Monday, August 20, 2018

Quickies: For My Blog-Savvy Readers (Sticky Through August 20, 2018)

     Those who’ve been reading my crap for a while might remember Eternity Road, where I blogged before I moved here. I did so because I and my Webmaster had a falling-out, and I, being ignorant about blogging software, could not maintain the site by myself.

     However, I’ve begun to have misgivings about Blogger. Yes, it’s free of cost. Yes, it’s easy to use. And yes, I’ve been here for six years now and nothing terrible has happened.

     But it’s a Google platform. And Google, like Facebook and Twitter, has become increasingly hostile to opinion from conservatives and libertarians.

     So I’m thinking seriously about re-establishing Liberty’s Torch at a location less likely to turn on me without warning. But I’m as ignorant about blogging software as I was in 2012. So I need:

  1. Suggestions about Web hosts that are committed to freedom of expression;
  2. Ideas about what blogging engine I should use and what supports it requires;
  3. A Webmaster who knows his stuff and won’t ask a fortune for his services.

     Would any of my Gentle Readers care to contribute their thoughts...or offer their expertise?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Too Funny Not To Embed

     If you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s even better:

     I can’t believe I hadn’t seen that before today.

Softening the Rigidity of Political Discussions

I happened upon an article about contentious discussion, and how that might be handled so to avoid triggering screaming opposition.

It was not, as you might think, primarily about 'the feelz' and that kind of stuff. Instead, it was filled with useful advice about how people might guide discussion to permit ALL to feel understood, heard, and able to engage with those who might have widely differing viewpoints.

I was intrigued by it, and want to learn more about the techniques for managing discussions. Face it, we all have friends and relatives who viewpoints and voting patterns are divergent from ours. Too often, attempts to discuss the issues have devolved into hurt feelings and hardened attitudes.

I've noticed that the more I work to address issues in mild-mannered terms, both online and off, the more I get, in return, a more gentle and reasoned response. And - after all - isn't that the point?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

I Said it Before

But, here it is again - emotionally unstable women are better bed partners.

Not, however, necessarily better for the long haul.

Emotional Incontinence

     I forget where I first saw the above phrase, but it strikes me as immensely useful. It concisely describes one of the most important maladies of twenty-First Century America: the readiness and willingness to be “triggered” – i.e., to explode in indignation and sometimes worse – over an imagined slight. Sometimes the slight will have nothing to do with anything specific to the “triggered” individual. Indeed, that’s getting to be the case more often than not.

     Ace of Spades recently discoursed on this subject. Here’s the meat of his observations, also concisely phrased:

     The rule used to be, "If you lose your shit, you've lost the game."

     Now it's the exact opposite: "If you lose your shit and throw a tantrum, you win. Always. Because obviously the person who takes offense and flies into rage over nothing must have moral superiority over people who are calm and rational."

     This “lose your shit to win the game” phenomenon is particularly observable and pernicious in matters of verbal communication. Innumerable are the “trigger words” to which really tall and exceptionally whiny children react with a pretended fury. Previous generations of American adults would not have stood for it. Indeed, previous generations of American adults would not have exhibited it, save for a few emotionally disturbed types – and those persons would find that their behavior sharply limited their associations and interactions with others. They were about as socially acceptable as peeing on a friend’s living room floor, and for the same reason.

     Given the extreme value of personal restraint in social situations, especially those that are heterogeneous in composition, it’s critical that we understand how “lose your shit to win the game” has come to be an accepted practice. Ace’s observation above about the presumption that the “triggered” individual possesses some sort of moral altitude is the key.


     To be offended because someone has said something derogatory about oneself is normal. Indeed, it’s the reason for the development of some of Anglo-American culture’s more amusing social practices. Those practices have made the indirect insult a feature of a great deal of wit.

     Consider the following well-known exchange. George Bernard Shaw once wrote to Winston Churchill to announce the opening of his latest play and to send the statesman a pair of tickets for the opening night performance. He closed his missive with the following:

     “Bring a friend – if you have one.”

     Churchill, no slouch at riposting to such a sally, replied as follows:

     “Cannot possibly attend first night. Will attend second night – if there is one.”

     Though some have claimed that this exchange is fictional, it’s very much in the style of the two men to whom it’s attributed. More pertinent to my subject, it illustrates nicely how one can deliver a rapier thrust to another’s ego without saying anything openly offensive.

     This sort of humorous exchange of jabs is rare today. People are too ready to take offense, and to leap to the heights of umbrage, over the tiniest matters. Indeed, they find offense in the use of common words and idioms whose meanings have been pellucid for centuries.

     The reason for it, except in the most immature members of our species, is political: an attempt to employ collectivist guilt-tripping to score a political victory. Idioms that use “black” to denote ominousness or evil are interpreted as an affront against Negroes. Idioms that use “manly” to characterize various traditional virtues are interpreted as an affront against women. And God help the man who dares to call the behavior of some prancing poof of a homosexual “faggoty,” or who calls a heavily bearded “transwoman” garbed in a T-shirt, jeans, and workboots “he” before the creature has announced “her” “identification.”

     It does not matter that women, Negroes, homosexuals, et cetera enjoy extensive legal protections today, usually at the expense of men, Caucasians, heterosexuals, and other groups. It does not matter that the overwhelming majority of Americans go to great lengths to accommodate them in every imaginable context, including many from which they were once barred not by law but by general disdain for their proclivities. It does not matter than many of the accommodations made for previously “oppressed” groups have cost Americans their God-given right to freedom of association. What matters to the practitioners of “lose your shit to win the game” is winning the game – the political game, in which compelling normal persons to live and work in fear — to self-censor for fear of what might come out of their mouths if they fail to carefully screen each word against the dictates of “political correctness” — is the prize to be won.

     So widespread is this phenomenon that governments and giant corporations have bowed to it. One’s only safety against losing one’s livelihood, one’s social acceptability, and even one’s family, is not to care about any of it.


     I’m in a rather fortunate position. I owe no one anything, need no one’s approval to live as I do, and care nothing for the opinions of the perpetually “offended.” Thus I can say what I please – and I do. But I feel deeply for those who fear to express themselves in comfort, or who feel compelled to suppress their own, sincerely held opinions and convictions, owing to the pervasiveness of the “lose your shit to win the game” tactic. It doesn’t take a lot of the perpetually offended to create a climate of fear. The activist groups behind them are capable of making disproportionate amounts of noise and trouble for any selected target...if we persist in caring about the kerfuffles they whip up.

     It’s time to stop caring, and to react to their deliberately cultivated emotional incontinence the way Americans of an earlier time would have done:

“Put on your big-girl panties, whiner.”

     Though there are near-term risks, it’s the only long-term avenue for a return to a livable social order...if you want one, that is.

