One man’s floating life on the waterways of England.
Archive for the ‘Mind and Spirit’ Category
“The Haunted Beach.” (pdf, about 4,600 words)
I submitted this to a short-story contest/anthology a few months ago. It was rejected. Maybe because it was no good. Or maybe because the theme of the anthology was “optimism.”
The rules said submissions could have dark elements but needed to be optimistic overall. I thought this story just bubbled with optimism (after said “dark elements”). But you can probably see why contest judges might disagree.
And some cool custom knives (below)
My ankle was feeling good enough this morning that the boot was actually more of a nuisance than the break.
Got Ava back from Furrydoc’s kennels. ‘Bout the second thing she did was body-slam herself right into that leg.
How did I end up with such a lunatic dog? She was amusing when she was a year or two or five years old. But she turns 10 this fall. Why can’t she just sleep a lot like a good senior dog?
MJR, who sent this article decrying the current trend in “loud manliness,” said he was sorry it wasn’t more inclusive of women.
Actually, I think it’s perhaps more inclusive of us than we need it to be. Enough — and often too much — has been said about the rights, privileges, strengths, and demands of women. We’re equal now, and frequently ahead, in vast fields of endeavor. What’s left to achieve is detail. Yet now we’re innundated with ignoble, attention-seeking whines about how women are all victims of a mythical, male-blighted “rape culture.” Faugh! I’m embarrassed for the decent people of my sex.
I’m much more concerned with what’s being done to boys in increasingly female-dominated institutions. And how men of the future will manage to remain strong, vital, useful, self-respecting men. I’m horrified that boys and young men are being subjected to such toxic views of who and what they are. This toxic reversal is worse for male well-being than the stupid “sugar-and-spice, behave like a lady, submit, and be sure to be lousy at math” line was for us girls who grew up in the not-so-distant dark ages.
I don’t agree with the author of the linked article that manhood was easy and automatic in the past. I recall how often men had to struggle or even fake some faux ideal of manhood. And hey, it was guys who got drafted, guys who got stuck with a ton of dirty work. Manhood has never been easy. But I surely do agree that real manhood — and real womanhood for that matter — essentially consists of girding the loins and getting on with life.
Ahem. Now go check out the cool custom Kershaw knives just arrived in the TZP store. These are Ken Onion-designed spring-assist folders and sharp tools in every sense of the word.
- The Boy Scouts: doing their best to close the gender gap. (Yeah, don’t ask me how that became their mission.) By Eagle Scout Jim Bovard.
- And don’t even get my friendly local Scout leaders started on the Michelle Obama-inspired (recently) new requirements for the cooking badge. Where’d the fun go? Any kid who had to learn cooking that way would probably avoid the kitchen for the rest of his life.
- You want to be treated with dignity? Behave with dignity. (Via ML who, like me, doesn’t agree with all Ringer’s points but thinks the overall piece is spot on.)
- Six months later, they still haven’t been able even to question the cop who slaughtered Tamir Rice.
- Religion of peace. C’mon, moderate Muslims. Step up, please.
- The loathsome Section 215 of the USA-UnPatriot Act is set to expire next month. (I love sunset provisions.) Congress actually seems to be in a reform mode — well, a reform-ish mode — about the surveillance state. Courts, too. But I’m picturing the heads of the Uber-Government (in the No Such Agency and other places) cackling wickedly and rubbing their bony hands together over their Black Mamba capes. Laws? Regulations? Courts? Constitutions? Bwaaahahaha! The little fools! Don’t they know they can’t stop us?
- How to take over a small country. (The kind of humor that really isn’t funny.)
I’ve been reading the “debate” between Young Turk Christopher Cantwell and older hand Jeffrey A. Tucker. I put debate in quotation marks because I’m not sure Tucker knows he’s being debated.
Cantwell’s “5 Habits of Highly Effective Radicals” …
… angrily answers Tucker’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective Libertarians.”
For a couple of days, I’ve been thinking about making a response of my own, particularly to some of Cantwell’s points. There is so much to say!
But I’m not going to say it.
So I’m with Tucker, who talks about sustainability, while I also admire Cantwell’s fire and intransigence. Philosophically, I don’t think the two are as far apart as Cantwell perceives himself as being from Tucker — though attitudinally Cantwell is way, way out there. That is, out in the territory where he offends and perhaps scares even fellow anarchists.
If I were to sit down to a drink with one or the other of them, I’d choose Tucker. But I expect Cantwell’s the more entertaining YouTuber.
