Country Living Series

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Silly Darcy

Here's just a few photos of Mr. Darcy being silly in the front yard, playing with assorted stuff like a bundle of baling twine and an old cheap Frisbee.

And here's Mr. Darcy barking at some cows, who are supremely indifferent to him and calmly chewing their cud.

Only after a couple minutes did the cows leisurely get up, stretch, and wander away. Mr. Darcy was very proud he'd routed the animals All By Himself.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Prepper gardening -- listen to the talk!

I've giving a workshop on the subject of Prepper Gardening this upcoming Saturday at Inland Northwest Preparedness Expo in Sandpoint, Idaho.

If you're in the area, please consider attending!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The latest victim of Social Justice Warriors

Here's my WND column for this weekend, entitled "Science: The latest victim of Social Justice Warriors."

For those unable to access the WND website, the text is below.

Science, the Latest Victim of
Social Justice Warriors

With the rise in awareness of “fake media” and the internet speech cartel banning conservative viewpoints, more and more people are starting to question the clamp on “truth” dominated by the left.

Science – supposedly neutral and free from partisan bias – is no exception. If something is controversial, it’s squelched. If a scientific conclusion contradicts political correctness, it is stifled and the scientist harassed and persecuted.

Consider this article by Theodore P. Hill, professor emeritus of mathematics at Georgia Institute of Technology, who had the audacity to research gender differences in intelligence, specifically the “Greater Male Variability Hypothesis” (GMVH) which asserts there are more idiots and more geniuses among men than among women. While there are many exceptions, the rule of thumb is there is generally more variability in males than in females of the same species throughout the animal kingdom.

“Multiple studies have found that boys and men are over-represented at both the high and low ends of the distributions in categories ranging from birth weight and brain structures and 60-meter dash times to reading and mathematics test scores,” writes Dr. Hill. “There are significantly more men than women, for example, among Nobel laureates, music composers, and chess champions – and also among homeless people, suicide victims, and federal prison inmates.”

Dr. Hill was curious to learn why males in many species are more variable than females. “My aim was not to prove or disprove that the hypothesis applies to human intelligence or to any other specific traits or species,” he stated, “but simply to discover a logical reason that could help explain how gender differences in variability might naturally arise in the same species.” [Italics in original.]

Like any good academic, Dr. Hill’s research was based on solid data. But he made the horrible miscalculation of addressing a subject – gender – inviolate among progressives. This proved to be an unforgivable mistake.

As Dr. Hill and his co-author Sergei Tabachnikov attempted to get the paper published in respected peer-reviewed mathematical journals, they found themselves facing increased hostility from an ever-widening pool of academic social justice warriors. How dare these men suggest there are more male geniuses? Faced with harassment, intimidation, loss of funding and other career threats, Dr. Tabachnikov asked his name to be removed from the paper.

No one could – or would – debate the soundness of the research or the mathematical accuracy of the conclusions. Instead, the opposition was based on feeeeelings. That’s it. Science took a back seat to feeeeelings.

Dr. Hill wasn’t the first to fall prey to progressive bias. Everyone remembers Harvard President Larry Summers, who was given the sack in 2005 for saying that the GMVH might possibly be a contributing factor to the scarcity of women in physics and mathematics departments at top universities. Feminists got a fit of the vapors and Summers was out.

Another high-profile victim, this one in 2017, was at Google when “engineer James Damore suggested that several innate biological factors, including gender differences in variability, might help explain gender disparities in Silicon Valley hi-tech jobs. For sending out an internal memo to that effect, he too was summarily fired.”

Recently, Brown University published a study concluding the “exceptionally rapid growth in cases of transgenderism among children and teens is very likely a result of ‘social contagion.’”

This article noted, “An in-depth report by the Federalist summarizes the study’s conclusion, saying ‘Rapid-onset gender dysphoria’ among teens and young adults may be a social contagion linked with having friends who identify as LGBT, an identity politics peer culture, and an increase in internet use.”