Why the Right Is So Against Censorship

Or, its sister, Not-Government-Censorship - that coordinated action that is orchestrated by the Left.

It has to do with reality. Yes, it would be so great to think that if you just manage to Shut the Fascists Up, they would go away. Of course, this assumes that everyone you are targeting IS actually a Nazi, rather than someone who is saying things you disagree with.

The thing is, censorship/near-equivalents don't work.

They didn't in Germany in the 1930's - people managed to print 'underground' newspapers and leaflets, communicate through non-approved amateur radio, and talk out of hearing of the official peoples. Those actions were a major influence on the course of the war.

They didn't in the USSR. The anti-Communists laboriously typed out their manuscripts - or wrote them longhand - and circulated them with mimeo, hand-copying, and other means. They had a major impact, before the copying machine was able to be used.

The radicals of the 1960's distributed handouts, found friendly printers to allow them to self-publish, and organized illegal gatherings to get out their message. For a while, they had a major impact on the politics of this nation.

It's even harder today. Trying to control the Internet, let alone message boards, alternative social media, informal gatherings online and offline, self-published books, and the Dark Web, is nearly impossible.

So, why are the Leftists making desperate attempts to stem the tide?

Because, in the minds of the people, they are losing.

What's the Left's response? Increase the pressure. Organize to illegally restrain trade (yes, that is an illegal thing) by pressuring businesses to refuse to sell to those they disagree with.

Like Alex Jones.

This will NOT end well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

For The Feast Of The Assumption

     Mary of Nazareth, the Virgin Mother of Jesus, is little mentioned in the Gospels after the years of Jesus’s childhood and maturation. Her last recorded statement occurs at Cana, during the wedding there: “They have no wine.” After that she is mentioned but no further words from her are recorded.

     Yet we know that she followed Jesus to Calvary and attended His execution at the foot of His cross. We also know that she lived several years more, largely without public engagement, and that the Apostles remained devoted to her. When she passed away her body was buried in the fashion customary in that time and place. However, shortly after her interment her grave was found empty.

     It was not until the early Nineteenth Century visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich that the Church elected to take Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven under consideration as a doctrine:

     In the night I saw several of the Apostles and holy women praying and singing in the little garden in front of the rock-tomb. A broad shaft of light came down from heaven to the rock, and I saw descending in it a triple-ringed glory of angels and spirits surrounding the appearance of Our Lord and of the shining soul of Mary. The appearance of Jesus Christ, whose wound-marks were streaming with light, moved down in front of her soul. Round the soul of Mary, in the innermost circle of the glory, I saw only little figures of children; in the midmost circle they appeared as six-year-old children; and in the outermost circle as grown-up youths. I could see only the faces clearly, all the rest I saw as shimmering figures of light. As this vision, becoming ever clearer, streamed down upon the rock, I saw a shining path opened and leading up to the heavenly Jerusalem. Then I saw the soul of the Blessed Virgin, which had been following the appearance of Jesus, pass in front of Him, and float down into the tomb. Soon afterwards I saw her soul, united to her transfigured body, rising out of the tomb far brighter and clearer, and ascending into the heavenly Jerusalem with Our Lord and with the whole glory. Thereupon all the radiance faded again, and the quiet starry sky covered the land.

     I do not know whether the Apostles and holy women praying before the tomb saw all this in the same manner, but I saw them looking upwards in adoration and amazement, or throwing themselves down full of awe with their faces to the ground. I saw, too, how several of those who were praying and singing by the Way of the Cross as they carried home the empty bier turned back with great reverence and devotion towards the light above the rock-tomb.

     Thus I did not see the Blessed Virgin die in the usual manner, nor did I see her go up to heaven; but I saw that first her soul and then her body were taken from the earth.

     [From The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Anne Catherine Emmerich]

     It is largely on the strength of this account by a highly regarded Catholic mystic that on November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary would henceforth be considered a dogma of the Church. It was the second proclamation of a dogma under the doctrine of papal infallibility in Church history. No other has occurred since then.


     The Catholic Church has had many detractors from other Christian denominations. Some of these have attacked the Church specifically on the matter of the Blessed Virgin, accusing the Church as treating Mary to a divine status that belongs to God alone. Catholics’ veneration of Mary as the highest of the saints, and the Church’s treatment of the critical events in her life as worthy of commemoration and celebration, have attracted negative reactions that range from demurral to outright condemnation. But nothing evokes as much derision or ire as the last two of what Catholics call the Glorious Mysteries: Mary’s bodily Assumption, and her Coronation a Queen of Heaven.

     It’s a mystery to me. A woman was found worthy to bear the Son of God made flesh. No other human woman was so graced. Surely Mary is entitled to special consideration on that basis alone. When we add her submission to the will of God as expressed to her by the Archangel Gabriel despite the terrible dangers to which it would expose her, her faithful devotion to her Son in the face of the unspeakable tragedy about which she had been forewarned, and her importance to the Apostles after Christ’s Ascension, dismissing her as “just another saint” becomes impossible.

     No, Mary is not divine. But she is special. Moreover, if anyone could validly claim to have her Son’s ear, it would be His mother. Thus Catholics rely upon the Blessed Mother for influence with Jesus, and – horror of horrors! – pray directly to her on those subjects with which a mother is most intimately concerned, that she might endorse them with her Divine offspring.

     And those who call the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon for daring to venerate Mary specially and look to her for guidance and intercession can kiss my bleeding Roman Catholic ass.


     It’s long been a frustration to me that so few of Mary’s statements are recorded in canonical Scripture. Surely she had things to say, especially to her Son, whose upbringing was principally her responsibility. But the little that we’ve been told is supplemented by the Emmerich visions and other not-quite-canonical works such as The Protoevangelion of Saint James.

     However, we can be absolutely certain of some things. From what we know of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, His Incarnation in the flesh, and Mary’s endlessly patient nature, we can be absolutely sure that whatever she might have said to Him, there’s one thing she definitely did not say:

“Wait till your father gets home!”

     And may God bless and keep you all.

Please Share the Graphic on This Site

Curmudgeonly & Skeptical.

Maybe that picture can replace some of the thousands of words we've been writing.

Conforming to Society vs. Solitary Independence

It's a trade-off.

America has always had both strains:

  • The original colonists, who traveled together, shared a common heritage and religious beliefs, and who ultimately settled in villages in New England - still the most conformist part of the country. Later immigrants traveled to America, and settled in communities with others who shared their language and culture, if not their hometown.
  • Those who traveled alone, or with a small family group. Those who were deported for crimes (or psuedo-crimes), and who occupied the lowest place on the social rung. Many of these, as soon as they could, hit the trail to find either the isolation of the forest/mountains, or who journeyed to the frontier to make their place in a newly settled community.
Man is both a social animal, and an independent organism. Many men could exist perfectly happy separate from other people for months, or even years, at a time. Many did.

