deletedNov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023
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I remember one, Mrs. Styles. When Dad left NASA after the moon program was winding down, we moved to LIttle Rock, AR. First a duplex in the suburbs, then eventually in a rural town about 30 minutes outside of the city, called East End. There, until we we moved to Texarkana in the early 80s, I had an amazing childhood. Nice house (with a pool, even), friends (Shannon, still my bro), and surrounded by acres and acres of forest, in which many an adventure was had. We went to church at Sardis United Methodist Church, with people I know to this day. But one in particular is of the sort described above. Mrs. Styles. I do not know how my parents met her in particular, but she became a caretaker of me and my brother when they were away. She was a widow who lived on a property that, to a young boy, was magical. Local small farm, pond for fishing, all kinds of domestic birds, including a big, cranky gander named John, whom I learned how to handle from Mrs. Styles (basically, pick up a stick and wave it at him, he'd turn tail). I learned some basic farm stuff from her. But also, how this godly, beautiful, kind woman found a place in her heart for these two lads. When we moved away from Little Rock to Texarkana when I was 13, I lost track of her. I would like to know how she fared, and if she has departed and is with my parents, when. I would like to know where her mortal remains lay and one day go to pay her respect. For her love and that remarkable property and its connection to our past as a culture and a species stays with me to this day.

Similar tale from my grandparents on my father's side, but that is a story for another day.

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Wow. I'm sold. I'll buy it.

About adult friendships with children: this was true even in the 80s, when I was a kid. I well remember kindly adults like the farmer whose land lay behind our house and who allowed us pesky kids to roam his fields and pick strawberries and took us for rides on his ancient tractor. It's very sad that these days, as stated, the assumption would be that his interest in us was a sick one.

As for social relationships: yes. Read any novel from the 1950s backwards and you are struck by just how much people go out to parties and hang out with each other. It's endless.

I firmly believe that technology has destroyed human relationships by making us less dependent on each other, and much more alone.

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It's important to remember the old ways and the old days. I remember well the stories of my parents growing up in what are now ghost towns (razed to the ground when coal no longer was profitable after WW II), growing up without indoor plumbing, fellow immigrant families all around from all over Europe, hunting and fishing, and living life. It was during the Depression, but they had happy memories to their dying days, and we'd frequently travel back there for reunions--some, for our enormous family, others that would include them, but also anyone else who grew up there.

I do think that there are many, many good things about the past and it's world view. But I also think that, with all memories, they are sweetened by a nostalgia that smooths over the very real downsides, because of the bitterness over the good things we lost.

I would do almost anything to see the sexual revolution gone, along with its attendant evils of abortion, broken families, and the sexual mutilation of children. But I know it didn't arise in a vacuum, and the seeds for the world we see today were planted long ago. And even back then, there was evil. No, it wasn't publicly accepted, and that's not nothing--but it also covered up that rarely were those evils confronted for what they were. In my own family there were dark things that I didn't learn about until years later--in the midst of those happy memories, there were evil men who did awful things.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

"Animals move through a world older and more complete than ours".

Behold, Fido and Mittens! If a dog or cat has nothing better to do, it goes for a stroll or takes a nap. It does not obsess about it's done with its life or what tomorrow may bring. Wisdom! Let us be attentive.

"I realize that we could not build some of these churches now"

Eastern Iowa has 140 year old Catholic churches with intricate hand-carved wooden high altars about 30 feet high, comparable to the best in Europe, as the German-Luxembourgen immigrants knew how to do this. They built these monuments to glory of God in their penury, scratching a living from the earth. Their ancestors can hardly keep the lights on.

Still, that's better stewardship than the western side of the state where high altars were chopped down because some poison wind blew across those rolling hills in the late 1960s.

In re: education. My grandparents had eighth-grade educations in single-room country schoolhouses, but could do math in their heads and recite lengthy poetry or history on command. I dare say they knew their catechisms better than many attendees at the recent Vatican Synod, as well. When leafing through very old National Geographic magazines, I was struck at how much higher the quality of the writing was and presumption of cultural literacy and vocabulary among common readers.