But OMG, the anger. Cantwell is not only angry; he promotes rage as a vital tool in an activist’s arsenal. He’s not only uncompromising; he’s intolerant of making common cause with allies who may not be fully philosophically on board. He not only advocates being rigorously well-informed; but he wants us all to have answers for every argument.
Just reading his words wears me out. While thinking about how to respond, I realized I already made my answer — nine years ago in those columns linked above. So no, I’m not going to essay an answer or answer him with an essay now. Commentariat, feel free to have at it.
I’ll just note that such fury and fierce focus as Cantwell advocates isn’t sustainable. Being driven by rage is not living. Certainly it’s not living free. Except for the rare individual who thrives on conflict (which Cantwell seems to be), that way lies burnout.
And as the angry activist goes up in flames, a lot of potential friends get singed.
I’m deadlining. Um … s’posed to be. I’ve actually been in that blank, dull state that’s 100x worse than the next-worst part of writing.
I just got over it a few minutes ago and though I might push my deadline by a few days (hate that, but it’s a monthly magazine and I suspect they may not even look at submissions for a week or two), I’m now breathing a different, clearer air.
I hear there are scribblers, quite a few of them multi-millionaires, who don’t suffer writer’s block. I hate them all. Hate them indiscriminately, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, or place of national origin. Hate them with malice aforethought and extreme prejudice.
Writer’s block at its worst isn’t just, “Hm. I have no idea what to write this month.” It’s, “OMG, what if I’ve lost all my talent? What if I’m never able to write another readable word? How will I live? I’ll die! I’ll die obscure and starving and probably not be found for weeks and by then the dogs will have …”
That’s what I just got over.
And the weird thing (I know I’ve said this before, but I always shake my head at it) is that, until some sudden moment, it’s like that. For days. Sometimes for weeks. Not one sign of progress, nary an idea, not even a tiny move toward the goal of actually writing something with which I can put kibble in the dog bowls. Then … poof!
There’s always this “never, ever” quality to the blank time. Even though I’ve been there before and gotten past it, it feels — every time — as if this is THE END. (“Yeah, but what if this is the one time that …?”)
During Nevertime, I can write other things — things I don’t have to write. I can dust knicknacks, hang wallpaper (this weekend’s project), and be a general wiz at life. I just can’t do that one thing. And as Nevertime goes on, there’s not one sign I’ll ever be able to do what I have to do. I think of resigning the gig. Of quitting the business. Of eating out of Dumpsters.
Then between a step with my right foot and a step with my left, the idea is there, along with words to open the article (one of the two hardest parts of the actual putting words on pixels).
Before this there may be an hour or so that feels a little different. A desperation that leads to action (grab a notepad, gird my resolve, have a glass of wine, make a list), then a recklessness. (“I’m doomed, anyway, might as well see if I can come up with something, even if it’s dumb.”) I expect all that amounts to a new openness, though it just feels like a way to calm panic.
And once I can give myself that state of mind, that’s when it happens.
Another weirdness (yet another common weirdness, too): The idea that eventually arrives is often not even close to anything I might have considered. Not even something I thought about thinking about writing about.
It’s just … there.
No wonder Greeks had Athena — the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, strength, the arts, crafts, and skill, among other things — born full-grown from the brain of Zeus.
Now excuse me, I gotta go finish writing my article. It’s a breeze, I tell you. Once the flow gets going, it’s like … “Pain, what pain? Difficult? But anybody could do this …”
For some time I’ve been mean to university students who feel entitled to a “safe space” — by which they seem to mean a space where they are insulated from ideas they don’t like.
I call these young people out for valuing illusory and subjective safety over liberty. I accuse them of accepting that speech is “harmful” without logic or proof. I mock them for not grasping that universities are supposed to be places of open inquiry. I condemn them for not being critical about the difference between nasty speech and nasty actions, and for thinking they have a right not to be offended. I belittle them for abandoning fundamental American values.
But recently a question occurred to me: where, exactly, do I think these young people should have learned the values that I expect them to uphold?
More at the link.
- Immune-system drug combo “melts” tumors. Yeah, I know there are always reports like this that eventually come to nothing. But this is pretty dramatic.
- Are you nuts, Mr. Cop??? Officer shoots (at) dog in a crowd. Fortunately misses. Dog just looked as if it was being rambunctiously friendly, too. (Here’s the video if you can’t see it on that page.)
- If you’re going to have anti-abortion laws, you’re going to have to be prepared not only to prosecute every doctor, nurse, and med-tech for murder, but to investigate every miscarriage as a potential homicide. Some countries do. Results aren’t pretty. (Via Rational Review News)
- Hm. Study seems a bit sketchy. But the result is believable: the sweat of happy people can induce happiness.
