Repost: New Year’s Eve at the Farm

This is a repost of a story I’d written some years ago. It’s a remembrance of a culture that is gone, killed by democrats, the political correct crowd and liberals with an agenda to destroy this nation. They have had great success over the last 50 years. It is good to remember what was…and has been lost.

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Growing up on the farm, we had a few traditions—mostly imported. New Years was a family holiday. Kith ‘n kin visited on Thanksgiving and Christmas. New Years, however, was just Mom, Dad, me and later Grandma.

The farm was located in the middle of coal country in southern Illinois. The population was mostly Scots/Irish/English who brought mining skills learned in the coal mines of England and Wales. During the Union/Mine Owner wars of the early 20th century, many East Europeans were brought in as strike breakers. After the strikes were resolved, the East Europeans—Poles, Hungarians and various Russians, became good union members and added their traditions to those of their predecessors. However, their new traditions were mostly religious holidays than of New Years.

http://www.viewsofthepast.com/photos/hunt/h-camp-017.jpgOne tradition that became almost universal was the tradition of the gift of coal. The tradition was that the home would have good luck if the first person to cross the threshold in the new year was a dark Englishman, Welshman, Scot, Irish (add other nationality here) wishing everyone within Happy New Year and bringing a gift of a bucket of coal to warm the hearth. My Dad fit that job description and since I was the next oldest (only) male in the house, I assisted with the tradition.

Come New Years Eve around 11PM, earlier in some locales, the men of the house would leave with a bucket of coal, their shotgun, and, for those who imbibed, a bottle or mason jar of holiday cheer. In town, they would usually head for the closest bar or other gathering place and wait for the mine whistle to blow the arrival of midnight.

At the farm, we had three close neighbors; John Davis, our neighbor just across the road from the farm, Sy Malone, a friend of Dad’s who had a small farm a quarter-mile to our west, and Ken Shoemaker who lived a couple of hundred yards to the east. All were coal miners or had been. Ken Shoemaker was also a bus driver for the High School. John Davis’ place was the most central of us and he had a heated barn for his heifers. That was our gathering place.

Ken and Sy usually arrived early bringing some ‘shine that Sy made in the woods in back of his house. John would join next. By the time Dad and I arrived, they were sitting around a kerosene heater and usually well lubricated. The men talked and drank. Dad sipped tea from a thermos he had brought. I listened. I heard quite a bit of gossip, bragging and stories while waiting in that barn.

Remembering those times, I’m amazed that with all the drinking that occurred, there was never a firearm accident. I think folks were more used to guns and how to handle them. Many were WW2 veterans such as Ken and Sy Malone. John Davis supplemented his mine income by trapping pelts and as an occasional commercial meat hunter. Dad was a long-time hunter as well. They were experienced folks who acquired gun-handling habits that just weren’t broken even when one has consumed large amounts of alcohol.

In coal country, the time standard was the mine whistle. The whistle blew at shift change each day, at noon, and on New Years Eve, at midnight. The closest mine to the farm was about five miles away. That mine, Orient #2, was on the north edge of West Frankfort. Dad, John and Sy worked there. Ken worked occasionally at Orient #3.

When midnight neared, everyone loaded their shotguns—usually with #6 or #7 1/2 shot, and went outside to listen for the whistle. At the stroke of midnight, delayed only by distance, we heard the mine whistles; Orient #2 to the south, followed by Old Ben #9 to the south-east. Another whistle arrived from the west, followed slightly late by Orient #3 from the north. The men raised their shotguns and in turn fired three times into the air. Nine shots in all. 

As the sound of their shots faded away, I could hear the patter of falling shot and the echoes of other shotguns rolling in from surrounding points. In the far distance, I could hear the Sheriff let loose with his Thompson sub-machine gun…a weapon confiscated from Charlie Birger decades before. Charlie Birger was tried for murder and hanged—the last public hanging in Illinois.

As the gunfire died away, each man picked up his bucket of coal, his shotgun and began the trek home to be the first dark-headed man to cross the home’s threshold. In lieu of hair, John Davis wore a dark hat.

It was a short walk for Dad and me, just across the road and up the drive. Dad walked up to our front door and knocked. Mom would answer and Dad would exclaim, “Happy New Year!” and we’d go inside to the warmth. Mom would have coffee or more tea for Dad, a glass of milk for me and either cake, sweet rolls or home-made doughnuts depending on what she and Grandma had made that day.

New Years was a family celebration, but New Years Eve was one for males. A celebration in the cold or in a warm barn. A gathering of men, boys, talk, drink and memories. The communal celebration of the coming year.

