Wednesday’s Survival Instincts Colloquium

Twain Heaven and Hell

After becoming a successful writer, Twain sunk money into a number of bad investments and eventually went bankrupt. One investing debacle, involving an automatic typesetting machine, cost him nearly $200,000 by some estimates, an enormous sum considering that in 1890 the majority of American families earned less than $1,200 per year. Conversely, when offered the chance to invest in a new invention, the telephone, Twain reportedly turned down its creator, Alexander Graham Bell. Twain himself invented a variety of products, including a self-pasting scrapbook, which sold well, and an elastic strap for pants, which didn’t.

In 1891, Twain closed up his 25-room Hartford home, where he had lived since 1874, and relocated with his family to Europe in order to live more cheaply (he also hoped the change of scenery would help his wife, who was in poor health). Nevertheless, in 1894, following the failure of the publishing company he had founded a decade earlier, Twain declared bankruptcy. The next year, he embarked on an around-the-world speaking tour in order to earn money to pay off his debts, which he was able to do within several years.

8 Things You May Not Know About Mark Twain

Tuesday New Pantry Open Comments

Here are pictures of my new pantry. I was going to attach video so you could see them “in action,” but it didn’t work.

When you look at the pictures, you’ll see what we call the “big cage” in the back. This was where I had my original shelves, which were about 40″ deep and I kept losing stuff in the back near the wall. I also had a set of ugly utility shelves that I’ve been using for most of what you see on cage #1 and #2. Those shelves were big and bulky and a bit of an eyesore. I also wanted to make it easier to clean my floor, and that led to my idea of hanging shelves…and it culminated in this pantry system.

After the installation of the cages, I had a problem with the frig door banging into the open cage on the end (#1). I needed a place to hang aprons and such, so I installed some cabinet knobs on the grating for cage #1. I had to play with the configuration of pieces to find a way to get the cabinet knobs to NOT fall through the grating. That was a challenge, since I don’t have ten foot arms and had to figger out a way of holding the screw/nut/washer combination in place until I could get the knobs on. Duck tape and one of those “big hand” forks used to lift our briskets and ribs was used for that. After I got that figured out, I hung my aprons and other “cushy” items there so the frig door is now protected. Now, most of what we need to access is up off the floor level, which is good for us older folks with back issues. I can see AND reach everything on my shelves (with stools for the top shelves), and when closed, these shelves take up very little room in the kitchen area. I’ve also been able to move some of my counter top items to the new real estate, which gives me more room for food prep.

You may notice that the upstairs railing is made of the same materials.

Tedtam's new fancy pantry

Tedtam’s new fancy pantry

Monday Open Comments

hangman noose with a dramatic background

222 and counting…

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — A former leader of a black student group pleaded guilty Monday to creating a false public alarm by tweeting anonymous threats against fellow black college students last fall.

State prosecutors will recommend that Kayla McKelvey be sentenced to 90 days in jail and that she pay restitution of about $82,000 to cover the costs of the police response and heightened security at Kean University after the threats.

According to prosecutors, the 25-year-old McKelvey tweeted threats from a campus library because she wanted more people to attend the November 17, 2015, rally on racial issues. She then returned to the rally to tell people about the threats.

One tweet addressed to campus police read: “@kupolice I will kill all the blacks tonight, tomorrow and any other day if they go to Kean University.”

The database contains 222 cases of false crimes reported across America. 

Friday in Tripoli Open Comments

Libya Battle of Derne

When Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as the third U.S. President in March of 1801, he was almost immediately asked for a tribute payment of $225,000 from Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha of Tripoli. After sixteen years of recommending against continued extortion payments, Jefferson now forcefully refused the demand. Two months later, on May 10, 1801, the Pasha declared war on the U.S., not through any formal written documents but in the customary Barbary manner of cutting down the flagstaff in front of the U.S. Consulate. This marks the beginning of the First Barbary War.

As a result, nearly every major ship in the U.S. Navy was sent to the western Mediterranean to combat the Barbary depredations. Although Congress never voted on a formal declaration of war, they did authorize the President to instruct the commanders of armed American vessels to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli “and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify.”

And in the end,

In the meantime, Eaton and his men had assaulted the main city fortress, and were initially thrown back. Grabbing a musket, Eaton then led the Marine contingent in an assault of the fortress walls. For his trouble, Eaton was wounded by a musket ball in his left wrist. Finally, after about an hour of fighting, Lt. O’Bannon led his men over the wall, driving the Barbary gunner from their artillery. The Tripolitans left in such haste that they left their cannon loaded and did not spike them to render them useless to the enemy. Soon afterwards, Lt. O’Bannon brought out a flag he had been carrying with him, and raised it over the battlements of the fortress.

