If you want breathtaking landscapes, Kansas is the last place in North America to look. However, there are things worth seeing. I recently spent a couple hours at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, which has an impressive collection of aerospace memorabilia, including a SR-71 Blackbird in the lobby.
Unlike California, Kansas is probably the flattest and least photogenic of the fifty states, and I live in probably the flattest and least photogenic city there. Instead of mountains and lakes, I have to make do with taking pictures of grain elevators and defunct train stations, such as this one. Like most panoramas, it’s best viewed in full-screen mode. If you find the interactive panorama too dull, right-click on it and view it as a “small planet.”1
In lieu of actual content here are snapshots of four o-clocks and dianthus from my yard.
Some of these are sensible, and some are nonsense. Can you tell which are which?
… this time with panoramas. These look best in full-page view. (If you can’t see the panorama, try a different browser. These work for me in Vivaldi but not in Brave.)
Right-click on the image to bring up a menu with different view options. The “little planet” view is pleasantly surrealistic.
Lionel Shriver, via Amy Welborn:
… I was born in the wrong body. I am 5ft 2in. But inside? I feel tall. My soul is tall. I experience myself as 6ft 5in. And because a terrible mistake was made when I was born and ‘assigned’ as this short person, I’m going to force everyone to look me in the eyes by staring 15 inches over my head.
From my yard…
Congratulations to an English major who long ago lost his gruntle1 on fourteen years of The Port Stands at Your Elbow. It’s one of my daily stops and always worth reading. Before he decanted the port, Robbo wrote at The LLama Butchers. Both the mu.nu and blogspot editions of the LLBs survive (though the pictures and comments are gone) and reward browsing. See, for instance, this touching account of a purple dinosaur’s realization of his true nature, or this subtle sociological analysis of a neglected aspect of Tolkien’s world.
A few more pictures from around town.
The Great Books are more damaging than helpful when taught outside the traditions that produced most of them. I hate to admit this, as I love the classics, but if they are read as just a bunch of interesting books whose ideas are merely a smorgasbord from which everybody gets to pick what they want and interpret it as they see fit, the Great Books become little more than an excuse for unearned elitism, a closed mind, and the false belief that one is educated simply by having skimmed a bunch of old books.
In context, which is Christendom and the ancient civilizations it saved, the books have something worthy to tell us. This knowledge leads to humility rather than elitism, and destroys the canard that people nowadays are just so much more enlightened and intelligent than those old dead guys. Out of this context, the Great Books are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
(See also “The Sign of the Broken Sword.”)
Every day a Western leader publicly frets about civil unrest over food and energy shortages, despite the fact that the people have shown no signs of revolt. The reason the politicians keep talking about potential revolts is the same reason Washington is obsessing over fictional insurrections. These are people who think they deserve a revolution.
Recent pictures, this time not from my yard.
When the weather is crummy and I can’t get out on my bike, I get my daily exercise on a stationary bicycle. Furiously pedaling nowhere is every bit as exciting as it sounds, and there is no convenient place to put a book on the cycle, so I crank up the wireless headphones and listen to loud and fast music as I pedal. I’ve compiled a playlist with frenzied tunes by artists from Deep Purple to Onmyouza to Brave Combo, but sometimes I want to hear something different. Therefore, I assemble speedy medleys of traditional tunes. Here’s one I finished (i.e., got tired of fiddling with) this week. It’s a collection of Klezmer/Israeli tunes, arranged without the slightest concern for authenticity. Subtle it ain’t, but it is loud.
For the morbidly curious, the tunes are “Khosid Dance,” “Flaskadriga,” “Sha Shtil,” “Lechayim” and “Ot Azoy Neyt a Shayder.” This is probably not how they’re supposed to sound.
Two more lilies are blooming in my garden, Lilium henryi, above, and “Anastasia.” L. henryi is a Chinese species that is supposed to be indestructible. Mine is four feet tall this year, but it can get over six feet when established. The stem is thin and willowy, so if you live in a windy place like Kansas, it needs to be staked. Anastasia is an “orienpet,” a hybrid of oriental and trumpet species. The flower is large, over seven inches across. The plant is supposed to get up to six feet tall, but mine is barely three feet, making photography a bit awkward. I expect it will grow taller in coming years.
Coming soon: Sherri.