End of the Year Review

Usually, at this time of year, the media has a feeding frenzy of Year-End Reviews. For some reason, I’m not seeing many this year. Camile Paglia had an interesting view in her column last week, in the Wall Street Journal. Paglia, a self-described lesbian, wrote an article in defense of men and masculine virtues.

It was an interesting article, especially from one firmly entrenched in the left and a feminist. She has had a revelation! Men, and masculine virtues are a necessity if Western Culture is to survive.

The rot is pervasive. For example, a church erected a sign saying “Support our Troops”. The sign replaced a faded realtor sign. It wasn’t long someone complained to the county and an order was issued to the church to remove the sign. Why? Supposedly, because the church failed to get the proper permit. The real reason? Hatred for our country and the virtues associated with our military.

Paglia believes that trend has gone too far. From Zero-tolerance edicts in education to gender-neutral policies across the country. It is time for that to come to an end.

Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues

The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization.

Updated Dec. 28, 2013 10:46 p.m. ET
Philadelphia

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of “Sexual Personae,” she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled “Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, ” and it’s easy to see why. “If civilization had been left in female hands,” she wrote, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, “Glittering Images,” is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.

Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and “abrasive, strident and obnoxious.” Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (“a true artist”), then blasting ObamaCare (“a monstrosity,” though she voted for the president), global warming (“a religious dogma”), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (“the biggest canard,” yet she herself is a lesbian).

But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.

She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. “The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,” she says. “These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.”

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians “lack practical skills of analysis and construction”) to what women wear. “So many women don’t realize how vulnerable they are by what they’re doing on the street,” she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.

When she has made this point in the past, Ms. Paglia—who dresses in androgynous jackets and slacks—has been told that she believes “women are at fault for their own victimization.” Nonsense, she says. “I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters.” She calls it “street-smart feminism.”

Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. “Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys,” she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. “They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters.”

She is not the first to make this argument, as Ms. Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the “war against boys” for more than a decade. The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.

Ms. Paglia observes this phenomenon up close with her 11-year-old son, Lucien, whom she is raising with her ex-partner, Alison Maddex, an artist and public-school teacher who lives 2 miles away. She sees the tacit elevation of “female values”—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.

By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. “This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralization of maleness.” The result: Upper-middle-class men who are “intimidated” and “can’t say anything. . . . They understand the agenda.” In other words: They avoid goring certain sacred cows by “never telling the truth to women” about sex, and by keeping “raunchy” thoughts and sexual fantasies to themselves and their laptops.

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with “no models of manhood,” she says. “Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.” The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm “inspires me as a writer,” she says, adding: “If we had to go to war,” the callers “are the men that would save the nation.”

And men aren’t the only ones suffering from the decline of men. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become “clones” condemned to “Pilates for the next 30 years,” Ms. Paglia says. “Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly,” adding that online pornography is increasingly the only place where men and women in our sexless culture tap into “primal energy” in a way they can’t in real life.

A key part of the remedy, she believes, is a “revalorization” of traditional male trades—the ones that allow women’s studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).

Michelle Obama‘s going on: ‘Everybody must have college.’ Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum” and “people end up saddled with huge debts,” says Ms. Paglia. What’s driving the push toward universal college is “social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window.”

Ms. Paglia, who has been a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since 1984, sees her own students as examples. “I have woodworking students who, even while they’re in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on,” she says.

…men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making.

Sex education, she says, simply focuses on mechanics without conveying the real “facts of life,” especially for girls: “I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented.”

For all of Ms. Paglia’s barbs about the women’s movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women’s movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the “nanny state” mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one “open to stay-at-home moms” and “not just the career woman.”

Yes, it’s a long article. I did trim it a bit. If you wish, you can read the entire article at the WSJ website.

All is not lost, however. We still have young men, and women, joining the military, engaging in traditional roles, trades, acquiring skills that provide role models for the younger ones. There is a revolt, in states across the country against Common Core and it’s emasculating agenda. The opposition against Common Core falls along philosphical lines—the liberals and the NEA are for it, families and those concerned about education that actually teaches instead of indoctrinating students with liberal agendas, are against it.

As these forces intersect, 2014 promises to be ‘an interesting year.’

Reflections

Christmas is over, the holiday, that is. My family celebrated ours with our son-in-law’s parents, our son-in-law, our daughter and the grandkids. It was typical of many family gatherings, probably the majority of households across the country—arrive, greet one another, open presents for kids, watch the paper fly, eat, talk, eat dessert, and finally waddle home.