Women, on the other hand, have much stronger need for connections to people beyond the family. I'm sure at least part of that is socialization before becoming an adult, but some very well might be genetic.

As women go, I'm an outlier. I'm perfectly happy by myself for extended time periods. Over the last few weeks, while my husband was undergoing medical treatment out of town, I seldom turned on the TV. I don't generally listen to radio or music of any kind, so I've been known to go for days without realizing that my hearing aids are not in.

I've been like this since childhood - my very sociable and chatty mother used to look at me as though I were a cuckoo bird nestling. I preferred my own company, although I had friends, and a brother who spent time with me.

That is simply NOT the norm anymore.

From 2 years old or so, if not sooner, most American children are 'socialized' in child care or nursery school. They are seldom given time alone, time to think, or quiet time. Even during nap time, many child care centers play 'relaxing music' throughout that resting period. Actual silence is rare.

I wouldn't be surprised if at least a part of the rise of autism diagnoses is the response of a natural introvert to the cacophony that surrounds him. Could the repetitive behaviors be a way of shutting out a loud and intrusive world?


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Family Connections in the Deep State

I would wait to post this, but I wanted to get it out ASAP.

It turns out that the Deep State has more inter-family connections than an Afghani clan.

The Enigma That is Trump

Trump is like a Rorschach test. How people see him depends on what their own psyche wants to see. Like the picture below:
If you see anything but an open book, you are perfectly normal.

For some, Trump is a loud, vulgar, intellectually deficient braggart.

For others, he is a 3-D chess player.

For me, he is loud, sometimes vulgar, and a braggart.

And, a superb poker player.

Now, I know poker players. My dad was one - a very good one. He added about another 50% of his salary, when he was active, scrounging up games around town.

For years, he made good money playing the not-very-bright hillbilly from WV. People let their prejudices do the talking, and they never realized that the guy with 2 months of high school was a killer at math and probabilities.

He sometimes let me hand around and watch. I earned my place fetching drinks and snacks, and emptying ashtrays. I learned a lot about people watching them take chances, bluff, and win and lose. I learned that you can't tell a good player by the way he dresses, how he talks, or even if he is a man or a woman. One of the better players I knew was a neighbor (female), married to a VERY bad player. Sometimes, she could barely win fast enough to keep ahead of his losses.

One of the players was Steve, an immigrant Greek. He earned his citizenship when he fought with the Americans (he'd been with the Resistance before that).

The best players are watchful. They might talk, but the purpose of that talk is to uncover the other players' thinking. Some of them act a little naive, or mentally slow (or drunk). Don't believe it - it's an act. If you're ever at a table and think to yourself, this is going to be a piece of cake to take their winnings, walk away.

VERY fast.

When Trump talks, and when he tweets, he talks kinda like a not very bright, inarticulate, jerk. Most of that is an act. From all accounts, in private, he is polite, well-spoken, and sharp as a tack. Although he depends on his lawyers and advisors to give him assistance in areas that he is less knowledgeable in, he is clearly comfortable being in charge.

He is willing to delegate. He is willing to accept a bit of a learning curve, as long as an employee is hard-working and loyal. But, for him, the buck stops at his desk.

That, for me, is one of the big arguments in favor of keeping him in the job. He is a grown-up, and knows how to take responsibility.

And, if he isn't a really good poker player, I'll eat my hat.

Snake people.

Politics, to put it simply, has overtaken society. In eras past, politics was limited mainly to the realm of the external. Ruling types would tell you how property would be bought and sold, where soldiers would be sent, and how much of your money would be taken… but they seldom told you what to think or how to speak. However, once they got into the habit of telling every child in their domain how to think and speak and run or walk – as they did with government-operated schools – they found one way after another to expand that dominance (which is like crack cocaine to ruling types) throughout the whole of the civilization.[1]
I remember a thought in, I think, a book called Why Americans Hate Politics. Not sure about that but the thought stuck with me wherever I encountered it. To wit, most Americans were content to cede to the elite a certain plenary authority over foreign policy but the deal was the elites stay out of the ordinary lives of the ordinary Joe. Even 25 years ago or thereabouts the author noted that the deal had been upended.

All manner of intervention and control are now in evidence to keep some schmuck from being “offended” or to address some bogus minority claim of past injury or present injustice (PIPI). For gosh sakes, now failing to use some ludicrous, made-up “pronoun” when addressing or referring to some sick, deluded, moronic twink is as much as your job or physical safety are worth.

And the snake people have barely gotten started.

Notes
[1] "The Separation of Righteousness and Politics ." By Paul Rosenberg, Free-Man’s Perspective, 8/14/18.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Envy: A Theory Of Insurrection

     I’ve long been intrigued, and somewhat baffled, by the emotion of envy: what it is, how it differs from jealousy and admiration, what evokes it and why, and how it affects relations in a complex modern society. It strikes me as one of the most important fuels for contemporary social disquiet. But as I think I understand it, I’m apparently immune to it myself. I think that’s why I can’t fathom its most important outcroppings. However, I do grasp what it can do to a sociopolitical order.


     In his landmark work Anarchy, State, and Utopia, philosopher Robert Nozick approaches envy analytically. For any given asset and any two persons Smith and Jones, there are four possible states of relation:

Condition # Smith Jones
1
has it
has it
2
has it
doesn’t have it
3
doesn’t have it
has it
4
doesn’t have it
doesn’t have it

     If Smith prefers condition #4 to condition #3, he envies Jones. If Jones prefers condition #4 to condition #2, he envies Smith. In other words, you are envious if you are willing to see someone deprived of something you lack, even if his deprivation would do you no objective good: i.e., no good other than the satisfaction of your envy.

     Joseph Sobran and others have provided a more compact formulation:

Envy is hatred of the good for being good.

     This parallels an old aphorism: “The envious man thinks that if his neighbor breaks a leg, then he will be able to walk better.”

     It should be plain that this is a corrosive influence, one that a functioning society cannot endure and must therefore control. The pseudonymous “John Galt,” in Dreams Come Due, commented on its social and political effect thus:

     As mankind has advanced through the centuries, envy has come to be almost as at home in prosperous nations as in impoverished ones. The fear of envy may explain why the countries with more freedom always seem to self-destruct through redistributive anarchy. Although envy is never absent from any society, it becomes most pervasive and counterproductive when it gains control of government and then of the “law,” which subsequently sets itself above the rights of property.