Turning the liberated cannon on the Barbary defenders, Eaton, O’Bannon and friends shelled the city, driving the Tripolitans westward. The fleeing defenders then promptly ran into Karamanli’s men approaching from the west. Caught in a vice, the defenders promptly surrendered. After about two hours of savage fighting, the Battle of Derne was over.

The first battle flag of the United States of America was raised over foreign soil in victory on that day.

Get Ready For the Stupid – Wednesday Comments

Materialists vs Post-Materialists

I’m sure I shocked a lot of readers when I published the first profile and interview article about Camille Paglia years ago on Lone Star Times.  I wasn’t looking for shock value but truth from the Left and found it in the unlikeliest of places, a scholar of indeterminate, opportunistic sexuality with rapier wit and explosive intelligence.

Rod Dreher, who posted the above graph, quotes her here:

Which, of course, brings us, as all things do, to Camille Paglia, and this bit from her interview with Reason‘s Nick Gillespie:

Paglia: There [comes] a time when these fine gradations of gender identity—I’m a male trans doing this, etc.—this is a symbol of decadence, I’m sorry.Sexual Personae talks about this: That was in fact the inspiration for it, was that my overview of history and my noticing that in late phases, you all of a sudden get a proliferation of homosexuality, of sadomasochism, or gendered games, impersonations and masks, and so on. I think we’re in a really kind of late phase of culture.

reason: So that the proliferation of cultural identities, the proliferation of all sorts of possibilities is actually a sign that we’re…

Paglia: On the verge of collapse? Yes! Western culture is in decline. There’s absolutely no doubt about it, in my view, looking at the history of Egypt, of Babylon, of Byzantium, and so on. And so what’s happening is everyone’s so busy-busy-busy with themselves, with this narcissistic sense of who they are in terms of sexual orientation or gender, and this intense gender consciousness, woman consciousness at the same time, and meanwhile…

reason: Is that also racial or ethnic consciousness as well?

Paglia: Right now, to me, the real obsessions have to do with gender orientation. Although I think there’s been this flare-up [regarding race]. I voted for Obama, but I’ve been disappointed. I think we had hoped that he would inaugurate a period of racial harmony, and I think the situation has actually become even worse over recent years. It seems to be overt inflammatory actions by the administration to pit the races against each other, so I think there’s a lot of damage that needs to be healed.

But I think most of the problems as I perceive them in my students and so on, is that there’s this new obsession with where you are on this wide gender spectrum. That view of gender seems to me to be unrealistic because it’s so divorced from any biological referent. I do believe in biology, and I say in the first paragraph of Sexual Personae that sexuality is an intricate intersection of nature and culture. But what’s happened now is that the way the universities are teaching, it’s nothing but culture, and nothing’s from biology. It’s madness! It’s a form of madness, because women who want to marry and have children are going to have to encounter their own hormonal realities at a certain point.

reason: Do you see your personal liberation as having helped to grease the skids for decadence, for the collapse of Western civilization?

Paglia: I have, yes.

reason: Do you feel at all ambivalent about that?

Paglia: I’ve defined myself as a decadent. One of my first influences was Oscar Wilde. I stumbled on a little book called The Epigrams of Oscar Wildein a secondhand bookstore in Syracuse, New York, when I was like 14, and I was fascinated by his statements. So I am a Wildean, and he identifies himself as a kind of decadent in that period of aestheticism.

reason: And certainly he was toward the end of the great hegemony of England as a world power, at least in a cultural sense.

Paglia: Yes, that’s true too, the decline of an empire. Absolutely.


Monday Commentaries

Theodore Dalrymple

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple

His books, essays, and columns for The Spectator, The Times and the New Statesman, have been compared to Orwell in their observations of Britain. But the plight of Orwell’s working class, stricken by the Depression and the collapse of employment is moving and dignified in a way that Dalrymple’s post-welfare state underclass is definitely not. He shows a new Gin Lane, a Hogarthian horror show of self-destructive behaviour: drink- and drug-addled deadbeat parents, feral children, random violence and chosen idleness. Chaos and ignorance, encouraged by the welfare and education systems, and treated as both normal and unavoidable.

“I didn’t start out to write that. I was just describing what I saw. I probably made it less terrible,” he recalls as we sit down to lunch at the less fashionable end of Sydney’s Pitt Street. “But I saw almost straight away that raw want was not the explanation. It just hit me in the face.”

Theodore Dalrymple’s  23 Books

I think you can find most all of the other prolific writings of Dalrymple archived here.