Last week was a stormy one around here. In the Valley, my sister's kids had a six day weekend because three days of school were cancelled and today is a holiday. None of the kids protested. Outside: playing in the snow.
Inside: blanket forts & movie.
"A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder." -Susan Orlean
Celebrating another year of successfully avoiding watching the Academy Awards although, sadly, some descriptions are creeping into my twitter feed. From what I can gather, our betters once again lectured everyone on why we are sexist, racist homophobes who hate the poor and are destroying the planet. So far, the usual yawn-inducing predictable hypocritical crapfest but apparently they added a few new features this year, including actual quotes from the Communist Manifesto and a screed on why we are evil for...
... drinking milk! Dang, I didn't have that on my woke bingo card. Oh well, there's always next year. Unfortunately. “And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
"Were British democracy, parliamentary sovereignty, the common law, our traditional sense of fairness, our ability to run our own affairs in our own way to be subordinated to the demands of a remote European bureaucracy, resting on very different traditions? I had by now heard about as much of the European 'ideal' as I could take; I suspected that many others had too. In the name of this ideal, waste, corruption and abuse of power were reaching levels which no one who supported, as I had done, entry to the European Economic Community could have foreseen." -Margaret Thatcher
Congratulations to our British cousins on finally- finally- slipping the leash of the European Union, something which has taken far longer than I could have imagined when I celebrated the results of the Brexit referendum over three years ago. At that time, as someone who could not imagine having to obey laws passed by unelected bureaucrats from foreign countries, I was merely happy that the United Kingdom was breaking free of such a body. Really, it's bad enough having to abide by laws passed by the democratically elected creeps in power... just look at what we're dealing with in Canada: a "woke" prime minister who has European Union envy. Now however, after having watched the weaselly British establishment do everything in their power to subvert the results of the referendum, I am elated that the country as a whole handed that bunch their walking papers in the December election. Well done and best wishes for an independent future.
A friend of mine moved to Newfoundland in the fall to attend school. She's been sharing pictures of the snowstorm they got walloped by the other day. Here's her car:
Her apartment door, now doubling as a refrigerator:
It reminds me of this section of Laura Ingalls Wilder's 1940 book The Long Winter, written about the brutal winter of 1880-81:
One still morning, Laura came downstairs to find Ma looking surprised and Pa laughing. "Go look out the back door!" he told Laura. She ran through the lean-to and opened the back door. There was a rough, low tunnel going into shadows in gray-white snow. Its walls and its floor were snow and its snow roof solidly filled the top of the doorway. "I had to gopher my way to the stable this morning," Pa explained. "But what did you do with the snow?" Laura asked. "Oh, I made the tunnel as low as I could get through. I dug the snow out and pushed it back of me and up through a hole that I blocked with the last of it. There's nothing like snow for keeping out wind!" Pa rejoiced. "As long as that snowbank stands, I can do my chores in comfort." "How deep is the snow?" Ma wanted to know. "I can't say. It's piled up considerably deeper than the lean-to roof," Pa answered. "You don't mean to say this house is buried in snow!" Ma exclaimed. "A good thing if it is," Pa replied. "You notice the kitchen is warmer than it has been this winter?" Laura ran upstairs. She scratched a peephole on the window and put her eyes to it. She could hardly believe them. Main Street was level with her eyes. Across the glittering snow she could see the blank, square top of Harthorn's false front sticking up like a short piece of solid board fence. She heard a gay shout and then she saw horses' hoofs trotting rapidly before her eyes. Eight gray hoofs, with slender brown ankles swiftly bending and straightening, passed quickly by, and then a long sled with two pairs of boots standing on it. She crouched down, to look upward through the peephole, but the sled was gone. She saw only the sky sharp with sunlight that stabbed her eyes. She ran down to the warm kitchen to tell what she had seen. "The Wilder boys," Pa said. "They're hauling hay." "How do you know, P a ? " Laura asked him. "I only saw the horses' feet, and boots." "There's no one in town but those two, and me, that dares go out of town," said Pa. "Folks are afraid a blizzard'll come up. Those Wilder boys are hauling in all their slough hay from Big Slough and selling it for three dollars a load to burn." "Three dollars!" Ma exclaimed. "Yes, and fair enough for the risk they take. They're making a good thing out of it. Wish I could. But they've got coal to burn. I'll be glad if we have enough hay to last us through. I wasn't counting on it for our winter's fuel." " T h e y went by as high as the houses!" Laura exclaimed. She was still excited. It was strange to see horses' hoofs and a sled and boots in front of your eyes, as a little animal, a gopher, for instance, might see them. "It's a wonder they don't sink in the drifts," Ma said. "Oh, no." Pa was wolfing his toast and drinking his tea rapidly. " T h e y won't sink. These winds pack the snow as hard as a rock. David's shoes don't even make tracks on it. T h e only trouble's where the grass is lodged and loose underneath."