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Ok, if y’all are interested in this at all, do yourselves a favor and read one of the best short stories ever, Mary Lerner’s “Little Selves,” about the old ways in Ireland, right now:


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My parents use to get dressed up to go out to parties and smoke and drink and dance. Who has adult parties anymore?

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Too many disparate things covered there, way too many, to respond to each one, or even a few of them. So I will just make the general observation that struck me when reading through them.

History is trade-offs. It just is. Things change. Some of the changes that are "better" result in losing other things that you like but are incompatible with the new, "better", thing. I'm well aware that lots of people wish that this were not the case, that we could have the "better" thing without losing the other thing that we liked, but it doesn't work that way -- there are trade-offs. Just a few examples ...

The both commercial and scientific restructuring of the agricultural sector led to much more efficient food production and distribution, which lowered food cost, which resulted in the population boom we have seen, life span increases, all kinds of measures of sturdier, healthier people. Of course, more issues come from that, such as obesity, overpopulation (disputed, and not just from the right -- see Matthew Yglesias), environmental despoilation, GMOs and related issues and so on but also massively decreased hunger, starvation, death from want of food. But the nature of agriculture, and the rural farmer culture that went with it, changed irrevocably. It's a trade-off.

The sexual revolution, again a combination of technological and social changes, led to much higher workforce participation by women, which led to greater economic freedom and independence for women, and greater equality between the sexes than any prior period in history. At the same time, it lowered birth rates and marriage rates, raised divorce rates, increased rates of STDs, led to the rise of a sexuality culture that prevails today in the popular culture and so on. But the benefits were very real, as well as the costs. Not everything that came of it was good, but much that came of it is now central to American life, especially for the female part of the population, and is not negotiable regardless of the "cost" required to attain it. It's a trade-off.

Trade-offs are imperfect by their nature. Both of the examples I note above, as well as the other areas addressed in the sections excerpted in the post, involve areas that are deeply disputed and contested, and I am well aware that my own descriptions represent only one way to characterize these things, and a way that would be vehemently disputed by others. Such is the nature of trade-offs, and the nature of history as well.

And one can argue that the older set of trade-offs was better than the newer one -- but, again, that's a question of personal preferences and opinion. Human nature is imperfect, and so each set of trade-offs at any point in time will have its own negative aspects, its own downsides in the trade-off which is then being made. There is no "optimal solution", because human beings are very sub-optimal creatures, and in any case there is no agreement, and likely never will be, about what that optimal solution would be anyway.

I think therefore that it is fine to note that one dislikes the current set of trade-offs, or that one wishes the upsides of the current system were possible without the downside trade-offs, or try to mitigate some of those trade-offs or what have you, but that is just one opinion among many. Waxing nostalgic about the prior system of trade-offs is relatively pointless in itself, because that system represented the equilibrium of trade-offs that, for a variety of reasons (not all of them good), prevailed during earlier historical periods, and for which there was a litany of downsides, some of which were removed by our more recently achieved trade-offs, which introduced different downsides. In the end, it's just expressing a preference for one set of downsides vs another -- which is fine, we all have our preferences, but it isn't very interesting.

More fundamentally I honestly do not think conservatives will get anywhere in the "next phase" of the culture (and related political) sphere by waxing nostalgic about the past. What is needed, urgently, is a model that matches the present conditions and the soon to be future conditions, that does not rest on attacking its fundaments, but offers a different vision for the near future that is positive, and not trying to bring this or that back from the past. This is lacking, and as long as it is lacking, it will be just a series of Man of La Mancha episodes, I think, for the conservatives.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Brian Kaller has an easy writing style, great insights, and should be published.

I am a son of suburbia, one of the most ephemeral lifestyles there is. My parents moved us to Seabrook MD in 1969. Seabrook was 99 % white in those days. Before World War Two, most of Prince George's County was made up of tobacco farms. This part of Maryland had been steeped in a tobacco culture since the 1600s. Nearly three centuries. After the war, the land was butchered up and made into housing developments full of Split-Foyers, Split-Levels, Colonials, Ramblers and Ranchers. Suburbanization was a radical change but when you are a child you don't realize how radical a change had occurred in Seabrook and the surrounding county. Most of the farmers sold out except for a Strawberry farm that catered to suburbanites. I worked at that farm during my senior year in high school. It has since been cut up into housing developments.

