Sunday, February 23, 2020

Thinking Outside The Box Dept.

     Great God in heaven, what a morning this is proving to be! First the Wall Street Journal tells us that “avocadoes are violent,” and now we have this:

     After decades of effort and untold millions invested in the search for an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, the disease remains unchecked and rampant. Most recently, the New York Times reported that researchers declared defeat after the failure of yet another experimental drug designed to fight the formation of the disease’s signature amyloid plaque in the brain.

     But according to Shlomi Raz, CEO and founder of biomedical startup, Eleusis, the problem with conventional, single-target approaches to Alzheimer’s is that they don’t take into account the multiple dysregulated processes in the disease’s complex pathobiology.

     And Raz’s company’s approach to the disease is anything but conventional.

     Eleusis is investigating the anti-inflammatory potential of psychedelics as medicines, specifically the application of sub-perceptual doses of LSD in halting the progression of Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest detectable stage.

     “Forbes: Capitalist Tool!” indeed.

     I assume a “sub-perceptual” dose would not trigger the hallucinations and fantasies characteristic of an acid trip...but it’s just an assumption. The brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers could react in a completely different fashion. But considering the disorientation and terror that Alzheimer’s patients are known to experience, the trip might prove salutary anyway. Only one way to find out, as they say.

You’re Not Crazy, It’s The Rest Of The World Dept.

     This might not strike you as news, but there are...persons, many of them walking about unconfined and unsupervised, who aren’t quite aligned with reality as we know it. Most don’t commit horrific crimes, or defraud millions of people, or even run for office. Yet to encounter one of them can be a jarring experience.

     As I avoid other people almost as assiduously as I skirt open cesspools, my typical day is free of such occurrences. However, as a news junkie I’m at perpetual risk of encountering a story about one of them, possibly including an unguarded statement or two the reporter thought colorful. Mostly I’m braced for such collisions, but to find one in the Wall Street Journal, of all places, threw me for a loop:

     “You can’t be vegan if you eat avocados,” said a teenage brother to his sister in a family that I know. “Avocados are violent.”

     That boy was left unnamed for good and sufficient reasons. He probably attends a government-run school. Possibly even the one that confines your spratlings several hours per day. And his parents might be neighbors to you or someone you love. Think about it.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Easy Way

     Good morning, Gentle Reader. Yes, I took yesterday off and said nothing about it. However, I hadn’t intended to take yesterday off. In fact, I only realized that I was doing so when 7:00 PM rolled around, I was comfortably ensconced in front of the Rangers / Hurricanes game, and realized that I still hadn’t written the day’s tirade. These things do happen.

     Anyway, before I light off on the day’s serious subject, a few words about blogging and the history thereof. Blogs – originally, “weblogs” – emerged shortly after Web programmers discovered the Common Gateway Interface (CGI), which made it possible to craft a Website that accepts reader input. A few people immediately made use of the original Blogspot facility (since taken over by Google), Wordpress and other blogging-software companies got into the act, and a phenomenon was born. At its peak approximately 60 million blogs festooned the Web. Not long after that, the great majority of blog proprietors discovered that they had little inclination to write and little to say that anyone else cared to read.

     There are still blogs, of course, though not as many as there were back when it was the “in thing.” Among the ones that have persisted, there are many special-interest blogs that confine themselves to one subject (e.g., knitting or cooking), a bunch of rant’n’ravers that exist mainly to vent the proprietors’ spleen, and a number of serious ones that purvey thoughtful analysis and commentary. It is in the nature of things that the last category should be the smallest of them.

     Those serious-commentary sites are the sort I prefer to read. But it is also in the nature of things that they don’t come banging on my door demanding attention. So when I stumble over one, it’s always a delightful surprise...and courtesy of Mark “Mad Dog” Sherman, I have a fresh entry for my reading list:

     Dare we say it, but Europe has a problem. Good old Europe, ancestral home to many of us, is in serious trouble. Not only has it lost Great Britain but its Eastern front is none too happy with the weak sisters of the West. To be more specific, while Western countries struggle to assimilate unassimilable Muslims, the East has closed its doors to migration… and thus, to looting, pillaging, raping and murder.

     As though this were not bad enough, the Trump administration has called out the countries of NATO as freeloaders, as weaklings who depend for their defense on the American military.

     It is not just a question of European nations paying their allotted share of the NATO budget. More importantly, it’s about whether any of them would fight to defend a Baltic nation, for instance, against a Russian incursion.

