YouTube is not exactly reliable when it comes to recommending videos for me to watch, but look what showed up in my sidebar tonight:
As most of my readers know, I'm a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books, but not of the movies for a number of reasons. Even though I feel the film story line and characterization are a betrayal of the spirit Tolkien put into his world, I can't deny that there are parts of the movies that are excellent, from the New Zealand setting to the music, and of course I adore this version.
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No, it's not St. Crispin's Day today. I'm a day behind. But I can't wait another year to post one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies: The St. Crispin's Day speech from Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.
In the meantime, two of the Green Ember books are currently free for Kindle, with more to come next week. But really, the regular Kindle prices are so low, it's not worth stressing of you miss the sales.
In church yesterday, as in many places across the land, veterans in our congregation were asked to stand and be honored.
I'm fine with that—veterans should be honored every day.
But here's something to remind us that Memorial Day is for honoring those military heroes who cannot stand up because they are lying in graves all over the world, having given "the last full measure of devotion."
Here, today, I once again especially remember Porter's granduncles, who each served, fought, and died in France during World War I, as part of the U. S. Army's 101st Machine Gun Battalion.
Harry Gilbert Faulk, of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, son of Olaf Frederick and Hilma Reuterberg Faulk, wounded in action near Chatêau-Thierry, France, July 25, 1918. Died of his wounds later that day.
Hezekiah Scovil Porter, from Higganum, Connecticut, son of Wallace and Florence Wells Porter, killed in action near Chatêau-Thierry, France, July 22, 1918.
Amongst the devastating consequences of the Russo-Ukranian War is the disappearance from public eye of the power grab by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and his tyrannical handling of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa.
Actually, a few European politicians did make note of it, calling out Trudeau for his hypocrisy in condemning Russian president Putin while trampling the rights of his own citizens back home. But largely that is yesterday's news.
So today I remember.
This beautiful 14-minute tribute by JB TwoFour (about whom I know nothing but this) bought tears to our eyes as we saw the familiar scenes replayed: the love, the joy, the unity of Canadians in all their diversity, and the support from other nations. Followed, alas, by replacement of the friendly interactions with local law enforcement by an irrational show of force from the government and imported police agencies.
(Yes, the misspelling of "Israel" also brought tears to my eyes, but that's just me.)
May history remember the Freedom Convoy as the turning point in Canada's return to sanity, respect for basic human rights, and constitutional protection for its citizens—instead of the minor footnote Prime Minister Trudeau and his supporters are counting on.
Remember 2019? Must have been at least a decade ago, right? Who'd have thought we could pack so much pandemic, riot, and war into two years.
Nonetheless, my post for March 16, 2019 is at least as appropriate now as it was then, so I'm repeating it.
Sandwiched between 3:14 (Pi Day) and 3:17 (St. Patrick's Day) is
3:16 (Greatest Love Day)
John 3:16, that is.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
In honor of which I present this beautiful anthem, John Stainer's God So Loved the World. No, that's not our choir. But Porter and I have sung this many times and it's one of our favorites.
This interview with GiveSendGo co-founder, Jacob Wells was so uplifting I have to share it. I'd written about GiveSendGo briefly before, and what little I knew about it induced me to listen to the whole interview, despite it being nearly two hours long. The advantage of unedited interviews is that you get them uncensored; the disadvantage is that they are l-o-n-g. But this one does very well being played at 1.5x speed, as long as you're willing to overlook the fact that it makes everyone sound overly and artificially excited. While there are a couple of places where it is better to be watching, for the most part just listening is fine, so you can exercise, wash the dishes, or drive and enjoy it without feeling guilty.
Those who followed the Freedom Convoy story in Canada will appreciate information about the legal consequences for GiveSendGo of the Canadian government's threat to seize assets without benefit of court order, as well as the malicious hack they suffered and how they have responded. Others might find this tedious, but anyone can enjoy hearing about Wells' early life (he grew up in New Hampshire and has 11 siblings), his adventures testifying in front of a Canadian parlimentary committee, and the reasons why GiveSendGo does not discriminate against people or organizations (including the Church of Satan) as long as the projects involved do not violate a few minimal conditions (such as legality).
Rarely have I seen such a positive integration of a person's business, life, and faith. As I said: uplifting. I hope those of you who have time to listen enjoy it as much as I did.
