list* those who have in some way supported Donald Trump. We find references to not allowing such people to participate in “polite society.” And, of course, the idea that how you handle your disappointment re: the election could be of interest to your employer. Please. Every employer I’ve ever had was concerned with, above all, how well I did my job. I dislike threats, veiled or otherwise. This brings us to another kind of “don’t jump.” See, I’m a suspicious guy. If I were at all interested in discrediting those whose ideology was diametrically opposed to mine, and if reasoned discourse wasn’t working (and reasoned discourse from the Left is both rare and horribly ineffective because the Left’s logic is crap), I might try to get them to do a Bad Thing. To that end, I might say and do things which I could deny were ever intended as a threat (because I’m all about peace and tolerance, you know) but which arguably are a threat. Then, when those I hate decide both they and their country face a clear and immediate threat of destruction and decide to go for the preemptive strike, I can label them as reactionaries and radicals and watch cheerfully as the government does for me that which I could not do. So…

If you’re wondering if we need to do The Thing, my answer is “no,” for a number of reasons. First, I don’t think things are that bad. I mean, yes, they are bad, but not The Thing bad. Second, even if if comes to that, and I am not convinced it will, things like practical politics (which must include public perception) virtually demand that conservatives and libertarians not be the ones to kick it off, if we can at all avoid it (and I think we can and quite easily, actually, and without engaging in the same sort of intellectual dishonesty as the Left). Third, and I will harp on this again and again, stop with any sort of thought which suggests the outcome of The Thing is any sort of foregone conclusion. It’s not and only fools and manipulative ideologues will suggest otherwise. Fourth, and this is another part of practical politics, it is important to remember that The Thing is and would be illegal. Bad illegal. Wind up dead or spending the rest of your life in a hole someplace illegal. So stop being so damn eager to kick off something, especially is there is a reasonable suspicion (and I think there is but see “suspicious guy” above) that those who hate us are trying to manipulate at least some of us into doing a Bad Thing. So, don’t jump. Please. Because once you get into one of those, there’s no going back.

All that said, if you feel you must jump, go for the Van Halen version. I was going to link to it, but…I just can’t (meaning I can listen to the song as long as I don’t have to watch the video. Yeah, I’m old…er).

*FWIW, I don’t know that there is any reasonable set of criteria by which I could be said to have supported Donald Trump. That said, I despise the very idea of anything which approximates an “enemies list.” So, if my support of liberty bothers you that much, feel free to add me to any list(s) you like, you authoritarian s***head(s). I was too young to make Nixon’s list. I might as well go for this one.

And now, a musical interlude

I don’t care who you voted for, some things are funny all on their own. If you find this offensive, if you are a member-in-good-standing of the Church of the Eternally Woke, suck it up cupcake.

And now, I give you “Pallets full of Ballots.”

Please, let’s not do this

You can support whoever you want in the ongoing election drama. Regardless of who you want(ed) to be ultimately inaugurated, I offer the following observations.

  • In 2000, various media outlets called Al Gore the winner for, as I recall, 31 days. History bears no record of a “President Gore.” What does that mean? Simply this: While I don’t know which way things are going to go, the obese female has not yet started her aria. Tensions could remain high in the weeks leading up to not just the electoral college doing its thing, but even longer. How much pressure can a system tolerate before something has to give? I don’t know.
  • It is not, cannot, be good for a nation to have successive elections in which one-half or the other of the electorate believes they were defrauded or disenfranchised.
    • No one knows how long this can go on in a given nation before widespread violent fragmentation occurs.
    • The things we’ve seen in some metro areas are nothing compared to what could happen.
  • It does not matter who started what we have now! Two kids spitting on each other on the playground devolves into “you started it” and “no, you did.” All their equally immature friends gather around to watch the action. It’s unfortunate and childish, then. When we’re talking about adults concerned with their future and that of their nation, it can be catastrophic.
  • If the bad thing happens, it will not matter who starts it! Regardless of your political leanings, if you think “your side” is guaranteed to win and to do so quickly and painlessly, you are an idiot. More than that, if we as a nation don’t find a way to back away from the precipice, you are a dangerous idiot.

So, please, no matter who you support, try to find a way to contribute to something other than either side becoming convinced violence is the only option. You don’t want that. I don’t want that. No one in their right mind wants that. Let’s not do this.