     So far, this is unchallengeable, even by persons who claim that any envy felt by the “disadvantaged” — provide whatever definition you like for this politically useful phantom – is fully justified. But “Galt” has more to say:

     As laws of envy multiply, so does the emotion, because like all forms of neurosis envy cannot be satisfied. [Emphasis added]

     Helmut Schoeck, in his book Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour, adds his concurrence:

     Envy is ineluctable, implacable and irreconcilable, is irritated by the slightest differences, is independent of the degree of inequality, appears in its worst form in social proximity or among near relations, provides the dynamic for every social revolution, yet cannot of itself produce any kind of coherent revolutionary programme.

     This makes uncontrolled envy both wholly destructive to the social order and incredibly useful to those who see an advantage in disrupting it.


     Let’s turn to the current social and political state of these United States of America in this year of Our Lord 2018. When we observe it from a height, what do we see?

  1. The richest and most secure (in aggregate) society in recorded history.
  2. The absence of unavoidable privation: i.e., no one in the U.S. lacks access to food, clothing, shelter, or emergency medical care unless it’s by his own choice and through his own deliberate action.
  3. An unprecedented degree of material comfort that spans all economic strata.
  4. A degree of political hostility unexampled since the Civil War.
  5. Disputants unwilling to discuss objective realities.
  6. A rising tide of violence and “private-sector censorship” aimed at preventing one side from stating its claims and its case.

     Observations 4, 5, and 6 clash dramatically with observations 1, 2, and 3. How can this be?

     A great part of the explanation lies in induced envy. America’s riches are not uniformly distributed. Smiths who lack what (notional) Joneses have, however irrelevant those things may be to those Smiths’ objective needs, are susceptible to envying the Joneses. More to the point, they can be taught to envy them. Various shibboleths have been employed in such campaigns. They’ve had a great deal of success.

     However, of itself induced envy is insufficient. It must be coupled to induced guilt: the materially better off must be made to feel that the assuagement of others’ envy is their moral responsibility. Such campaigns have also been successful. Their victims are often hard to treat, as psychologist Peter Breggin and others have noted. The problem can be exacerbated by “rubbing salt into the wound:” i.e., when some better-off persons openly pour contempt upon the less well off or their spokesmen. This common reaction to induced guilt, while understandable, is not laudable.

     Yet both such undertakings come up against am important obstacle: the economic preponderance, not of “plutocrats” or “captains of industry,” but of ordinary, middle-class Americans. These persons aren’t rich by contemporary American standards; nevertheless they enjoy a degree of luxury. They work, earn, and consume with ease and relative insouciance. They may want things they haven’t got, but it doesn’t occur to them to blame others for it. And they make up ninety percent of America’s people.

     Of the ten percent that remains:

  • Perhaps one percent are genuinely rich: net worth of $10 million or more.
  • Three to five percent are upper-middle-class, vying for inclusion in the ranks of the genuinely rich;
  • The remainder run the gamut from “not well off but paying their own bills” to “charges on public charity.”

     While a movement that commanded only four percent of a populace can, if sufficiently militant, induce the rest to accede to its demands, it hasn’t happened often. Moreover, Americans’ enduring belief in merit and effort as the source of all material things armors them against mere demands. Thus those in America who seek advantage for themselves by fomenting an insurrection powered by envy and unearned guilt have a tougher row to hoe than, for example, the Bolsheviks of early Twentieth Century Russia.


     Clearly, the engineers of social disquiet through envy and induced guilt have made visible strides. How? Where did they begin? What program did they follow? Is it possible to quell them before they succeed in overturning the American political order?

     Their campaign has been multigenerational. Some of it was conducted in plain sight – and some of it was germinated from otherwise benevolent intentions and wholesome efforts. The roots include certain assumptions persons of various economic levels have internalized and never bother to examine against the evidence. The thing deserves to be studied dispassionately. However, owing to the current malaise, few remain willing or able to make the effort required.

     More anon.

Legislation Alert - Immigration/Refugee Status

There's a bill in the works to block administration efforts to reduce immigration, by forcing Trump to admit favored categories of border-jumpers on asylum status. Please contact your Washington legislators to express your opinion, and link to this post on social media.

Away With the Masks!

Antifa has made that a hallmark of their public disruptions - they use masks or bandanas to keep them from being recognized. That's an essential part of their appeal - you can join in the more violent acts, without fearing that your employers or family will find out.

No more - HR 6054 would stop that cold.

Here is the full text.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations is the next stop on the path to law - it's been referred to that committee. Its members are:

Ex Oficio:
If you live in, or have connections to one of those states, you might want to urge them to vote it out of committee.

I'm not totally sold on Yet Another Law (YAW). It might easily be quicker, and more effective, if all of us pass local or state initiatives to unmask the perps. However, remember the essential rule of laws:
If a law exists to triumph over your enemy, don't be surprised when it is turned on you.
Speaking of laws/rules/actions being turned against you, most of us have been enjoying the various self-righteous sniping from Leftists unhappy that some Leftists - such as James Gunn and Sarah Jeong - that last one who wrote:
Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants 
and
Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins 
Ace of Spades has a post that details the self-serving standards of the Leftists.

And, yes, I think his conclusion - that we have to dig in and support ALL non-Leftists' freedom of speech, lest we enable them to work their way through all of the alternative outlets, from the most offensive, to - finally - us.

Getting real.

America is ruled by a tiny percentage of people who constitute a treasonous class. These people have the money to purchase the government, the media, and the economics profession that shills for them. This greedy traitorous interest group must be dealt with or the United States of America and the entirety of its peoples are lost.[1]
Whatever happens politically and economically in this country bears no relation to common sense and the interests of the American people. Virtually every last decision point that is ever reached involves an option that would arguably vindicate common sense and those interests or vindicate the interests of the ultra-left, Muslims, foreigners, or the war party.

For example, it’s clear that a nation of some 330,000,000 people (including some 40,000,000 legal and illegal immigrants) has no need whatsoever for more immigrants, unless they happen to have a cure for cancer or erectile dysfunction. If Chinese are crowding out Americans from university STEM slots, the solution is to cut the fat from universities that requires astronomical tuition fees. “Diversity coordinators” making over $100,000 can safely be advised to see alternate employment and carpenters engaged in building crying rooms can be given more meaningful work.

All immigration needs to be shut down and the borders sealed. Sealed, not “controlled.” Troops overseas defending other nation’s borders – or violating them – need to be brought home and deployed on our own borders. But . . . NFW. That option doesn’t stand a chance of implementation. No. What will issue from the mouths of the beautiful people are maddening obfuscations like our need for “comprehensive immigration law reform,” “path to citizenship,” and “immigrants make a contribution.”

So what should obviously be done is unmentionable and every manner of mindless garbage gushes forth and the nation once again gets all wheels stuck in soft mud. Action forestalled; paralysis and avoidance embraced.