     Schneiderman quotes Walter Russell Mead on the specifics of Europe’s inanition:

     Europeans often contrast the “nationalism” of backward political cultures like Russia, China and the U.S. with their own supposedly enlightened attitude of cosmopolitan solidarity. Yet if these numbers are accurate, Europeans haven’t replaced nationalism with European solidarity. They have replaced nationalism with fantasy: the belief that one can have security and prosperity without a strong defense.

     That vision leaves Europe vulnerable, and it is threatening to let the West unravel. European leaders believe they are trading parochial loyalties for higher and broader commitments, when in truth their countries lack the solidarity that makes international order possible. Those who dream that they can have security without the willingness to fight for it are slowly turning NATO into the paper tiger that its enemies hope it will become.

     Oh, indeed...but this is not news. Nor is the mechanism at all obscure. We – the United States of America – collaborated in bringing it about. And in keeping with the ancient maxim that “They who are not punished for their sins will surely be punished by them,” today it’s biting us on the ass.


     Let’s have one more snippet from Walter Russell Mead’s essay: specifically, his conclusion:

     This problem won’t be easy to solve. For many Europeans, the essential purpose of European integration was to end war. For centuries, the restless nationalisms of European peoples plunged the Continent into one wretched war after another. The European Union was meant to bury those national antagonisms and end the cycle of war. To love Europe was to enter a posthistorical age of perpetual peace. For voters who grew up in the European cocoon, the military defense of European ideas sounds like a contradiction in terms. How can you build peace by making war?

     In contrast, Americans continue to believe that Europe is worth defending. We must hope that over the next few years more Europeans will come around to that position; otherwise, the prospects for “Westlessness” will only grow.

     There’s a fair amount of question-begging in the above. The key assertions:

  • Nationalism plunged Europe into one wretched war after another.
  • Americans believe that Europe is worth defending.
  • The problem won’t be easy to solve.

     All three of those claims are eminently disputable. However, the last of them (which is actually the first statement in the cited snippet) is the most important of the lot, for it eludes the question of the hour:

What’s “the problem,” really?

     Mark Sherman doesn’t see one – at least, not one that demands a solution of the sort Mead would favor:

     The answer is to let Europe go. It is past time to update our allies and let go of those old alliances which cannot hope to provide real protection going forward. We need to drop Europe and look more to the Anglosphere. This means not just walking away from NATO but cutting US ties and our role in the UN and the other international agencies. We need to recreate those same functions which have been corrupted within a new international entity focused on Anglospheric concerns and goals.

     I concur: it is time to “let Europe go.” Virtually from the conclusion of hostilities in 1945, Washington’s political elite worked to turn the Old World into an American welfare client. It was the doing of George Marshall, Dean Acheson, Charles Bohlen, and others in the Truman Administration to render Europe dependent upon the United States. Whether it was their conscious aim cannot be definitively answered, but the worst consequence of their policies – the military infantilization of Europe – is indisputable today.

     There was a Transatlantic constituency for those policies. I hope I need not enumerate the many institutions, public and private, that garnered departmental, provincial, or institutional benefits from encouraging the process. Suffice it to say that until the tax burden on ordinary Americans began to swell uncomfortably – say, during Lyndon Johnson’s second term – very few persons not in the political elite or some allied organization were much concerned with NATO and what it was doing to Europe.

     NATO’s cost to the United States as a percentage of Defense Department spending peaked in 1988 when it brushed 50%. It may be a smaller percentage today, but the absolute cost has only increased. Throughout, the nations of Europe have free-ridden on our defense commitment. They funneled the funds they would otherwise have spent on their own militaries into their welfare states.


     Needless to say (though, as is my wont, I shall say it anyway), there would be considerable resistance to the notion of extracting America from NATO, especially from the political class. Some of the objectors would claim that an American withdrawal from the Atlantic Alliance would leave Europe defenseless. Certainly a Europe suddenly wholly bereft of American arms would present a tempting target to Russia. But our extraction from the defense of the Old World need not be a swordstroke. It can be phased in, if sufficient resolve is applied to making sure it happens.

     Some of the resistance would be of this form:

     “You don’t remove someone from an alliance,” General Barcena said. “It’s simply...not done. Everyone needs allies!” [John Ringo, The Hot Gate]

     I have no doubt a State Department careerist, and no small number of the political appointees therein, would say exactly that. But that which is “not done” can be done – and in this case, it must. No other measure would compel the nations of Europe to fulfill their responsibilities to themselves. They’ve shirked those responsibilities for several decades, preferring to fund month-long vacations and outrageously early retirement on government pensions for their workers, while they pacify their unemployed and shiftless with generous welfare payments.

