Summer Fundraiser 2016, Day Two
Stuff happens: Day Two of this fundraiser started out with the loss of our Internet connection. Yikes! However will we continue on with Dog Days sans the technology to tell you about them? Oh well…Gates of Vienna has lived through worse; I figured if the cutoff was protracted, the B could always put my essay on a thumb drive and gallop off to town with it.
We could call these whimsical outages karma, or — closer to reality — put them down to the drama of living in the Back of Beyond, the place where technology hangs on by its fingernails, and where we don’t bother firing up our cell phone. Why do so when you can’t get a steady signal for more than fifteen seconds or so? “Smart” or not, our cell phone only works when we pass through civilization — which was all we needed it for anyway. And thanks to our last fundraiser, we were able to get the thing and a pre-paid plan.
Yes, we have peace and quiet here, and yes, the B can walk around in his birthday suit should he so desire, but there are trade-offs for everything. The advantage of living in a place where land values are falling is never having to worry about a shopping mall springing up near you. Since the “value” of our home is strictly based on how much we like it (a great deal), and since we plan never to move, a drop in our already low tax rate is a boon. I never did buy the “value” of real estate. For me, a paid-up mortgage meant you never had to move. Moving is hell. Familiar surroundings are a balm.
An area without a whole lot of housing regulations or intrusive neighbors brings with it the drawbacks of living without any assurance that the mod cons everyone else takes for granted will be operative here on any given day. Then again, we have real peace of mind in some areas: the chance of our sidewalk being the target of a terrorist attack is close to the vanishing point, especially since the nearest sidewalk is fifteen miles away. That makes Schloss Bodissey a not “target rich” opportunity for the murderous barbarians being inflicted on the West.
Yes, I do think about the fact that our very existence could be a thorn in some Islamic hides, so you never can tell: they might decide to visit the black forests of Vienna here (nudge, nudge) and cause trouble. I did notice a few years back, when some new house insurance policy riders came in the mail at renewal time that we had something new: a “terrorism exclusion”. When I called to pay the bill my sort-of-casual, off-hand question to our agent about this here “terror thing” was met with laughter: “Yeah, ain’t that something? Who’s gonna blow us up? I swear, it’s a crazy world out there; guess the big boys calculating all the odds have to apply ’em across the board. You ’n’ me, though, we just have to worry about fire and y’all are covered for that, sure enough”.
Oh…that insurance premium payment? It came right out of our donations, but I didn’t tell him that. It’s not that I’d be concerned about his knowing; it’s more about how long it would take to make plain what it is we ‘do’ and why we think it’s vital. A sure way to not blend in is to tell your neighbors you make your living writing about Islam and terrorism and the problems Europe is facing. It’s much easier to call ourselves “editors”. That job description all by itself is a conversation-killer. Sometimes I say I’m a writer.
So other than what we do online, we don’t stand out. No fear of going to the grocery store or the dentist and being pointed at for being WAYCISTS. Traveling to the Republic of Charlottesville is another story. That’s a place where you remove your bumper stickers — if you have any.
That’s one reason the theme of “Dog Days” appeals to me: it bridges the chasm between what we do (and know) and the daily concerns of our neighbors, and what they do (and know). In the latter case, that’s quite a lot when it comes to making do or building it yourself, both being traits I deeply value. And when you come right down to it, we are all equal in our search for a cool spot in the shade and a glass of sweet tea on the table beside us.
For all of us, farmers and editors alike, this year has been a brutal summer. The dog days started early, right after the Fourth of July. Instead of a slow climb to the clammy heat of intemperate August, it slammed into our area almost a full month early. No, it’s not global warming; it feels just like the second summer we lived here, the one we spent at the river on those blazing afternoons. The river was no cooler than the ambient air, but the sounds and smells of the riverside could convince you it wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed. This time, we have the luxury of central air-conditioning so the heat is more like waiting for things to “temperate” (as a friend said recently) and less like enduring Hell.
Like many references in our culture (or what’s left of it) these Dog Days go back to the Greeks. It usually meant the period of sixty (or so) days beginning in early July and ending in early September, a period of heat that coincided with the noticeable dawn rising of Sirius. One particularly moving translation of The Iliad has it this way:
Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity…
Before we had central air, the Dog Days were a personal “evil portent”. My Celtic blood rebelled against the “suffering fevers” — often quite literally. The Baron, on the other hand, with whatever DNA he got from Magyars riding across the steppes and eventually into France, enjoyed — exulted, even — in whatever the summer heat could dish out. Days spent sitting under the sun’s glare while he painted landscapes endlessly were his joy. Of course, neither one of us had ever heard — or rather, had paid no attention to — the effects on delicate retinal tissue of prolonged sun exposure. The only effect we noticed was that his skin tanned so easily and deeply. He never “burned”, just turned a deeper bronze. This Irish woman, on the other hand, not only didn’t tan, she developed fever blisters from too much sun…only mad dogs and Englishmen would go out there, or would even want to do so.