All overseen by the treasonous class. If you ask any one of them to hold out two hands they’ll stick out one hand with the palm down and the other with the palm up. Salvation is never an option with them. Only suffocating propaganda, weakness, exploitation, surrender, war, and betrayal.

Notes
[1] "Paul Craig Roberts: Who Does America Really Belong To?" By Paul Craig Roberts, ZeroHedge, 8/2/18.

Dirty war on whom exactly?

"Over 100 Newspapers Collude To Decry Trump's 'Dirty War On The Free Press.'"
Anybody besides me notice the “dirty war” on patriots and on white people?

This is deadly serious stuff. The American public square is diseased and our political elite are scum.

Bonus: Enjoy some intelligent and funny discussion between Sunny Lohman and Doug LNU on government’s war on our independent media here: "#39 The Silencing of Alex Jones and InfoWars."

Highly recommended. Really intelligent people and they never fail to generate entertaining content.

E.g., Doug on Islamophobia: “I’m not worried about the backlash [against Muslims]. I’m worried about the lash [of Muslims].”

If you can support them financially . . . .

Sunday, August 12, 2018

One Coin, Two Faces: A Sunday Rumination

     Among the greatest challenges of life is the struggle, when one is beset by tragedy, to remember to be grateful. Loss tends to make one close in upon oneself. Grief, especially, has an emotionally isolating effect. These effects can even cause one to forget what it is one is grieving about.

     We must therefore classify the grief that follows loss as a selfish emotion. It seems counter-intuitive, but a dispassionate examination of the phenomenon confirms that assessment. Consider, for example, the oft-heard wail of the recent widow: “He was everything to me. How am I to go on without him?”

     This is not a condemnation of grief. It’s built into our psyches because we need it. Nearly everyone who ever lives will suffer grief at some point – and nearly everyone who ever lives will emerge from it, probably to a state of relative peace. For after grief has passed, gratitude can return, and with it a perspective we seldom associate with grief: humility.

     Coarsely stated, humility is the recognition that “it’s not all about me.”


     Allow me to tell you a true story.

     Jack was an Irish immigrant to these shores. He’d come here as a married adult, with a wife and two children. Like many Americans of Irish descent, he was a Catholic. He and his wife raised their children to be Catholics as well.

     Shortly after their arrival in America, Jack ‘s wife presented him with a third child: his daughter Meghan. Meghan grew to become a bright and beautiful young woman. She remained a practicing Catholic lifelong. Going away to college didn’t change that at all.

     It did change one thing: she met, fell in love with, and agreed to marry a young American of Irish descent: a Protestant. When she brought that bit of news home to Jack, he was beyond furious. He absolutely forbade the match. When she informed him that the wedding had been scheduled and pleaded with him to escort her down the aisle in traditional fashion, he refused.

     Meghan and Jack never spoke again.

     Some years later, after Meghan and her husband had relocated to California for his job, Jack suffered a severe heart attack. His prospects for survival were bleak; his doctor didn’t think he’d make it through that night. Jack’s wife called Meghan to give her the news. She was horrified that her father might depart this world while the two were still estranged. She immediately boarded a red-eye flight to Newark, the only one she could get on short notice. At Newark airport she rented a car and, despite the lateness of the hour, immediately headed back to Long Island.

     She never made it. On the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, a drunk driver heading the other way crossed the median and killed her.

     Jack did recover from his heart attack, but he never recovered from having turned Meghan aside, nor from losing her before they could reconcile. To the end of his life he was a broken man.

     Incidentally, shortly after they’d relocated to California – well before Jack’s heart attack — Meghan’s husband became a Catholic.


     It is our shortfall in humility that leads us to do what Jack did. It is our recognition that we should be grateful for what we have – everything we have, from our bodies to our loved ones and friends to the most frivolous of our possessions – that makes it possible to recover from a grief such as his. His realization that he had created the very situation over which he grieved by asserting the primacy of his preferences over Meghan’s choice of a spouse was a classic failure of humility: a refusal to be grateful for his daughter and happy that she had found love.

     Gratitude is not possible without humility. Humility automatically engenders gratitude for our blessings. Without those paired virtues, the endless losses and lesser tragedies of life can immure us in a grief that never ends.

     We cannot feel loss without first having known value: the value we placed in the person or thing we’ve lost. It can be hard, in the throes of grief, to remember that. But to value something other than ourselves is an implicit recognition that “it’s not all about me.” When the worst has passed and we are able once again to think of the lost person or thing as it was, gratitude for the blessing of having known and enjoyed that value can return.

     And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
     And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
     And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
     While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
     While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
     While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
     And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
     Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
     And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

     [Job 1:13-21]

     May God bless and keep you all.

Doomed. Doomed, I say.

. . . [T]he Syrian revolution, . . . began seven years ago with the dream of changing Syria from a country governed by a dictatorial, sectarian, corrupt regime to a country in which the principles of citizenship, justice and the rule of law prevail and fundamental freedoms are respected as an issue above the Constitution.[1]
But, woe and alas, Pilgrims:
The treachery of the Syrian revolution came from many conflicting parties that did not have anything in common.[2]
Well, whoa there. Halt, stop, desist, cease, and pause. Not to be a killjoy, but I just have to point out that if the people who are going to make this glorious revolution have nothing in common then . . . that there’s probably a “revolution” that better not get started in the first place, amirite?

And . . . since one of the parties to this revolution, the United States government, has precisely zero respect for citizenship, justice, the rule of law, and fundamental freedoms and is waging war against Syria in violation of its own Constitution and the U.N. Charter, it’s in no position to lecture anyone on the ideal polity anywhere, let alone play at regime change in Syria, which modest enterprise has now led to the death of over 500,000 Syrians and the physical devastation of the country. (That awful ophthalmologist and his supporters! They fought back when they were invaded!)

Wouldn’t that clown car of a U.S. government best be considered radioactive for purposes of any kind of a joint enterprise instead of mewling about a “revolution betrayed”?

Notes
[1] "Syria: The Revolution Betrayed." By Wael al Sawah The Syrian Observer, 7/30/18.
[2] Id.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Infinite white tolerance for marginalization?

And what on earth makes anyone believe that a population constantly demonized as brutal and racist and whose achievements are assailed as the products of exploitation and violence would stand aside, allowing itself to be marginalized through immigration? Should it not be fairly obvious that at some point those horrible white people in America would simply choose to put a stop to the nation’s open-borders policies which have transformed the country from immigrants being a five percent share of the population in the 1970s to a current 14 percent share?
New amigos.
And:
That [leftists' insulting the white majority] won’t continue when idiocy like intersectionality — white people are allowed to have an opinion only after people of other races have had their say, and only after going through a progression prioritizing the disabled over the abled, homosexual before straight, and transgendered before, er, gendered — or Critical Race Theory “black people can’t be racist” claptrap like that espoused by [Ezinne] Ukoha is the order of the day on the Left.
"A Most Expected Backlash." By Scott Hay, American Spectator, 8/10/18.