However, every year, a memory haunts me. Years ago, a couple of decades at least, we were on our way to somewhere for Christmas. We passed a restaurant, one with an empty parking lot except for one car. An old man was looking at the CLOSED sign on the door. All over town, restaurants were closed for the holiday. So were grocery stores. The only businesses open were a few pharmacies and gas stations.

My wife, daughter and I watched him try the door and when it wouldn’t open, walk slowly back to his car. He was alone and had no where to go.

An internet friend found himself in a similar situation. He was a recent widower in his 70s. His wife had died this last year of a long illness, complications of diabetes, I believe.

CHRISTMAS-DINNERHe was a good cook. He had planned on cooking himself a nice Christmas dinner. He started preparing dinner on Monday, leaving the centerpiece, a pork-loin roast, for the last item. On Christmas Eve, all was ready, all he had to do was heat a few items, some rolls on Christmas morning and he was ready: dinner by himself, watch some TV, read, exchange a few emails…a nice Christmas. Alone.

On Christmas Eve, he met a neighbor in similar circumstances. The neighbor was distraught. A son was supposed to come and pick his parent up for Christmas. I don’t know if the neighbor was a man or a woman. The son had called. He was still coming but he was broke. No money to take his parent out for Christmas dinner. The neighbor was on Social Security and also had no money for an unexpected dinner.

My friend gave them his—his dinner he had spent days preparing.

Come Christmas morning, my friend went out looking for dinner. No restaurant was open. No grocery stores were open. He had cleaned out his larder preparing for a dinner he had given away and now had nothing for himself.

If he lived closer, I would have brought him home. Unfortunately, he lives across the country with no close relatives.

At last, he found a few food items on the shelves of a pharmacy. Instead of roast pork loin, he had a TV dinner.

I know people want to be with family on Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and other holidays. People complain when they have to work, begrudging the time spent away from home and family.

When our next major holiday arrives, let’s remember those who no longer have families to join. Let’s remember the elderly who have outlived their spouse and sometimes their children. Let’s remember the divorced or separated, divided by events from family. Let’s remember those who are alone on the holidays, and lonely.

Who knows, it could be, in a few years…or decades, that lonely person may be you.

Bye, Bye Incandescents

By this time next week, the 40 and 60watt incandescent light bulb will be illegal—another strike against us by liberals (and a ‘Pub) utilizing pseudo-science. We are being forced, at the point of the federal ‘gun’, to, once again, buy products we don’t want. In this particular case, it is expensive compact florescent light-bulbs (CFL) and LED bulbs.

I received a ‘sample’ CFL in the mail. It was supposed to replace my usual 60watt bulb. The sender, our local power company, said the bulb would last longer and be cheaper over the long run. The bulb lasted less than a year, the same longevity my 60watt incandescents, and, as I read the accompanying material, would turn my home into a toxic waste dump if I broke the CFL. CFLs contain mercury, a heavy-metal, toxic element.

Not only that, I couldn’t drop it in the trash when it dies. What am I to do with a dead CFL? Sneak out in the middle of the night and toss it in a dumpster somewhere, I suppose.

On top of it all, the LED replacements are more expensive. They may last longer, but the bluish tinted light is unnatural and frankly, strains my eyes.

The Heritage Foundation released a reminder today and this continuing federal tyranny. The motivation behind the bans of incandescent bulb was not efficiency. It was nothing more than a federal power-grab.

Time to Stock Up on Incandescent Bulbs Before They Go Out Permanently

December 26, 2013 at 6:30 am

If your New Year’s resolution is to change your light bulbs, don’t worry—the federal government’s here to help.

Beginning January 1, 2014, the federal government will ban the use of 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs. The light bulb has become a symbol in the fight for consumer freedom and against unnecessary governmental interference into the lives of the American people.

MB12.26_v2 - light bulbs

In 2007, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law an energy bill that placed stringent efficiency requirements on ordinary incandescent bulbs in an attempt to have them completely eliminated by 2014. The law phased out 100-watt and 75-watt incandescent bulbs last year.

Proponents of government-imposed efficiency standards and regulations will say, “So what? There are still plenty of lighting options on the shelves at Home Depot; we’re saving families money; and we’re reducing harmful climate change emissions.”

The “so what” is that the federal government is taking decisions out of the hands of families and businesses, destroying jobs, and restricting consumer choice in the market. We all have a wide variety of preferences regarding light bulbs. It is not the role of the federal government to override those preferences with what it believes is in our best interest.

Families understand how energy costs impact their lives and make decisions accordingly. Energy efficiency has improved dramatically over the past six decades—long before any national energy efficiency mandates.