Milestone note: This is my 3000th blog post. That calls for something serious, but not depressing. Here you go:
Fairy tales ... are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. — G. K. Chesterton, 1909 ("The Red Angel")
Since it is so likely that [children] will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. ... Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let the villains be soundly killed at the end of the book. — C. S. Lewis, 1952 ("On Three Ways of Writing for Children")
I write stories for courageous kids who know that dragons are real, that they are evil, and that they must be defeated. I don’t do that because I want to hurt children, but because children do and will face hurts every day. I don’t want to expose them to evil, I want to help them become people for whom evil is an enemy to be exposed. I want to tell them dangerous stories so that they themselves will become dangerous—dangerous to the darkness. — S. D. Smith, 2022 ("My Blood for Yours")
Smith's essay in video form (three minutes).
P.S. There's a new Green Ember book to be released soon, Prince Lander and the Dragon War. Time to reread the previous books in preparation!
The impact of the Middle Ages on our human psyche cannot be overestimated. It's no coincidence that our most beloved epic dramas, from The Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, from The Chronicles of Narnia to The Green Ember, feature knights and swords, chivalry and heroism, glory, honor, and worship.
Facebook thought I would enjoy this paean to medieval times, and for once they were right. (5.5 minutes)
So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport (Business Plus, 2012)
I can't resist a Cal Newport book. My first was How to Be a High School Superstar (published 2010), then Digital Minimalism (2019) then Deep Work (2016). If the advice in any of them is out of date, I haven't noticed anything major.
So Good They Can't Ignore You is—like the others—both strong and weak but filled with interesting ideas that are contrary to much conventional wisdom. This time Newport tackles the "follow your passion" philosophy of choosing a career that was popular when the book was written. I don't think the appeal of that idea has lessened, despite the great number of college graduates who thought they were doing just that but ended up with unmanageable debt and a job at Starbuck's.
Much of his thesis is just what used to be called common sense: The work you choose doesn't matter nearly as much as how you approach it; focus on what you can offer the world rather than what the world can offer you; work hard; cultivate excellence. If that sounds boring and Puritanical, read the book to find out how it turns out to be the secret to having a career that's enjoyable and personally fulfilling. Newport fleshes out the ideas nicely, if sometimes a bit too repetitively, with explanation, analysis, and real-world examples.
As with Newport's other books, this one is business-oriented, making it hard to apply directly to non-business careers like homemaking and rearing a family. In fact, part of me wonders if it's possible to do what's necessary to achieve the skills he expects without neglecting other important parts of life. However, it must be noted that the really intense effort he recommends works best when one is young, and leads to far more autonomy and flexibility than standard career paths. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
At present, the Kindle version of So Good They Can't Ignore You is currently on sale for $3.99. It's well worth the investment of your time and money, or a visit to your local library.
Not a meme, but part of an actual conversation a couple of decades ago. The second speaker was Porter, the first one of his co-workers.
I'm giving my computer files a much-needed spring summer cleaning, and came upon this, which I post here for my own future reference as much as anything. Unfortunately, I don't remember where it came from. The odds are it was from someone on Facebook, but that's the best I can do for now.
It's a clear, concise, visual guide to the seasons of the Church Year, as celebrated in the Episcopal Church and many other churches. The latter may differ in small details; I'm not familiar enough with them to say. But when I refer to the Church Year, this is what I'm talking about.
It's 88 degrees outside at the moment, which is actually quite moderate for mid-day, mid-July in Florida. Still, it's ten degrees cooler inside, and that makes all the difference between enjoying my work and wanting to spend the day by (or in) the pool, drinking iced tea.
That increase in productivity I owe in large measure to one of America's great entrepreneurs, Willis Carrier, the "Father of Air Conditioning."
That this post appears today was prompted less by the temperature than by a new article by Eric Schultz' at The Occasional CEO (link is to the article), including an excerpt from his book, Innovation on Tap: Stories of Entrepreneurship from The Cotton Gin to Broadway's "Hamilton" (link is to my review of the book).
Successful entrepreneurship requires (among other traits) knowledge, skill, grit, determination, inventiveness, connection—and being in the right place at the right time. Lucky for us, Willis Carrier had them all, including the last, as you will see if you read the short story of how the Carrier Engineering Corporation opened for business at what looked for all the world like the worst possible time—and stepped into a golden opportunity that would have been impossible even a month later.