Roger Scruton died last Sunday, and the world is poorer for his loss. He was an intellectual of impressive proportions: a philosopher, author, teacher, and musician. He was also, to the dismay of many of his fellow academics, an unapologetic conservative who became one after witnessing the destructive student riots in Paris in 1968: "I suddenly realised I was on the other side. What I saw was an unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans. When I asked my friends what they wanted, what were they trying to achieve, all I got back was this ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook. I was disgusted by it, and thought there must be a way back to the defence of western civilization against these things. That's when I became a conservative. I knew I wanted to conserve things rather than pull them down." Scruton was not shy about putting his convictions into practice. For a decade- 1979 to 1989- he was one of a number of Cambridge academics who took part in an underground education program in communist Czechoslovakia, smuggling in books, giving secret lectures, and holding exams in a cellar. Scruton was eventually caught and detained, which resulted in his being expelled from the country and being put on the Index of Undesirable Persons. He wrote a novel based on these experiences entitled Notes From Underground. With a writer as prolific as Roger Scruton, there are any number of quotes on any number of topics that I could feature here. Indeed, he has previously made an appearance in my Quote of the Week posts. Today, I think that I will quote his diagnosis of what is wrong with modern education, something with which I find myself in total agreement.
“From this state of bewildered scepticism the student may take a leap of faith. And the leap is never backwards into the old curriculum, the old canon, the old belief in objective standards and settled ways of life. It is always a leap forward, into the world of free choice and free opinion, in which nothing has authority and nothing is objectively right or wrong. In this postmodern world there is no such things as adverse judgement – unless it be judgement of the adverse judge. It is a playground world, in which all are equally entitled tot their culture, their lifestyle and their opinions.
And that is why, paradoxically, the postmodern curriculum is so censorious – in just the way that liberalism is censorious. When everything is permitted, it is vital to forbid the forbidder. All serious cultures are founded on the distinctions between right and wrong, true and false, good and bad taste, knowledge and ignorance. It was to the perpetuation of those distinctions that the humanities, in the past were devoted. Hence the assault on the curriculum, and the attempt to impose a standard of 'political correctness' – which means, in effect, a standard of non-exclusion and non-judgement – is also designed to authorise a vehement kind of judgement, against all those authorities that question the orthodoxy of the left.” ― Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left
Below is a picture of Roger Scruton's study. What a lovely spot to write, read, or make music. He was a scholar and a gentleman and he will be missed.
“Coming close to death you begin to know what life means, and what it means is gratitude.” -Roger Scruton
We had a snowstorm on Wednesday, which left the world looking absolutely beautiful:
"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, 'go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'" - Lewis Carroll
Niece decides to take a taste of her baby snowman:
Last night after work, I and two of my sisters went down to the homestead and shovelled out our parents' driveway. It was a beautiful, crisp night.
On Sunday I continued my annual tradition of not watching the Golden Globes as, judging by the ratings, did a lot of other people. I did see, however, that host Ricky Gervais had apparently said some offensive things- no surprise there- to the gathered celebrities which were, depending on who you listened to, either hilarious or shockingly mean- or both, maybe. Unwilling to subject myself to the grisly sight of self-satisfied egomaniacs pontificating on subjects they have little to no understanding of and then patting themselves on the back for their "bravery", I waited until Monday to check out clips of Gervais' monologue. And frankly, it was great. I haven't actually watched a lot of Ricky Gervais; I've never seen the original The Office- and only a smattering of the American version- and haven't watched his stand up either, because I don't generally like blue humour. So mostly I've just seen clips online of him hosting the Golden Globes on numerous occasions, which are admittedly pretty funny with him verbally smacking around the stars, smirking all the while . This was his fifth and final time hosting, and so he apparently decided to burn his bridges on the way out.