Soon. Peak stupidity.

Alas, this [Russian] sanctions gambit may lead to serious consequences — a nearly unthinkable outcome in our culture of Anything-Goes-and-Nothing-Matters.[1]
The Ramirez cartoon at ZeroHedge is superb. Sanity and limited, representative government are all but driven from the field here at home thanks to the revolutionary ultra-left and pusillanimous, grasping Republicans but it is a distant, malevolent foreign power intent on world domination that is the author of our woes. "Only in America,” as Harry Golden used to say.

Notes
[1] "Jim Kunstler Rages At America's 'Anything-Goes-And- Nothing-Matters' Society." By James Howard Kunstler, ZeroHedge, 8/10/18 (formatting removed).

Friday, August 10, 2018

Why Envy is Useless

I hadn't heard this statistic (and, of course, all stats are somewhat suspect). But, this is Money magazine, so, perhaps, at least somewhat true.
It takes the average recipient of an inheritance 19 days until they buy a new car.
Cars, of course, are diminishing assets. Their value goes down over time.

But, Envy is the lubricant of the Leftist Class. Without it, they have nothing (with it, they have ALMOST nothing).

Folks, it's gonna be a long, hard fight. The Leftists are deeply embedded in our society, particularly in education. Witness this young lady, who - even though it cost her a good GPA - refused to knuckle under. The video is long, but worth it.

I know the excuses for not acting.

  • I need my job
  • I can't risk openly opposing SJWs and Leftists
  • My kids will suffer
  • The teachers will retaliate on my kids
  • My wife's job will be threatened
  • It's only ___ years until I retire
  • I have to attend the diversity workshop - it's mandatory
  • What could I really gain by speaking up?
  • Too bad about _________, but I'd only suffer the same fate if I defended him
  • I'm just one person
And, a whole lot more.

We should not be advising others to put their heads down and go along. We should support them - socially, vocationally, openly, and - if necessary - financially. Most people don't have the heart to go it alone. They need to know that those whose respect they value have their back.

If not now, when?


To give you some courage, here's some links. Why are so many of these not real people?

Because the Real People tend not to survive.

The drill instructor from Full Metal Jacket

Chesty Puller

Braveheart Freedom Speech

OK, this is just for fun - to lighten your day, and remind you - we CAN win! It starts slowly, and builds to the gradual realization that HRC will NEVER be President!

Oooh, and - I drink the tears of my enemies! - it's STILL funny to see them go nuts!

And, lastly, the inimitable Winnie.

Ethically Challenged

...yet, smugly Signaling Virtue.

Too 'good' to work for ICE.

But sufficiently 'nuanced' to work for Human-Rights-Abusing China.


Boiling It Down

     You can ponder the Twenty-First Century American milieu for a whole year. You can turn it this way and that, studying it from every possible angle. You can contemplate its shadow by the light of Sun and Moon. You can even hold it up to a funhouse mirror and muse over the images therein.

     You can do all these things, yet never arrive at a worthwhile degree of comprehension of our social malaise, unless you admit one critical fact to yourself. However, to maintain and heighten the dramatic tension, I shall delay the disclosure of that fact for few paragraphs. The better to reel you in with, my dears.


     We have our problems, as individuals. It’s in the nature of things. I’m a novelist whose novel under construction is fighting him with the ferocity of a UFC champion. This past week I struggled to rid myself of a burrower wasp infestation. Just now I’m dealing with a half-dislocated jaw – no, I wasn’t punched in the face; I got it from yawning too widely — that makes it painful to eat. Those are my current troubles. I’m sure you have a few of your own.

     But I cope. I’m sure you do, too. That’s what Americans do. It’s our defining characteristic. Throw anything at us – a natural disaster; a global depression; a world war; the Yankees being swept by the Red Sox – and we deal with it. Usually we come out stronger, richer, and happier than before.

     What spoils the tenor of our lives isn’t our individual problems. It’s our all-encompassing politics. And politics is the province of that lowest of the low of our species, the politician.


     The late, great Henry Louis Mencken, for many years the foremost opinion-editorialist in America, was contemptuous of politics in its entirety. Yes, he wrote about it – dismissively. He had reasons. He knew far too many persons who had or sought political altitude. He told many a story about them. Here’s one, which appears in A Mencken Chrestomathy:

     One night out in the Bible country, after the hullabaloo of the day was over, I went into [an unnamed presidential candidate’s] private car along with another newspaper reporter, and we sat down to gabble with him. This other reporter, a faithful member of the candidate’s own party, began to upbraid him, at first very gently, for letting off so much hokum. What did he mean by making promises that no human being on this earth, and not many of the angels in Heaven, could ever hope to carry out? In particular, what was his idea in trying to work off all those preposterous bile-beans and snake-oils on the poor farmers, a class of men who had been fooled and rooked by every fresh wave of politicians since Apostolic times? Did he really believe that the Utopia he had begun so fervently to preach would ever come to pass? Did he honestly think that farmers, as a body, would ever see all their rosy dreams come true, or that the sharecroppers in their lower ranks would ever be more than a hop, skip, and jump from starvation?

     The candidate thought a while, took a long swallow of the coffin-varnish he carried with him, and then replied that he answer in every case was no. He was well aware, he said, that the plight of the farmers was intrinsically hopeless, and would probably continue so, despite doles from the Treasury, for centuries to come. He had no notion that anything could be done about it by merely human means, and certainly not by political means; it would take a new Moses, and a whole series of miracles. “But you forget, Mr. Blank,” he concluded sadly, “that our agreement in the premisses must remain purely personal. You are not a candidate for President of the United States. I am.

     As we left him his interlocutor, a gentleman grown gray in Washington and long ago lost to every decency, pointed the moral of the episode. “In politics,” he said, “man must learn to rise above principle.” Then he drove it in with another: “When the water reaches the upper deck,” he said, “follow the rats.”

     The episode of which Mencken writes took place early in the Twentieth Century. From my own observations, I could never argue that politicians have improved in any respect. Quite the reverse.


     The man who aspires to political office has two and only two arrows in his quiver:

  1. Promises;
  2. Fear.

     Don’t let that slip past you. I’ve just told you exactly what you need to know about politics and politicians, now and forevermore. If you had a dim glimpse of it before this, now it should be clear.

