Why Colonel Sartoris?

Allow me to explain the puzzling title. Colonel Sartoris is William Faulkner's greatest character. He exemplifies those values that his society cherishes, namely tradition, patriarchy, courtliness, and courage. Though modernity's slow march tries to strip him of these things, Sartoris continues to live as he always has, knowing that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." He seeks order in the honorable folkways and mores of his forbears. Let us not forget his example.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How Cactus can F up a Weedeater: July 1st

I was going to title this post "First Day on the Job," but that title was boring, and the title is actually more appropriate. Let me clarify, as well: I'm not working on a working cattle ranch. I am working for a company that is transforming a cattle ranch into a cattle ranch that has lakefront homes and residential amenities. That said, my duties include the following: fence mending, horse feeding, cow catching, clearing land, weed-eating, boat cleaning, boat parking, and a host of other duties. The temperature is in the upper 90's, and it's either dry as a bone or flooding. For those of y'all who have never been to the state, Texas encompasses a wide range of climates and topographies. The eastern portion of the state receives in excess of 35 inches of rain a year. Pine forests, creeks, and bayous cover East Texas. Starting at Dallas, and extending through Ft. Worth, rainfall continues to drop until you hit El Paso, at the farthest western point of the state, which is situated in a true desert. Where I'm working, in Graford, TX (two hours west of Dallas), is not a desert, but it has rocky soil and drought tolerant grasses and shrubs that can survive long dry spells. And many of these shrubs are, indeed, cacti.
What you see in the picture is prickly pear cactus. The fibrous, fleshy plant will explode in your face when you hit it with a weed-eater, and cactus juice and cactus spines ("stickers") will jump on every part of your body. The juice will harden and stick to you. I was very, very thankful for sunglasses, which were covered in dried cactus juice in an hour. It was a rough day of 8 hours of weedeating, under fencelines and by the road. But it was great to be back home and in a beautiful place.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back in Big D

I got a job at a ranch a couple hours west of Dallas.  I needed to start Monday/Tuesday, so I drove from Asheville, NC to Dallas, TX in one day.  And, yes, making the trip was the same Mabesmobile that has no air-conditioning.  Also accompanying me was my 90 pound golden retriever (Boomer), whose breath and general muskiness did very little to improve in-flight conditions in the cabin.  That said, I had Conway, Loretta, George, and Willie to keep me company on the way home, and I was actually surprised that I made it home at a decent hour.  I left at 8:15
 in Asheville, and made it to my parents' house by 10:20.  It was great to be back.
I was not surprised that Arkansas continues to suck.

Friday, June 27, 2008

District v. Heller

I wrote this in response to an asinine Washington Post article that I read. The Supreme Court struck down Washington, DC's absurd provision on handguns, and my homeboy Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion. The article that I read denigrated the way that the Justices went deciding the case, and I took great issue with that in the following response. It's probably over the top, but the article really angered me.

"Have y'all READ a Supreme Court opinion before? No one maintains that guns do not divide Americans' politically, or that they do not stand as a lightning rod of contention. The opinions, however, do not nearly measure up in vitriol to the opinion of US v. Virginia (1996), which Ginsburg authored. Go ahead and make fun of the Supreme Court for relying on the distinction between the "prefatory" clause and the "operative" clause. I mean, you're probably more learned, right? I mean, it's not like the primary author of the Constitution and the later author of the bulk of the Federalist Papers (which, by the way, were syndicated in FAR more papers than you will ever be) actually knew some sort of grammar right? Oh wait, he did. The Federalist Papers are replete with references to the classics. And by that, I don't mean Sting records, but instead the great tomes of the classical era that tried to make sense of democracy, like Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, and even Aeschylus' Oresteia. Madison's schooling in the classics and in English grammar (which is the CURRENCY of communication; our schools, both public and private, would do well to realize this) enabled him to leverage the intricacies of language as to specify exactly what he meant when he wrote the Constitution. In other words . . . the Founders were not dolts who misplaced a comma. Their expertise in law and literature demanded that they take care with the language with which the drew a blueprint of Americans' freedoms. The Supreme Court, and Antonin Scalia, definitely acts within his bounds by parsing language the way he does, and by anticipating objections of his opposition. THAT is the way that sound law is written. In District v. Heller, we received an articulate, cogent opinion that appealed both to grammatically obsessed intellectuals and to our gut instinct. Please, give them a break."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Moving In

Well, the move to Chapel Hill is complete, and everything has been unloaded into the house. Naturally, I expected to lose a few things. So far, I have discovered the following missing: Tony Rice's first CD, the Nashville Bluegrass Band's first CD, my favorite set of coasters, an etched lowball glass, and a book that I was plowing through. No more. I'm pessimistic that they'll turn up, but we'll see if they do as I continue to scale the Everest of crap that is my dining room at the moment.