Translation: Transgenderism is a dangerous fad, not a biological condition. But the transgender activists went nuts and the study – regardless of the accuracy of its conclusions – was yanked. Telling the truth is a horrible thing when it contradicts the feeeelings of the left.

This leads to the esoteric question posted by Kevin Sorbo on Twitter: “If liberals don't believe in biological gender then why did they march for women's rights?”

In 2016, a SJW student at the University of Cape Town in South Africa put out a video that went viral, claiming all science must be torn down and abolished because it’s racist.

All science abolished. Let’s see, how did that video get made? How did it get distributed? Wasn’t it science that was involved in making and distributing the video? Doesn’t everyone benefit from this science?

But logic doesn’t apply to social justice warriors – it’s all about feeeelings. Science today does not dare challenge feminist or progressive ideology which, ironically, slows the progress of science (but who cares, right?).

“Feminist science” – a term that makes me want to puke – is becoming more and more popular (and funded by Your Tax Dollars). PJ Media notes, “They want scientists to only undertake studies and only publish conclusions that will support a radical feminist worldview.”

But that’s not science. Got that? It’s not science when “research” is cherry-picked to only support one point of view. That’s propaganda, creepily reminiscent of what went on in National Socialist (read: Nazi) Germany.

Feminist scientists and other academic twits want to argue there is no such thing as a universal truth; that everything is a matter of perception and social construction. “They're hoping to harness the field of scientific discovery to support this idea,” states PJ Media.

But they can’t. Truth is truth, and the scientific method has worked for a long, long time to discard biased feeeelings and uphold facts. Therefore the only way the social justice warriors can bypass this stringent process (as Dr. Hill learned) is to harass, intimidate, defund and ruin the careers of real scientists who refuse to support their agenda.

Great plan, folks. Let’s bring science to a standstill.

Even the left is getting fed up with SJWs and their feeeelings. “What used to be a characteristic of the left wing fringe is now creeping into the mainstream ether, a pitchforks and torches method of forcing regular people to abide by unwritten rules of interaction,” notes James Di Fiore (who describes himself as “a moderate progressive”) on HuffPo.

These kinds of reactions don’t make feminists or SJWs look tough, strong and academically competent. No, it makes them look like fragile little cupcakes unable to stand up to the rigors of the scientific method.

America is becoming an international laughing stock for the quality of its education. Clearly its science output will soon follow.

But there are many non-PC countries which depend on science to advance their national agenda. And some of those countries are our enemies.

Just saying.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The wisdom of age

It's birthday time in the Lewis household. I just turned 56. Don will turn 61 in a couple of weeks.

At this point in our lives, we don't celebrate our birthdays, but they certainly make us more thoughtful. We've reached the point where we're aware of our own mortality. I hope that doesn't sound gloomy because it's not. We're quite happy and content, pleased with how our children have launched themselves into the world, happy to still have my parents with us, still facing challenges in work and on the farm. Life is good.

Which is why this article struck a chord: "Who was happier at 60?"

The author, Liz Jones, just turned 60. And my goodness doesn't she look fabulous:

Ms. Jones contrasts her incredible fitness at 60 with her mother's health at the same age. Her mother had gray hair, false teeth, arthritis, and hip and knee replacements.

But her mom also giggled at life. She never wore a swimsuit, but she happily limped to the beach and sat on the sand with homemade rolls and watched her seven children romp in the water.

In fact, Ms. Jones was "terrified" to look like her mom at the same age, and spent her entire life fighting it. She writes:
I’m the same dress size as when I turned 16. You can tell I’ve dedicated my life not to raising a family, or giggling, but to being 'beach body ready.' Effort is etched on my face. I’m anxious, too: do my arms look fat? Is my hair, dyed fortnightly from the day I turned 25, looking crispy? I only have a half-smile because, if I’m not smiling a little, my face falls. My teeth are veneered, not false. I don’t hobble; instead I walk and run, every day, for miles: a good thing, certainly. But all I can think when I look at the photo of me is my God, how exhausting, and how desperately unhappy. How lonely, too.