     We want things. We want to acquire them at the lowest possible cost in money, effort, and time. And we fear: death, disease, madness, impoverishment, disfigurement, enfeeblement, failure, isolation, and losing our glasses. We want those fears alleviated. These vulnerabilities in the human psyche, coupled to a desire to believe that cheap and easy solutions to our wants and fears must exist somewhere, make us susceptible to the claims of politicians.

     Yet there is this:

Politicians cannot solve any human problem.

     Of course they’ll tell you otherwise. What else could they do to gain your support? They’ll tax the outer limits of human credulity to its breaking point long before they acquire the power to reach into your wallet. To do so, they’ll engender fears, or amplify fears that already exist, and make promises.

     The fears will be of other people. The promises will be to satisfy our wants by taking our money and buying goods and services provided by others. Think about that for a moment before you continue on.


     A couple of days ago, I posted a brief piece about a (reasonably) smart guy who said a stupid and arrogant thing. Now, I would never claim that I’ve never said anything arrogantly stupid. I’m 66 years old, and you may take it as written in stone that if there’s some ceiling atop the heights of arrogant stupidity reachable by human effort, I’ve scrawled my initials on it. So while I’ll refrain from providing details, I’ll allow that I’ve been there and done that.

     In all probability, you’ve been there too. Keep that in mind.

     We are fallible. We are afflicted by a will to believe what sounds good – especially about ourselves – and to disbelieve what sounds bad – again, especially about ourselves. These traits lead us into the most important error one can make, which is the belief that what we want can be had, what we fear can be averted, without paying the associated price.

     Let’s have a little Heinlein on the subject:

     “Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain....The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion...and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself--ultimate cost for perfect value.” [From Starship Troopers]

     Our specifically political error is to believe what politicians tell us: that is, that they can and will fulfill our wants and dispel our fears, with no need for expense or effort from us except for supporting them. Go back and reread that Mencken excerpt for reinforcement.


     A side note: A few years ago, a dear friend named Lynn Chesnut wrote an essay about “Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate.” Lynn’s central point was that the purpose of broadcast journalism, in which I would include all forms of unidirectional transmission of “news” and opinion, is not to provide us with the objective facts about real events. It is to propagandize on behalf of some politician or political agenda.

     Here, for me, is the most striking snippet of Lynn’s piece:

     When the Constitution was written communication from one end of the country to the other could take weeks. Our republic is designed to work admirably if most of the electorate is not up to date on every cause celebre. Leave aside traffic and weather, and broadcast journalism essentially never tells you anything that you need to know on a real-time basis.

     There you have it, Gentle Reader: an insight of incomparable penetration, diamond-hard and diamond bright. Lynn grasped that the function of unidirectional “journalism” is political rather than educational. He saw through the gauze curtain protecting the “newscaster” and glimpsed the politician standing behind it. While his orientation was conservative, his insight applies equally well to “news” outlets that appear biased toward supposedly conservative politicians and their agendas.


     Now, you who have read this far might have been saying to yourselves that “it’s just Fran’s old rant again; he’s telling us nothing new.” And so far, you would be correct. None of the above is new, even in having issued from my pen. But how much of what anyone really needs to know is genuinely new? Aren’t human problems the consequence of human nature – of the existence of Mankind itself? If that’s the case, why should we expect that some atavistic genius laboring in the shadows or in some isolated tower, would some day emerge and present us with the critical truth that would fulfill our wants and dispel our fears? Isn’t that just another version of the political mirage?

     Pause here and take a deep breath, Gentle Reader. Make sure you’re securely seated. Because here comes the haymaker I promised at the outset of this tirade.

YOU ARE THE PROBLEM YOU SEEK TO SOLVE.

     Your desire to have what you want at little cost or effort, and your desire to believe that what you fear, including what you’ve been made to fear by political forces and their allies, can be beaten back by wiser and more competent others: these are the problems.

     It’s a lie from first to last. Moreover, we should have known it at the outset. What politician has ever done anything by himself?

What politician has ever improved farm productivity or profitability by himself?
What politician has ever devised an important new technology by himself?
What politician has ever beaten back an invading horde by himself?

     They cannot do what they promise. Worse, the fears they attempt to inflame, when they’re real, are almost always of ourselves or others like us. That which we truly ought to fear, only we can defeat – as men of good will and voluntary associations thereof.

     We’ve been there ten thousand times. Our gullibility guarantees that we’ll be there ten thousand times more. Only by denying politicians the use of our credulity can we armor ourselves against them. This is the challenge of our age, for there is nothing more provably lethal than political power.

     And we keep sacrificing ever more of our freedom to it.


     To close, a few words about Donald Trump and his Administration.

     First, I was dubious about Trump during his campaign. Like many others, I doubted his honesty and felt his temperament was wrong for public office. Since his ascendancy I’ve come to believe otherwise. Trump is doing, at least at the moment, what he promised to do and must be done: He’s chipping away at the edifice of federal power, and so is incrementally serving the cause of freedom.

     Watch him. He wasn’t a politician before his election. Now he is one. Despite his achievements in other realms, he could prove as susceptible to the adulation, the incentives embedded in political office, and the desire to believe himself a savior that has corrupted so many of his predecessors.

     No one should be trusted with power over others. He who attains high office and uses it wisely, as Donald Trump is doing today, can also wield it foolishly...and if the past is any indication, the longer he’s allowed to wield power, the more likely his corruption, by self or others, will become.

     Anyone can make promises. Only a fool swallows them without hard evidence. There was one Cincinnatus. There might never be another. Even George Washington succumbed.

     Trust in God and the power He has placed in your mind and hands. All else is folly.

True Things About Exhibits

Here.

A leetle perspective, professor, svp.

Francis Marx:

It seems that Trump plays the deep state. A strategy we will watch to see if it works. Everyone judges him but they are not in that hot seat.

Cassander:

So true. Guy has a seriously tough job, fighting off the Deep State, the GOPe, the Left, the LGBTs, the Pussy Hats, the Russians, the Chinese, Syria, Iran, the FBI, the DOJ, Rosenstein, Strzok, Brennan, Clapper, MI6, Mueller, Schifty, Schumer, Pelosi, the NYT, Wapo, CNN and the rest of the MSM while he's trying to break 3% GDP and Make America Great Again. And all he has is us Deplorables behind him!

Comments on "Jim Kunstler Rages At America's 'Anything-Goes-And- Nothing-Matters' Society." By James Howard Kunstler, ZeroHedge, 8/10/18.

Pearls of expression.

This year, new hammer blows are following on the Reagan-Thatcher-spawned era of revived Anglo-American global leadership and domination.