Aside from the hellacious weather and covering events in Europe, we’re both engaged in the same thing many other Americans are: watching these last hundred days or so of the 2016 presidential “campaign”. It’s every bit as bad as the weather, only we’ll have to endure it longer. For sure, this has become a blood sport witnessed in silence. If you listened to conversations at church or tuned in to the casual gossip at the hairdressers, you’d never know there was an election looming. Hillary Who? Trump What?
Until quite recently, I’d even given up trying to find any online outlet that made sense, though I did read Diana West with some regularity. No surprises there; her ideas were much in line with my own. But aside from Diana, there was a vast ugly wilderness out there. The people I used to respect had turned dark and churlish — even more so than they’d been toward Diana’s exposure of the Communist infiltration of our government for many decades. I don’t have words to convey the soul sickness I was seeing. These people I’d thought to be principled were… raving. Frothing. They sounded just like…just like the Left.
Serendipitously, for whatever reason I can now no longer recall, Don Surber’s name flitted through my mind a week or so ago. Some background: in the early years of our blog, back when I was able to write more, we covered more American topics (that was my area of interest except for some early work on the treatment of women in Islam). During that period I was in the habit of reading Don Surber’s column regularly. At the time, he wrote for a newspaper in West Virginia, covering national topics from a conservative point of view. At some point he developed a great format: he’d find the most recent top ten or so headlines and label each one as “Good” or “Evil”. At the bottom he had a kind of moral calculus that allowed him to declare the day on one side or the other — i.e., there were either more “Good” stories than there were “Evil” ones or vice versa. The resulting score was a clever journalistic device; since he was a conservative, his moral assessments inevitably agreed with my own.
Wondering if he was still extant, I looked him up on Twitter. Don Surber: still there, still the same witty gravitas, and he’d written a book on the current political crisis.
He has retired (was fired?) from the Charleston West Virginia Daily Mail. [Yes, I did tend to confuse it with that Daily Mail in the U.K., but those were early days.] I don’t know what he did before he wrote his book, but now Surber mostly covers the commentary on his book at Amazon. Which makes me realize I’m going to have to go over there and edit the Baron’s review (our Amazon account is in his name but I’m their main customer).
This book is $3.00 on Kindle or any ebook format. He has paperback copies available on CreateSpace. Those are twenty dollars, out of my price range, but for those of you who don’t use Amazon or Kindle and have the money to spare, this is an excellent, in-depth survey of all the ways the conservative commentariat in the U.S. have gotten it wrong from the beginning about Donald Trump.
Thematically, this is a surprisingly well-written book. I say “surprisingly” because his research into each area is so thorough. I quit reading the people he quotes many months ago. Many of them I never went near in the first place because I could smell them downwind from here. The rottenness in Hamlet’s Denmark has nothing on the paid professionals in Washington and New York.
As happened with his “Good/Evil” news calculus, I found myself agreeing with all his summations. Without exception. As with me, his first choice was Scott Walker. When he faded, the vitriol against Trump stepped up by several notches. As Surber says, all Trump was saying — okay, bloviating — was
|1.||Build a wall.|
|2.||Political correctness is a spent scene. It needs to go.|
|3.||Make America great again.
I could do a post on each of those points. Trump is building a campaign on them. At this point, unless Hillary Clinton suddenly sprouts wings and the light of heavenly grace appears ’round her head, I fervently pray that Trump is elected. If he is not, the Republican Party is finished. Trump himself will sail on; he always does. But the GOP has been exposed for what it is. Meanwhile the ‘conservative’ commentariat who have so thoroughly exposed themselves as crass opportunists won’t be able to continue as before. Surber makes the point that National Review exists at all only because its backers have poured $25,000,000.00 into keeping it alive over the years. Will they continue to do so after this election? It remains to be seen, but for sure their readership will disappear.
From this point forward, we’ll be covering the U.S. election more frequently. I am convinced that if Hillary Clinton is elected the American “experiment” is finished. Her promised attacks on the First and Second Amendments, her ability to stack the court with extreme left-wing justices, and her proven incompetence in foreign affairs could well mean the beginning of a second Civil War in this country.
Meanwhile, since we still can, the Summer 2016 Fundraiser will soldier on, arms at the ready.
The first day’s generosity came in from:
Stateside: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Wyoming
Near Abroad: Canada
Far Abroad: Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Thailand, and the UK
Our donors from Canada sure showed up in force the first day! I guess they recognize full well the value of free speech.
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