Seabrook was a fun place to grow up. It seemed every house in Seabrook had married parents and three children. Children would play tag at night in the summer. The Boys' Club provided sports and many men of the town volunteered to coach. Near the middle of town there was the Green Acres swimming pool that was filled with children in the summer and the blonde-haired children's hair would turn green due to the chlorine. The shopping center had a Grand Union grocery, a Bambino's pizza shop, a wonderful bakery, a record shop, a bank, a barber shop and a Tastee-Freeze, a favorite of mine. The Lanham Inn made a fine pizza. At the southern edge of town was Langway's bar, named for a hockey star. At the west edge of town was the rednecky Princess Garden Inn bar. Seabrook had four elementary schools, two junior highs and one senior high, DuVal.

But demographic change came to Seabrook slowly at first and then rapidly. Worse, almost all the institutions died. The Grand Union died first in the 80s and while the Grand Union franchise still lives, it is small and regional. The Tastee Freeze, Lanham Inn and the Princess Garden Inn died in the 90s. Langway's moved to Crofton and still exists. All the other stores died except the barber shop, still run by an Italian immigrant who is in his eighties. The schools were whittled down due to population decline. DuVal High still exists but is likely to get its name changed. DuVal is named after an obscure Supreme Court Justice appointed by James Madison, Gabriel Duvall. DuVal is in the process of being re-named as Duvall was a large landowner in the old tobacco days with a plantation full of slaves. So he was evil just like Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson and Lee.

The Seabrook I grew up in is dead as a roadkill deer. That's how suburbia works.

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Marvellous writing. I will buy the book when it comes out.

A small point: "...that’s probably not how Homer’s audience saw it. Their descendants, by the time of Euripides or Sophocles, would think differently." The Greeks in the time of Euripides and Sophocles would not have thought so much differently from their Homeric forebears, at least on the matter of who we should sympathise with. It was the coming of Christianity that changed that, and that makes the big difference between us on the one hand, and the Sophoclean / Homeric Greeks on the other.

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I don’t think I can help, but this writer is so sane. I long for a Ben Op community, which is what I think he is describing. I want to get this book when it’s published.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 12, 2023

“In a few generations we have become the most dependent creatures ever to exist outside of zoos.”

And that is perhaps the best description of how the Elites and Oligarchs view us, as a working zoo which is the inefficient engine for their Great Reset and NWO.

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There was much indeed that was beautiful about old Ireland, and my husband's family celebrates it. But there's also the deep mourning that runs throughout Ireland because of the Great Famine (potato blight) from 1840-1852. One million died, another million (at least) fled the country, desperately searching for food, and a future somewhere else. They lost one-fourth of their entire population in those terrible years, and it spurred a century long population decline. Between 1840 and 1940, the population of Ireland dropped from 8.5 million to 4.5 million. When life was good in the agricultural world, it was very good; but when it went bad, it was deadly.

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Kaller's work is very good stuff. I hope he finds a publisher.

I read a lot of this sort of writing, both US and UK, and one such book I would highly recommend is Charles Fish's "In Good Hands." On the UK side the natural place to start would be Ronald Blythe's classic "Akenfield." Neither book is sentimental about the past, but they don't crow about how much better things are today either. In short, they recognize the trade-offs for what they are. And of course you find these same sorts of observations in all of Wendell Berry's work.

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The book is beautifully written and sadly describes an Ireland that will never exist again, if, in fact, as a country, it ever did. Ireland is now the "woke" capital of Europe as well described in this article from The European Conservative. Hard to believe what has happened to this country.


It also includes a statement which I'm sure accurately describes the sincere belief of the author (and probably the majority of those who subscribes to Rod's substack) as a good Christian but which I believe represents his and your weakness in truly fighting the woke ideology that has taken over the West. "We can and should treat people as equals, if we mean under the law or in the eyes of God as fellow human souls making their way through earth," It sounds wonderful in theory and is suicidal in secular practice.

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Well worth reading, as Esolen always is.

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