The Good Teenager

Standing tall among my boyhood memories is the image of the good teenager on our street, a young man named Peter. Tall, handsome, he had a brilliant smile and he wasn’t stingy with it. My mother and father, and the other mothers and fathers on the street, thought very highly of him; and all the younger kids looked up to him. He was the kind of teen whom it was very easy to imagine with a sword and a plumed hat, always ready to defend the weak.

I don’t know how Peter did it; indeed, he wasn’t actually doing anything: just being himself. There was nothing phony or contrived about him. And he was interesting. He used to do things that nobody else did: like sitting down at one of the picnic benches, in the playground at the end of our street, with a bucket of boiled crabs. These he freely shared with those few of us who were brave enough to eat something that looked so strange.

I learned to play chess from the kids next door, and when they weren’t around, sometimes I would take my chess set to the playground, set it up on a picnic table, and play imaginary games.

One day Peter, twice my size, came along and offered to play with me. He won, of course, but I hardly noticed. I was playing chess with Peter! It made me feel like a million dollars. He gave me some pointers that helped me play better, and from then on he and I would play once a week or so. I never lost that feeling of having been let in on something special.

When Peter came of age, he joined the Air Force. My family moved to another neighborhood, so I never saw him again.

I have no idea where he might be now; but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that he was now a king in Narnia.


My Favorite Prehistoric Critter

I couldn’t find a picture to go with my post today, so I thought you might enjoy this one. It’s Baluchitherium (they’ve changed the name a couple of times, but I haven’t changed with them). Largest land mammal ever.

Someday I hope the Lord will show me one.


Not Only Dumb, but Evil

In describing some of the Young Readers fiction I’ve been reading lately, I’ve concentrated on its penchant for literary malpractice. The writers and editors seem to be purposely trying to stunt the readers’ mental growth.

But they’re also throwing poison darts at moral growth.

It’s not just that they have characters inhabiting exotic, imaginary worlds talk like not-very-bright middle school kids who watch too many cartoons. It goes way beyond that.

Granted, if you want to write about the daring adventures of a character who’s 12 years old, you’ll have to find a way to get him out from under the direct supervision of his parents. No parent in his right mind consents to his child being involved in life-threatening adventures.

But in these books–again we resort to Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series by Scholastic Books–adults are not just inconvenient. They’re selfish and cruel, and a menace to their own children. So the juvenile dragons, because every adult dragon’s hand is raised against them, can only look to their age-group peers for love and loyalty. “Don’t trust anyone over 30″ has metastasized into “don’t trust anyone over 13.” Even their own parents are perfectly happy to sell them for a cow or two, and the daughters of dragon queens are expected to kill their mothers: it’s the only way a dragon tribe can get a new queen.

In Scholastic’s Spirit Animals series, assorted authors depict an 11-year-old girl using the inevitable jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks to beat up and sometimes even kill adult bad guys. The kids in these books are always coming to blows with adults. Again, grownups are basically bad and you just can’t trust them. Only the kids in your public school class will be true to you.

Gee, that ain’t the way I remember childhood.

These books are important because they are part of the Godless, Christless, hubris-laden pop culture that gets poured into our heads every day. Children are highly susceptible to it. This bilge helps shape a person’s character. It gets mixed into his foundation.

We need to start paying closer attention to what our culture is teaching us. Adults and children both.


Progressives and ‘Progress’

“Progressives” (they don’t like us to call them “liberals” anymore) like to say their very name denotes forward movement: progress. Yes, put them in power, and you get progress.

My home town has been governed by progs since Watergate, and our “progress” consists of losing resources that it would have been good for us to keep. Here is a short list of what my town has lost, under Democrat management.

2 supermarkets

2 hardware stores

1 rather large school, our middle school, which had just been expanded, which expansion was still being paid for when they shut it down

3 grocery stores

1 butcher shop

1 shoemaker

1 pet shop

2 variety/dollar stores

2 stationery stores

1 gift shop

1 pharmacy

1 clothing store

1 shoe store

These have been replaced by condos, bank branch offices, trendy restaurants that stay in business for a year or so and then go belly-up, nail salons, boarded-up storefronts, new office buildings with no tenants after a whole year or two of being made available, and big projects that never get as far as groundbreaking.

You know something? Everybody needs a hardware store from time to time, but nobody ever needs a trendy restaurant.

If this is your idea of progress, you gotta be a happy camper.


Dumb Culture, Dumb Schools, Dumb People

If you can’t keep up the culture, you can’t keep anything. You can’t have a republic of dummies. Know-nothings are not able to maintain a modern economy.

But Scholastic Books seems intent on applying the art of bonsai to the human mind. The bonsai artist creates little tiny trees. The cultural bonsai artist creates little tiny minds.

You know you’re getting there when adult crossword puzzles have to be taken off the market because nobody out there is able to do them.

I’ve been reading the first two books in Scholastic’s Wings of Fire series. These fantasy novels, pitched to Young Readers, are all about dragons. Dragons are, we would think, very different from human beings. But the dragons in these books say things like:

“Ew, that’s gross!” “Awwwwww, how cute!” “You guys.” A sadistic monster character is described as “mean.” And here’s an immortal line of dialogue from Book #2, The Lost Heir: “Would you like me to spell out ‘DRAGONETS WUZ HERE’ in giant rocks?”

WUZ? In all caps? Say it ain’t so. Any moment now, I’m going to wake up and find out none of this has happened, it was just a bad dream… Nope, the book’s still there in front of me. Still packed to the brim with stupid, cliche-choked dialogue guaranteed to keep a child’s mind perpetually locked into its 11th year, unable to grow, unable to develop. A mind subjected to the art of cultural bonsai.