- Today is 4/20 — cannabis day. Colorado held its official celebration over the weekend. Police remind cannabis consumers not to get too cocky. Oh well.
- But I love this. The maker of Miracle-Gro, who has long seen his product in the background of pot-bust videos, knows a good opportunity when he sees one. (Last three links all H/T jed.)
- Matt Walsh to burger flippers: You don’t deserve $15/hour — and that’s okay.
Where were you on April 19?
On April 19, 1993 I was on a long drive toward a client’s headquarters when I heard the Branch Davidians were burning. For some reason I hadn’t taken the siege very seriously to that point (even though I’d taken the earlier Weaver siege as seriously as I’d ever taken anything in my life). Just a bunch of Jim Jonesy cultists, I thought. I figured the FBI would wait them out until Koresh got done with his preposterous “seven seals” manuscript, then peaceably arrest and later release most of them. Cause you know, why would the FBI want to do more harm now than they and the ATF had already done? Silly me.
On April 19, 1995 I don’t recall where I was physically. I just recall wondering how anybody could attack ATF and FBI offices and manage only to kill innocents, including babies and toddlers. Oh, why did it have to be babies and toddlers? I recall thinking, “Oh sh*t, everything gets a lot worse from here.” (Rince and repeat 6-1/2 years later.)
So where were you? Physically, mentally, politically, and otherwise during those two cruelest months?
On this April 19, I’ll be out in the sunshine, sweating as I move leftover materials from last year’s house projects to better, more long-term places. On this April 19, I’m two days past having rid myself of those three heavy boxes that were my last tangible connection to the Weaver tragedy.
The intangible connections are harder to shake. Impossible, actually. But sunshine, sweat, and decluttering help. In the end, there’s nothing to do but go on living.
And for some reason this all reminds me of that other T.S. Eliot poem, “The Hollow Men.” Don’t read unless you’re up for a downer. Complete with scholarly annotations. It was a favorite of mine when I was young and bleak. Now I’m old and much happier, but some things truly don’t change.
- “Oh crap! More ammo for the ‘ban body armor’ people.” Something on the lighter side from Y.B. ben Avraham.
- And exactly who here terrorized and abused those free-range kids?
- Just another example of why people are fleeing the biggest nanny states.
- Schadenfreude is so very ignoble. Still, it’s a delightful thing to see some of the greatest supporters of Obamacare getting skewered by it.
- This is one of those things you might have intuitively perceived but never quite believed: we recall better (especially recall concepts better) when we write notes by hand rather than type on a keyboard.
- Those “racketeering” teachers and administrators really got what was coming to them. No wrist slaps here.
- Wow, looks like those girls got a two-for-one when it came to being assaulted by authority figures. (Via Codrea)
- Okay, back to the lighter side. The 13 cuddliest dog breeds. (H/T PT)
- Seems cops and the U.S. Justice (sic) Department will go to amazing lengths to hide their newest tracking methods from us.
- A must-read for philosophical Libertopians: “Welcome to the Arena in the Clouds” by Max Borders.
- Guerrilla civic improvement. (H/T AG)
- It takes 13,000 words for the Columbia Journalism Review to say it and those words are thoughtful and worth reading. But bottom line: in their zeal to confirm an agenda, Rolling Stone’s staffers chose to mistake the behavior of a manipulative liar for the behavior of a poor, traumatized victim. (To their credit, RS and writer Sabrina Erdely cooperated fully in the exposure of their own screwups.)
- The poor, discredited brontosaurus is back.
- And here’s your feelgood story for the day: young wife refuses to pull the plug on her brain-injured young husband. And he eventually walks out of rehab on his own two feet.
The other day I posted at TZP about the dangers of mainstreaming bigotry and the folly of modern leftists thinking that their bigotry is somehow superior to the bigotry of others.
I was stunned when about half the reader response implied that I was opposing freedom of association.
Thanks to a comment by PB, I went back and realized I’d written this phrase in the final paragraph of the article: “discrimination is wrong.”
That’s simply a dumb statement. Discrimination is not wrong, certainly not categorically wrong. It’s obviously something people do every day and something a free society would just cope with, no need for laws and regulations about it. Discrimination is wrong only when governments or government-sponsored enterprises practice it; but then that’s not news, since most everything governments do is wrong.
I now kick myself for those three hastily chosen, dead wrong, words.
I remain chagrined that three careless words obliterated everything else I was trying to say and thought I had said. But that is simply the Way of the ‘Net. I know that. It was my fault and I walked into it with eyes that should have been wide open.