I’d been dreading my 60th (Wednesday was the Big Day) from the day I turned 50. It has loomed, large and dark, like an empty grave, because I fear it will mean the death of all I’ve strived for: to be desirable, sexy, fashionable, in and certainly not out. I don’t want to be invisible. I really, really don’t want to be old.

I’ve tried to buy into 60 being the new 40, and how liberating it will be to not feel obliged to Hollywood wax, but the truth is I know I will continue to battle to keep the years at bay. Why? Because I’m not where I should be: I’m single, not secure, not loved. I can’t relax. I have to keep trying.
And therein lays the sad part of this article. Ms. Jones looks like a woman half her age. But how long can she keep this up? When she's 80, will she look like she's 40? What about when she's 90?

Contrast this with her mother, who looked -- arguably -- older than her 60 years. Yet her mother giggled at the beach. She made homemade rolls for her seven kids. She had a husband who adored her and helped her put on her socks since she could no longer reach her feet because of the arthritis. She had already had a hip replacement and a knee replacement. "She was in constant, excruciating pain," noted Ms. Jones. "And yet she is smiling. ... She didn’t dread her birthdays, as I do. She never mentioned the big Six-O or expected a fuss; she probably spent the evening ironing."

Ms. Jones was a career woman, a journalist and a former editor at the beauty magazine Marie Claire. Yet in this painfully honest article, she asks who is happier at 60 -- her or her mom? "My mum was content with her lot, she lived in the moment, she didn’t put off life," noted Ms. Jones. "My overriding feeling, as the Big Day [her 60th birthday] came and went last week, was that my generation of women was sold a lie. We were told our mothers’ lives were disgracefully submissive. We were told we must battle our bodies into submission, land a career in order to hold all the power. Problem is, a great job doesn’t bend down each morning, without a murmur, and pull stockings gently over toes, as Dad did for Mum."

Don is the one who read this article and sent it to me. "You're given a limited lifespan," he observed, "and you're given seasons within that lifespan to accomplish things: marriage, children, retirement. One of the lovely things about having faith is knowing growing older is supposed to happen. No one will be 120 years old when you're standing before the throne. Everyone is immortal at 20. No one is immortal at 60."

My example for aging was set by my mother, who is almost exactly 31 years older than me (our birthdays are three days apart). My mom never fought her gray hair, she embraced it (she would instruct her hair dresser to cut her hair to show the gray to advantage). She and my dad rolled with the punches of life and got back on their feet. Now, having just celebrated their diamond anniversary, they move slower and take great care not to fall. But they're content and satisfied with their lives. What's not to admire? Sure, my mom has wrinkles. But you know what? She earned those wrinkles. They're beautiful.

Don led a rather "wild'n'crazy" life as a young man, before we met. He tells me I wouldn't have liked him at 20, and he doesn't think God would have either. "God blesses people who managed to make it into their 60s," he said, "because He's given us time to make up for our earlier shortfalls. To get square with God can’t happen if you can’t contemplate your own mortality. Since everyone at 20 thinks they’ll live forever, it takes age to acquire the wisdom to know they’re NOT immortal. Growing older is a gift -- if for no other reason it allows us to focus on the next life, not this one."

Ms. Jones apparently spent her whole life desperately trying to stay within one "season" -- her young adulthood. By obsessively focusing on staying a perpetual 25, she's missed the other, more mature seasons that come with life: stable marriage, having babies, raising kids, empty nesting, grandkids, and finally rocking on the back porch, watching the sun go down with a beloved spouse. She bypassed this so she could pretend she's forever 25.

At least she's smart enough to realize who was happier at 60 -- her mom. I sincerely hope she starts to contemplate her own mortality -- a cheery thought, not a grim one -- and gets square with God.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018

Livin' the dream

A couple weeks ago I walked out to the garden to pick some onions for dinner.