The British themselves have palpably failed to cave out any secure or even plausible economic prospects for themselves in the world once they leave the EU. Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya all remain wrecked societies shattered by the repeated air strikes that Western compassion and reverence for human rights and democracy have visited upon them.[1]

I’m not sure that Reagan and Thatcher had any desire to dominate the world or lead anyone anywhere in particular. They were simply committed to the notion that government and unions come packaged with their own pathologies. And that free markets and free men got better, though hardly perfect results. That wild notion is presently known as neo-liberalism if I understand that useless term. AKA common sense, let it be said. Attica!!

The Soviet Union struck Reagan as extraordinarily pathological, not to mention that he had had direct experience with the armies of commie pukes in the Screen Actors Guild and elsewhere in Hollywood.

It's a good thing that there aren't any more scum bag ultra-leftist traitors in Hollywood any more. Otherwise we'd have movies being made that are repulsive, moronic, hostile to common sense and common decency, and an attack on all that our ancestors stood for and built.

But apart from that (and I have gone far afield from the modest point Mr. Sieff was making), it’s a witty observation.

Notes
[1] "The Death Of US And UK Neo-Colonialism." By Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation, ZeroHedge, 8/6/18.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Unspoken Prejudice - Classism

The Elites in America are quick to trash those Whites who are lower on the social scale than they are. This article discusses the widespread acceptance of that bias, and how it affects politics.


A Few More Notes On Fiction

     To Gentle Readers who’ve wondered where the usual political puffery has wandered off to: I can’t manage it at the moment. The political trends are a strange mix of Olympian highs and Stygian lows. This causes me to think of Death Valley, where the observed high temperatures (around 140 degrees Fahrenheit) and the observed low temperatures (around -20 degrees Fahrenheit) would, in some persons’ minds, mean that the average temperature there is a comfy 60 degrees. Heavy sigh. If only it were that way.


     Among the things many a fledgling writer finds challenging is the creation of a believable conflict between two characters he’s conceived to be essentially decent. The writer is torn because both characters emerged from his mind. He thinks of them as decent because he thinks of himself as decent, and he has imbued his characters with his moral and behavioral precepts. How could such persons come to blows?

     It’s not automatic, to be sure. But there is a technique for it: give them different assumptions about what has happened, and different persons or positions to defend.

     Here’s an example: Smith, a grammar school principal, has received reports from Johnny Davis’s teacher that Johnny is rude and disruptive, and that this has affected Johnny’s scholastic progress. But Mrs. Davis has heard a different story – from Johnny himself, of course. She’s heard that the teacher is prejudiced against Johnny, treats him harshly, and refuses to answer his questions about the classwork. What will happen at the scheduled meeting between Smith and Mrs. Davis? Isn’t a serious clash between them foreordained and entirely understandable, “decent” though they both are?

     Creating situations in which two (or more) characters have radically different views of the same events and enveloping context comes naturally...if you observe the way it happens in real life. And because of the partiality and defensiveness of those who narrate such occasions to others, it happens in real life more often than it should.


     One of the perils of series reading, which might not be as clear to series writers as it should be, is what can happen when one element in a series becomes unavailable.

     Most series are founded on the perpetuation of a protagonist or a small group thereof. The protagonist has a string of adventures, typically one per book, and typically of escalating seriousness. Tom Clancy’s series featuring Jack Ryan is a good example: as Ryan’s altitude in the federal government increases, so do the risks attending the crises he must navigate, until we find him at last facing the descent of a nuclear weapon toward Washington D.C. When the writer finds that he can no longer raise the stakes credibly, it’s wise to retire the character and the series.

     But in this sort of series the missing element in the middle is a problem of consequence. The reader has followed the protagonist through M of N volumes. Upon reaching for the “next” one, his hand lands on M+2. He starts to read...and discovers that he’s lost the thread of the series. Oops! Must locate volume M+1 at once! But to his chagrin, he can’t find it.

     I’ve had that experience with series from several other writers. It’s not a good thing, Gentle Reader. If you’ve had it yourself, you’ll know what I mean.

     The eBook provides a solution, inasmuch as it need never go out of print. But several writers of note have disdained to reissue their works in eBook form – or worse, have reissued only parts of series. This is unwise. It can engender a lot of ill will from reader to writer. Considering how close to effortless Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other eBook publishers have made the process, it’s also avoidable.

     Another version of this is the variant-priced series element. If element M+1 is available but extortionately priced, many a reader’s hackles will rise. I’ve had that experience too: the first M volumes are available for $2.99 or $3.99 each, and M+2 through N have similar prices, but M+1 is priced at $12.99 or higher. Why on Earth? I can’t imagine.

     These are entirely avoidable ways to lose readers and reader loyalty. Verbum sat sapienti, favorite series writers of mine!


     There’s a lively discussion under way at Mad Genius Club — no, I’m not a member, though I comment there now and then – concerning allowable vocabulary in fiction. It started from a set of observations by Sarah Hoyt about what makes a book “saleable.”

     I was pleased to see that most of those contributing to this little sub-discussion share my dislike of the dumbing-down trend that’s afflicted fiction. Editors at conventional publishers have adopted a conformant attitude: “Write for an eighth-grader!” the smart ones will tell you. (The less smart ones will tell you to write for a fifth-grader.) And as you can probably imagine, it drives me absolutely nuts.

     Dislike of the “vocabulary show-off,” I understand. I don’t care for the species of retromingent onager who festoons his books with a rebarbative congeries of obfuscations and anfractuosities any more than I like “literary” pretentiousness and those who luxuriate in it instead of telling actual stories. But I maintain that there have been changes as regards readers’ (and editors’) attitudes that aren't for the better.

     If you’ve read B. R. Myers’s A Reader’s Manifesto, you might recall him lamenting the disappearance of “good Mandarin writing” in the fashion of Woolf and Joyce. I feel similarly – but in this connection, I lament even more wistfully the decline in educational standards and the acceptance of that decline by just about everyone. The most important aspect of that decline, as usual, goes all but unremarked. It’s the difference between two attitudes: “I don’t know that word, so I’ll improve my vocabulary by looking it up” versus “What right does he have to use a word I don’t know?”

     Unfortunately, editors have elected to accept readers’ educational and characterological decline as unopposable. Rather than maintaining their own standards, they’ve agreed to follow the downslope toward a de facto illiteracy in which readers will tolerate only the simplest prose, thus rendering the wealth of centuries inaccessible. Present trends continuing, comic books will be soon filled with pictures alone; those irritating “word bubbles” will have softly and silently vanished away.

     I am put in mind of Lewis Carroll’s Bellman:

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land.
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

     ...and not in a good way, mind you.


     Yes, Experienced is coming along. Slowly, that is. Please be patient with me, as this book has proved as difficult to write as was Innocents, and for much the same reason. But I’ll finish it, and it will probably become available before the New Year is upon us. Until then, keep the faith. Don’t take any wooden characters.