To be honest, it's not that the jokes were amazing... what was so funny was that he stood there gleefully speaking some very uncomfortable truths to a bunch of pompous celebrities who seem to believe that they have some sort of moral imperative to tell the knuckle-dragging masses how they must live their lives- or else. And the celebrities had to sit there and take it whether they liked it or not... most didn't. Just look at that rictus grin fixed on Tim Cook's face as Gervais ripped into Apple- so great. Gervais hit on a lot of issues that the Hollywood crowd would prefer were swept under the rug- or red carpet, as the case may be. He mocked their constant droning on about "diversity", impishly told the executives in the room that they were terrified of Ronan Farrow- and should be- and bluntly pointed out that most of them knew what Harvey Weinstein was up to, but turned a blind eye to further their careers. He mocked Felicity Huffman's conviction and made an Epstein joke, drawing attention to the fact that a lot of them consorted with the pedophile, even after his conviction. Gervais also sneered at their faux woke-ness: pretending to occupy the moral high ground, all the while dealing with companies with dubious business practices who kowtow to China. He concluded his monologue by advising the stars not to use their acceptance speeches to deliver political diatribes: "You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg." Ain't that the truth.
Of course- of course- the celebs didn't listen to this sage advice, so convinced are they that the world needs the benefit of their superior moral insight. But that was the beauty of Gervais' monologue: it cut the virtue signallers off at the knees. Whenever one of them- like Patricia Arquette- started a secular sermon, the spectre of enfant terrible Ricky was grinning puckishly over their shoulder, reminding everyone that these people are out-of-touch hypocrites. The result was that their speeches sounded even lamer than usual... or at least they did in the few seconds of them that I could stomach listening to. Because for one night anyway, someone had called them on their false piety, exposed it for what it was, and laughed at them because of it. Elites with multiple mansions, who travel around the world in private jets, yachts, and stretch limos telling ordinary people to use public transit and conserve power. Celebrities who screech about pay gaps, the Bechdel test, and exploitation of women but who also chummed around with the likes of Henry Weinstein despite knowing what he was, in order to get good roles. Cheering for self-admitted child rapist Roman Polanski. Calling anyone who questions illegal immigration racist while regarding Latinos only as a source of cheap labour: Kelly Osbourne- "Who will clean your toilets?"; Amber Heard- "Just heard there's an ICE checkpoint in Hollywood. Everyone better give their housekeepers, nannies, and landscapers a ride home tonight..." Advocating for increased taxes while making their movies wherever they can get the best tax breaks. Saying that they won't work in Nebraska if the state won't allow dudes in the women's washrooms but having no problem working and marketing in China where there are literal concentration camps. And endlessly whinging about McCarthyism and censorship while voluntarily editing "offensive" parts of their movies out for release in China in accordance with their censorship laws. As Ricky Gervais rightly pointed out, "You did it, not me."
Gervais' oft-repeated response to the gasps of outrage was, "I don't care." Most of us don't and haven't for a long time, if ever. You would think that the Hollywood set would realise this, considering how their political ads- in both America and Britain- moved the needle of public opinion not one whit. I can only assume that, surrounded by sycophants and media lap dogs, their insulated bubble and well-padded egos lead them to believe that Ricky Gervais was merely being offensive instead of truthful (and offensive). They actually seem to believe that the hoi polloi need and want them to tell us how to live our lives, and that is the greatest fantasy fiction which Hollywood has ever produced.
"Players, Sir! I look on them as no better than creatures set upon tables and joint stools to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs." - Samuel Johnson
Our New Year's Day bash was great- the whole family there, about 50 in total. Dinner was filled with good food and conversation; I brought a sweet potato casserole, fruit flan, and mint chocolate squares. We also exchanged our family gifts at that time (we draw names for it during our family getaway in May). I had one of my sisters and her family; I got each of her nine kids a little something, and made a wall hanging and quilt for the whole family. I also bought them a year-long family museum pass to all the provincial museums in Nova Scotia.
The sister who had my name gave me Symphony Nova Scotia tickets for their Broadway concert in the spring. This is going to be great!
Probably the best gift of the day was the one which one of my other sisters- who's very musical- received: a stumpf fiddle (sometimes called a pogo cello). This is a kind of one-man-band instrument that has a large spring, a tin pan drum, a horn, a wood block, and a series of bells.
The stumpf fiddle is mostly used by U.K. skiffle bands and bluegrass bands these days, one being Rend Collective, the Irish Christian folk rock group. One of their songs featuring the stumpf fiddle is below:
Some of my nephews & nieces- and their parents- went to see them when they were in Halifax this year:
Oh, yeah... some axe throwing was also done, and no one ended up with arterial bleeding.