And it goes on for as long as its victims live. The dumbing-down of this generation never stops. Whether it’s high schools handing out diplomas to students who can barely sign their own names, or colleges sucking up five or six years’ worth of tuition to give poor, debt-saddled “graduates” degrees in thumb-sucking, Star Wars Studies, Women’s Studies, or Licking Chalk off the Blackboard, our pop culture and our schools never stop binding the roots, pruning back the branches, stunting the trunk–to produce adults who think like 11-year-olds, support Obama, and can’t do crossword puzzles because they’re just too hard.

People who watch the Kardashians.

God help us. Deliver us. Save us.


Proof That America is Getting Dumber

One of the things we like to do around here, by way of relaxation, is crossword puzzles. We have subscribed to a certain crossword magazine, from a publisher whose various puzzle magazines we’ve been regularly buying for almost 40 years. The next issue seemed inordinately delayed, so today I phoned the publisher to ask about it.

Well, guess what? They’re wiping out practically their whole line of magazines, saving only those devoted to Sudoku and really easy crossword puzzles. Self-esteem crossword puzzles: “Three-letter word for domestic animal that goes ‘Meow’ and is not a dog or a goldfish.”

“We had to do it,” said the customer service rep. “No one is buying anything but easy puzzles and Sudoku. They just can’t do the harder puzzles.”

So that little avenue of pleasure is being sealed off. Neither of us is the least bit interested in Sudoku, and who wants to do a crossword puzzle that a five-year-old can do? And no more cryptograms for Patty.

This in the country that spends more on public education than anyone has dared to calculate.

The great thinkers who created and shaped public education in the 19th and early 20th centuries were not bashful about stating their long-range goal to train up an American populace that was tractable, ignorant, easily herded by their glorious leaders… and incapable of doing adult crossword puzzles.

Looks like they’ve succeeded.


Why Executive Amnesty is Morally Wrong

For the time being, a federal judge has put the kibosh on President *Batteries Not Included’s “executive amnesty” for millions of illegal aliens. But of course, once “progressives” have an evil work in hand, they never drop it. And the headlines are full of Republican surrender monkeys who seem to think the last election didn’t count.

Let us disregard, for the sake of argument, the probably irreparable harm that would be done by trying to digest, all at once, millions of unskilled poor people who come here from a foreign country and can’t speak English. Indeed, let’s go farther–even farther than Fat-head Jeb Bush, who thinks erasing our borders will somehow “lift our spirits.” Let’s say this wholesale amnesty will be altogether a blessing: guaranteed to get our economy moving again, re-invigorate a rotting culture, refresh our social institutions, and result in each and every one of us getting a highly-paid no-show job with a big fat pension that kicks in when we turn 35.

Executive amnesty would still be wrong.

Why? Because, as the president himself has remarked many times, during lucid intervals, the Constitution simply doesn’t give a president that kind of power. He cannot exercise such power without way overstepping his bounds. He can’t do it without violating the law and threatening the continued existence of our republican form of government.

Should the chief executive of a modern, civilized country also be its chief law-breaker?

And if Congress is willing to let a president function as a king, at the expense of its own Constitutional prerogatives and sphere of authority–well, then, what does that make them?

At the moment, it seems that all that stands between America and monarchy is a single federal judge.

That, and our prayers.


Did This Picture Come Out (I Hope)?

If you are not seeing a picture of a wooly mammoth, then I have lost my newly-acquired skill of posting pictures on this blog.

If you are seeing the picture, enjoy it! Try to imagine this fellow walking past your living room window while John Kerry is on TV babbling about Global Warming.


A Few Simple Truths

There are times when I just feel swamped–so much crazy stuff going on, I can’t decide what to write about. So how about a little selection of simple observations?

Just because everybody says it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s true. The “appeal to consensus” is an invalid argument. But it’s the main support beam for Evolution, Climate Change, what have you.

But of course if the majority opinion is that some liberal scheme is wrong and totally undesirable, consensus then becomes irrelevant.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker doesn’t have a college degree; therefore he isn’t qualified to be president. Maybe he ought to cram for a degree in Women’s Studies. Then he’d be qualified to be president.

Every utopian scheme–are you listening, Humanist Manifesto fans?–is doomed to run aground on the rocks of sheer impossibility. They promise things that no one can give, and eventually succeed only in arousing a revolution of rising expectations. You can’t string people along forever.

If President *Batteries Not Included really loves this country, he has a mighty strange way of showing it.

If our current crop of leaders truly is the best a nation of 300 million can do, God help us.


Author Interview with Lee Duigon

Originally posted on Xanoxixa Territory:

May I present to you all Lee Duigon!

1. What genre are your books?

They are a certain kind of fantasy in which I try to generate wonder without recourse to magic.

2. What draws you to this genre?

I’ve always loved myths, legends, tall tales, and fantasy. I guess I just never outgrew Sinbad stories. Also, I find fantasy gives me scope to tell the kind of story I want to tell. In fantasy, within limits, anything goes.

3. What project are you working on at the moment?

The Glass Bridge, Book #7 in my Bell Mountain series, was just published late in January, and in a few months we’ll get into editing Book #8, The Temple. Come spring, I hope to be ready to start writing the next book in the series. But for the time being, I’m just recharging my novel-writing batteries.

4. What’s it…

View original 1,362 more words


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