If families and firms are not buying the most energy-efficient appliance or technology, it is not that they are acting irrationally; they simply have budget constraints or other preferences such as comfort, convenience, and product quality. A family may know that buying an energy-efficient product will save them money in the long term, but they have to prioritize their short-term expenses. Those families operating from paycheck to paycheck may want to opt for a cheaper light bulb and more food instead of a more expensive light bulb and less food.

Some may read this and think: Chill out—it’s just a light bulb. But it’s not just a light bulb. Take a look at the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program. Basically anything that uses electricity or water in your home or business is subject to an efficiency regulation.

When the market drives energy efficiency, it saves consumers money. The more the federal government takes away decisions that are better left to businesses and families, the worse off we’re going to be.

Merry Christmas!

May you all have the best Christmas!

— M & J, Crucis’ Court.

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‘Twas Christmas Eve’s Eve…

Larry Stewart is gone now. He succumbed to cancer a few years ago. He was once homeless, destitute, when someone helped him and changed his life. That one act of kindness benefited thousands of people over the years; a $20 gift to a homeless man trying to scam a meal.

For this Christmas Eve’s Eve, here is the story of Larry Stewart, the Secret Santa, Kansas City’s own.

“Thirty-five years ago a cold, hungry, and homeless young man walked into the Dixie Diner in Houston, Mississippi. With no money in his pockets he concocted a plan of petty crime to get something to eat and then pretend he had lost his wallet. He had no idea what was in store for him.

A single act of kindness by a man named Ted Horn, the owner of the diner, changed this young man’s life forever.”

The young man never forgot that act of kindness and as a result Secret Santa was born.

larry_stewartLest we forget…

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Today’s serving of Celtic Woman Christmas video is Cloë Agnew.

 Tomorrow is a repost of a Christmas Gathering.

Another Pass

I am still not sick. I may have the symptoms of being sick, but I’m not sick.

Today’s post will be short. I saw something today, that I’ve not seen in a long, long time. An editorial in the New York Slimes that was pro-conservative. It was a guest editorial, of course.

John Boehner’s Betrayal

Op-Ed Contributor

 

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — THERE’S a political axiom that says if nobody is upset with what you’re doing, you’re not doing your job. We’ve seen this proved time and again in the liberal attacks on conservatives like Sarah Palin and Dr. Benjamin Carson, who provide principled examples to women and minorities and are savaged by the left for doing that job so well.

But cheap-shot politics isn’t relegated to Democrats. Last week the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, attacked conservative groups who criticized the budget deal, hashed out by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, and Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, for failing to reduce spending and for raising taxes.

“They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” he said, calling the opposition “ridiculous.”

In one way, Mr. Boehner is correct. The goals of groups like ours are those that congressional Republicans once espoused: smaller government, less spending and lower taxes. Alas, those who demand such things today from their elected officials face unfounded attacks.

Make no mistake: The deal is a betrayal of the conservatives who fueled the Republicans’ 2010 midterm shellacking of Democrats.

It raises discretionary spending above $1 trillion for 2014 and 2015. It reneges on $63 billion of sequester cuts. Its $28 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade is a pittance compared with the $680 billion deficit piled up in 2013 alone. And it raises taxes, particularly on airplane passengers through new travel fees.

Perhaps most troubling is that the deal locks in spending for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, ensuring that the worst parts of Obamacare will continue unfolding to the shock of increasing numbers of Americans.

But the budget plan is about more than taxes and spending. It was a slick means by which Senate Republicans could appear to oppose the deal while in fact allowing it to sail through the chamber.

Take Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the minority leader, who opposed efforts to defund Obamacare earlier this year while claiming to do everything possible to stop it.

After attacking conservative groups for their efforts to prevent the funding of Obamacare, Mr. McConnell, who is facing a primary challenge in his 2014 re-election race, is now seeking to portray himself as a conservative darling, championing fiscal austerity by voicing opposition to the budget proposal. (My organization has not endorsed a candidate in that race.) Doing so gives him some nifty talking points that align with most conservative groups, but it is little more than parliamentary sleight of hand.

Consider how he handled the vote on the bill. To defeat a filibuster, its supporters needed 60 senators to win cloture and move to a final vote. Instead of rallying his troops against the vote, Mr. McConnell allowed a handful of Republicans in battleground states — who needed to be seen as supporting the bill — to vote for cloture, while he and the rest railed against it, casting themselves in the role of budget hawks.

The second half of the column can be read HERE.

In short, it was all Smoke and Mirrors, a ploy to give some RINOs in battleground states, the appearance of being fiscally conservative.

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Continuing the theme of this week, here is the Celtic Woman with another Christmas video.