On the way I passed our cow Victoria. We had sold her six-month-old calf a few days before, so she was still in the agitated bellowing stage and was using it as an excuse to hop a low spot in the fence and hang around in the driveway. We kept the driveway gate closed, so there was no where else she could go. (She calmed down shortly thereafter and we repaired the fence.)

At the time, the driveway was littered with eight round bales of hay we had delivered to supplement our winter supply. We've since moved the bales into the barn.

I also passed the buff hen, busy mothering the 13 half-grown chicks.

I picked the onions and trimmed the roots and stems, which I dropped in the compost bin before I came back to the house. While I was in the garden, some neighbors dropped by for a visit. "Look at the size of these!" I exclaimed, holding up the onions, which they duly admired.

"And it occurred to me," I added, "how strange it would seem to some people to be passing cows and chickens and hay bales on the way to get onions from the garden for dinner."

"Yep, we're living the dream," replied the wife.

She was right. Sometimes I forget we're livin' the dream and it's good to be reminded.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sad sight

A couple weeks ago, while walking Mr. Darcy, I noticed a pale blotch on the ground at the base of a telephone pole.

Closer inspection revealed it to be a juvenile great horned owl, dead.

It looked like it had just pitched off the telephone pole and fell to the ground. I suspect it starved to death.

Juvenile great horned owls are quite common around us.

At night we hear their characteristic screech, so different than the majestic hoot of their elders.

But it's a tough period in a young owl's life. His screeching calls are actually begging calls to be fed. But his parents can't feed him forever -- he has to learn to hunt on his own. And if he fails -- he starves. "During their initial dispersal in fall, juvenile owls have a high mortality rate, frequently more than 50 percent," notes Wikipedia.

That, I suspect, is what happened to the pathetic bundle of feathers on the ground at the base of the telephone pole.

After a few days, the carcass got scattered by other predators, presumably coyotes, though I suspect there wasn't much meat on those bones.

I hear other juvenile owls every night around our house. I hope they make it.

Monday, September 3, 2018

So when did "ma'am" become an insult?

Here's my WND column for this weekend entitled "When did 'ma'am' become an insult?"

For those unable to access the website, the text is below.

So When Did ‘Ma’am’ Become an Insult?

Our younger daughter, then 19, used to work as a manager in an antique store. As such, she was expected to be polite and respectful with customers. One evening she came home and vented about a customer who turned “volte-face” and nearly bit her head off when our daughter addressed her as “ma’am.” “Don’t call me that!” the woman snarled. “I’m not a ma’am!”

Since our daughter is bred to politeness – and since she represented the store – she couldn’t ask the obvious: “If you’re not a ‘ma’am,” then what ARE you? A jerk?”

I couldn’t believe anyone could be that rude until a similar experience happened to me a few weeks later, when a store clerk took exception to my addressing her as ma’am.

And of course, who can forget Barbara Boxer’s unbelievably rude exchange in 2009 during a committee hearing, when Brigadier General Michael Walsh of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had the effrontery to address her as “ma’am.” Boxer interrupted and asked him to call her “senator.” Boxer was clearly ignorant of military protocol, in which “ma’am” is universally used to address female superiors. In other words, as a female in the military, you have to earn the right to be called “ma’am.”

More recently, a teacher in North Carolina punished a 10-year-old boy named Tamarion Wilson for calling her “ma’am” after she asked him not to – even though the child had recently been hospitalized with seizures and still suffered from memory issues.

This one blew me away. Wilson’s parents took the time to teach their son respect and manners toward authority figures, and then the boy’s politeness was punished. Additionally, “the teacher said that if she had something to throw, she would have thrown it at the boy,” according to Wilson. (The teacher later said that was a joke.)

What’s up with this? A hugely polite term such as “ma’am” is now considered insulting?

Apparently so.

The question of “why” takes a bit of examination. For some women, the term is an acknowledgement that they’re “past their prime.” For others, the term is considered a put-down, an admission of gender, a recognition that they are, in fact, women (horrors!) and not, I dunno, vacuum cleaners or something.