     Americans might like Europeans “in a general ‘they seem like nice people’ sort of way” – John Ringo again – but we’re hardly more inclined to foster international good-for-nothings than we are to coddle our native variety. Not to mention that among the unanticipated consequences of Transatlantic military welfarism are envy and resentment: a steady increase in the willingness of Europeans – with the smiling concurrence of their political elites – to blame America for every condition, and every development, they find not to their tastes. Were it necessary for Europe to work to stay on our good side, they might talk smack about us a good deal less.

     We could choose the easy way. We could cover our eyes and refuse to see the real problem – Transatlantic welfarism and the concomitant infantilization of Europe – in favor of a stubborn insistence that we must defend “our allies” as we have done since 1945. But that course is no longer tolerable in the face of the aggression of Russia to the east and the Islamic states to the southeast. Europe must be made to take its defense into its own hands.

     Muad’Dib tells us “The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.” And always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning “That path leads ever down into stagnation.” [Frank Herbert, Dune]

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Get 'Chur Popcorn!

Oberlin College is cutting back (Go Woke, Go Broke).

Now, I used to live in Ohio. I attended some teacher professional development courses (BEFORE the Wokeness fully hit). Our family enjoyed the town (yes, we did shop at Gibsons). There used to be a cheap movie house, very nice. The parks were beautiful, and the faculty (mostly science and math) were very good.

It's entirely possible that Oberlin may, indeed, go out of business. It's happened to a lot of schools recently. Bernie's wife presided over the destruction of Burlington College (although, to be fair, it had a very small endowment, and the staff was WAY overpaid - including her).

But, this is a signal. A LOT of Leftist institutions are gonna implode over the next few months/years. Expect a huge growth in Formerly Elite Bums hitting the streets - not to beg, but to DEMAND that we compensate them.

Yeah.

Like that's gonna happen.

Abuse of Foreign Interpreters Program

I hadn't been aware of this - it needs to stop immediately.

Your Thursday Jumble

     And a jumble it is, Gentle Reader. An embarras des richesses! For the “Future Columns” folder is bursting at the seams, and I am disinclined to slough any of the entries. So pour yourself another mugful, silence your cell phone – no texting during the performance, it disturbs the other patrons – and sit back.


Russian Collusion Follies: The Denouement

     Apparently, our supposedly crack investigators aren’t good at keeping track of stuff:

     Concerning which Ragin’ Dave has a few thoughts:

     Oh, I believe that those documents no longer exist, but they were "lost" in the same way that I happened to "lose" my virginity as a teen-age boy.

     Nor should we expect any of the Feebs to be held accountable:

     Given how every single Democrat connected FBI person has skated on the multiple crimes they committed, there is absolutely zero chance that anyone will actually be punished for their "failures", which is to say their deliberate actions undertaken to cover up the larger crimes they committed in service to the Democrat party.

     Sadly, I must concur.


“Neoconservative” NeverTrumpers.

     Ace has a few words to say:

     "Neocons" were disillusioned Democrats who objected to their party's excesses.

     But never the basic philosophy or priorities. Just the excesses.

     The neocons remade the Republican Party into something that Democrats could join -- and control.

     Now that we've taken their control away from them, and begun turning our backs on their preferred Democrat priorities for the GOP, they abandon it.

     It was never anything more than a refuge of convenience for them.

     Indeed, Ace’s characterization is close of that of the late William E. Simon, in his blockbuster political Jeremiad A Time for Truth. In that book, he referred to neoconservatives as “anti-Communists of a New Deal stripe.” John F. Kennedy would have qualified as one, had he lived through Lyndon Johnson’s term in office. But JFK would not have approved of Trump, a parvenu from outside the political class, unequipped with a Kennedy School of Government degree, whose emphasis is on reducing the power of the federal Leviathan, especially that of the unaccountable alphabet agencies. Don’t expect a diehard Democrat to agree with any of that, though.


“They don’t like us,” says Maine...

     Ace also has a few things to say about the attitudes of the Old World toward the U.S. of A.:

     Europeans have always hated and resented America. They may have had a marginally higher opinion of America when Obama was president, but that was most likely because his view of America was closer to theirs. That is, America had No Right to tower over all of the other nations of the world as it so clearly does, so the entire purpose of the Obama presidency was to bring America down to the level of the rest of the world, to handicap, kneecap, and hobble the American people and the American economy until we're just another shabby little socialist country. Europeans are Our Betters and we should strive to be more like them....

