H. Ford on Land

The land! That is where our roots are. There is the basis of our physical life. The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity. From the land comes everything that supports life, everything we use for the service of physical life. The land has not collapsed or shrunk in either extent or productivity. It is there waiting to honor all the labor we are willing to invest in it, and able to tide us across any local dislocation of economic conditions. No unemployment insurance can be compared to an alliance between man and a plot of land.

— Henry Ford.

Quoted on the title page of Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management

White Trash

Last year, the New York Times reviewed Nancy Isenberg’s history of class distinctions in white America:

“During the 1600s,” she writes, “far from being ranked as valued British subjects, the great majority of early colonists were classified as surplus population and expendable ‘rubbish.’”

Many were indentured servants. Others were “roguish highwaymen, mean vagrants, Irish rebels, known whores and an assortment of convicts shipped to the colonies for grand larceny or other property crimes.” Others were simply lazy — “idlers,” in the lingo of the time. They would rather drink rum than clear an acre of pine trees.

She singles out North Carolina as “what we might call the first white trash colony.” It was swampy and, thanks to its shoal-filled shoreline, lacked a major port. It had no real planter class. Its citizens were viewed as sluggards, “cowardly Blockheads” in the words of one early writer. Another referred to the state as the lawless “sinke of America.”

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America is now on my reading list.

I couldn’t help but think of the North Carolina Monument at Gettysburg. The inscription notes at the end: “One Confederate soldier in every four who fell here was a North Carolinian.”

So: the “cowardly” “white trash” state supplied the bulk of the the cannon fodder. Food for thought.

The Iron Doesn’t Lie

The iron doesn’t lie.

The Iron Doesn't Lie
The Iron

It has no self-image to protect.

It does not bluff.

You cannot negotiate with it.

There are no misunderstandings, no emotional undertones, no expectations.

The iron simply is.

It simply responds to Mr. Gravity

and whatever force you apply

and the sum of those forces

is what it is.

The iron cannot lie.

You are sufficient today

or you are not.

And if you are not sufficient today

the iron does not hate you,

the iron did not trick you,

and the only drama is in your head

not with the iron.

The iron simply is.

The iron doesn’t lie.

 

Happy Feast Day of King Alfred the Great

uffington-white-horse-sat

“I know that weeds shall grow in it
Faster than men can burn;
And though they scatter now and go,
In some far century, sad and slow,
I have a vision, and I know
The heathen shall return.

“They shall not come with warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

“Not with the humour of hunters
Or savage skill in war,
But ordering all things with dead words,
Strings shall they make of beasts and birds,
And wheels of wind and star.

“They shall come mild as monkish clerks,
With many a scroll and pen;
And backward shall ye turn and gaze,
Desiring one of Alfred’s days,
When pagans still were men.”

— G. K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse

Ancient Wisdom for Current Politics

This morning’s BCP Daily Office readings:

Sirach 10:1-18
Psalm 37:1-18

They are both timely and comforting the morning after the third Presidential “debate.”

The government of the earth is in the hands of the Lord,
    and over it he will raise up the right man for the time.

— Sirach 10:4

The Lord has plucked up the roots of the nations,
    and has planted the humble in their place.
The Lord has overthrown the lands of the nations,
    and has destroyed them to the foundations of the earth.
He has removed some of them and destroyed them,
    and has extinguished the memory of them from the earth.

— Sirach 10:15-17

 

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers;*
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
For they shall soon wither like the grass,*
and like the green grass fade away.
Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

— Psalm 37:1-3

Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers,*
the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; *
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off,*
but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.

— Psalm 37:8-10

Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.

Deplorable Math

Back of the envelope math: 50 million "not America" Americans in Hillary's "basket of deplorables." So much for #StrongerTogether
50 Million Deplorables

I have friends taking issue with my math regarding the 50 million Americans that Hillary Clinton is writing off as irredeemably “not America.”

It’s possible that I’ve overstated, and it’s really something like a mere 30 million.

Since her description was delivered with a wink and a nudge (you know, “those people”…) there’s no precise number available. The only one who really knows how many millions are in Hillary’s Big Basket o’ Deplorables is… Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps someone should ask her.

When she’s well enough to take questions, of course.

Agrarian Encouragement, Greek Edition

“Now I tell you this,” continued Socrates, “because even the wealthiest cannot hold aloof from husbandry. For the pursuit of it is in some sense a luxury as well as a means of increasing one’s estate and of training the body in all that a free man should be able to do…

To me indeed it seems strange, if any free man has come by a possession pleasanter than this, or has found out an occupation pleasanter than this or more useful for winning a livelihood.”

— Xenophon, Economics, Chapter 5

SMART Weightlifting Goals

I’ve had some goals in mind for my weightlifting, but nothing ever committed to. On reflection, I realized that I am in danger of making this a VAPID goal, not a SMART one.

I had the idea of a set of targets for the three major lifts. For simplicity, I think of it as “2/3/4.” That is, 200 lbs for the bench press, 300 pounds for the squat, and 400 pounds for the deadlift. This gives me a simple 1/1.5/2 multiplier (plus a fudge factor) times my bodyweight.

Let’s check this vs. the SMART criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable

Check.

  • Action-oriented

I know the action steps required to meet this goal. The plan is to follow the Starting Strength method, modified as required to train around injuries.

  • Realistic

Aye, there’s the rub. I think this is a realistic strength level to aim for – I won’t be doing any powerlifting competitions, but this is a good baseline for what a strong man ought to be able to do. Hopefully it is realistic given my age, physical condition, and other life commitments.

  • Time-defined

Here is the part I was missing. In my previous thinking about it, I hadn’t set any time frame for actually getting this done. Other than “sometime before I die.”

So I will modify the goal to “2/3/4/20.” That is, have a 200 lb bench press, 300 lb squat, and 400 lb deadlift before the end of 2020.

There, that’s SMARTer.