Cosmopolitan, in its usual clueless and vulgar way, states why the term is offensive: “‘Ma'am’ is yet another horrible-sounding word that women are stuck with to describe various aspects of their body/life/hair: Vagina. Moist. Fallopian tubes. Yeast infection. Clitoris. Frizz,” snarks writer Jessi Klein, concluding: “‘Ma'am’ makes people crazy. Almost universally, women hate it (with the exception of a few people in the South who have decided that being called ma'am is a sign of respect or something).”

Um, sweetie, I’ve got news for you: It IS a term of respect, and not just in the South; and by no stretch of the imagination do women hate it “universally.” The military would never condone adopting vulgar terms for body parts when addressing women; they use “ma’am” because it’s polite. Deal with it, cupcake.

Those who take offense at the term “ma’am” are merely revealing their own insecurities, whether it has to do with age or gender or competence or whatever. Klein demonstrates this. “‘Ma’am’ isn't just a form of address,” she writes. “It's a way for a perfect stranger to let us know how old he thinks we are. What is the purpose of this? Why does a West Elm clerk have to let me know he thinks he knows how old I am? The issue isn't my comfort with my age (I'm 40) so much as why, why, why the [very bad expletive] does this need to be a factor in every interaction I have?”

Let’s get one thing straight: Whatever your personal feelings about the matter, whatever your issues or insecurities, whatever your lament about no longer being 19 years old and sexually desirable to strangers on the street … the term is still one of respect. To bite the head off anyone who uses it – whether a brigadier general or a 10-year-old boy – is petty. In other words, don’t take your personal hang-ups and rampant insecurities out on military personnel, children, or strangers who are attempting to be polite. It’s rude.

Folks, if you’ve ever wondered why our country is not the great nation it once was, it’s because of this. It’s the little things. It’s teachers who punish their students for addressing them respectfully. It’s clerks or customers who snarl when addressed politely. It’s military officers who must deal with sensitive senators. It’s women who yell at men for opening a door for them.

Men used to open doors for women, stand when they entered a room, held their chairs, and performed other marks of courtesy. Feminism has largely trashed these courtesies and examples of politeness.

Since women set the benchmarks for behavior in Western culture, it’s no wonder things are going downhill. Telling men not to hold doors for you or to stop addressing you with a polite term of respect simply indicates you no longer want respect from them. Be careful what you wish for.

Politeness is a social lubricant, folks. It’s what holds our society together. It’s what allows millions of different people to get along, despite their differences. Personally I feel honored when someone addresses me as “ma’am.” – but then I’m starting to get grey hair, so maybe I feel I’ve earned it.

“I don't actually advocate for a loss of all courtesy,” said New York Times columnist Natalie Angier in an interview with NPR. “[T]he question is where you put your courtesy.”

That’s nice, Ms. Angier – but how does a stranger know the degree of courtesy you find objectionable? How are they supposed to gauge this?

So for those who take offense at the term “ma’am,” I’ve come up with an alternate term, something anyone can universally use for those rude women who object to “ma’am,” a term I would LOVE to have seen Brigadier General Michael Walsh use on Barbara Boxer:


Try it. I’m sure they’ll love it.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Mother hen

Well, of the two broody hens who hatched out eggs, resulting in an unusual co-parenting arrangement with the resulting 13 chicks, one hen has flown the coop and abandoned all pretense of being a mother. This would be the Jersey Giant hen, who now blends in so well with the rest of the flock that I can't find her to chastise her.

Not that it matters to the chicks. They have happily grouped around the Buff Orpington hen, who continues to act motherly but now has an enormous brood to care for.

But she's done a good job. She hasn't lost a single chick. It's always funny to watch the whole brood try to cram under her feathers.

Like a good mother, she calls them over whenever it's lunch time.

The babies are approaching what we call the "velociraptor" stage, gangling awkward creatures who run with their necks stretched straight out, flapping as they go.

Yep, makes for a happy barnyard.