     This how I think about it: the world is like high school writ large. And America, meaning the United States of America, is the most popular student in school who is also a 3-letter sports jock with rugged good looks and, on top of that, is a straight 'A' student. All of the girls think he's just dreamy and of course he gets his pick of the hottest cheerleaders. Naturally, someone like this is going to stir up a lot of resentment from ankle-biters who aren't as good or as successful as he is, and there's nothing they'd like more than to see him brought down, or at least lower.

     An accurate appraisal, in my estimation. Once again, the magic word is envy. Watch for it among the losers you encounter. And be sure to wash your hands afterward.

     (NB: The title of this segment is a line from Archibald MacLeish’s poem “Colloquy for the States.”)


“Haven’t we done that already?”

     In many ways, the political struggles of the century behind us are about the efforts of a self-nominated elite – the political class, if you like – to gain power for itself and to barricade itself in place irremovably. Populism, frequent identified with the political ascendancy of Donald Trump, is their mortal foe. And so they have instructed their media cat’s-paws to argue for more authority for the elite!

     Only a fraction of the Democratic primary electorate has voted so far, but the nomination season is off to a rocky start. Independent Bernie Sanders seems to be leading in popular votes, while upstart Pete Buttigieg is ahead in the delegate count. And there’s also the question of whether either one — or any of the other candidates — can bring the party together moving forward.

     The current process is clearly flawed, but what would be better? Finding an answer means thinking about the purpose of presidential nominations, and about how the existing system falls short. It will require swimming against the tide of how we’ve thought about nominations for decades — as a contest between everyday voters and elites, or as a smaller version of a general election. A better primary system would empower elites to bargain and make decisions, instructed by voters.

     One lesson from the 2020 and 2016 election cycles is that a lot of candidates, many of whom are highly qualified and attract substantial followings, will inevitably enter the race. The system as it works now — with a long informal primary, lots of attention to early contests and sequential primary season that unfolds over several months — is great at testing candidates to see whether they have the skills to run for president. What it’s not great at is choosing among the many candidates who clear that bar, or bringing their different ideological factions together, or reconciling competing priorities. A process in which intermediate representatives — elected delegates who understand the priorities of their constituents — can bargain without being bound to specific candidates might actually produce nominees that better reflect what voters want.

     There it is, Gentle Reader: plain as a fart, from an organ that has the slogan “Democracy Dies In Darkness” at the top of its front page, in every single issue. Talk about a masks-are-off moment! But wait: there’s more! We’ve already been there and done that:

     The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows:

     Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

     The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each state having one vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President.

     The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

     That was Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution before all amendments. Read it closely. There was to be no popular participation in the selection of the president or the vice-president. The state legislatures had full discretion over whom to send to the Electoral College, and each elector had full discretion concerning whom he would support. Indeed, no aspect of citizen participation in the election of the president was enforced upon the states until the Twenty-Fourth Amendment was ratified – in 1961! Even today, Constitutional scholars argue about whether the states are bound to appoint presidential electors by popular vote.

     Mind you, it wasn’t a bad system. It gave us presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, among others. But it bore no slightest trace of “democracy.”


If You Support Mike Bloomberg For President...

     ...you should be aware of what he inflicted or tried to inflict upon New York City:

     Democrat presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg banned, or attempted to ban, far more than just large sodas during his dozen years as mayor of New York City, according to a list published on the eve of his departure from office....

     The majority of bans fell into one of three categories: smoking, transportation and food/beverage – but, music, grass clippings and heating oils were also targeted, the list reveals. By general category, the bans addressed the following areas of New Yorkers’ lives:

     Read it all. If you find that you approve of the Tiny Tyrant’s nannyist agenda, stay well away from me and keep your hands where I can see them.


On The Second Amendment Front.

     Bloomberg’s crusade against the firearms rights of private citizens has dipped a toe into the waters of Arizona, one of the most firearms-friendly states in the Union. Here’s how the popular reaction to that looks:

     RECOIL and OFFGRID dispatched editors to the Arizona state capitol on Saturday, covering the day's pro Second Amendment rally held by the Arizona Citizens' Defense League. Following events in VA, where the peaceful gathering of thousands of armed citizens passed off without incident and yet was still spun by the media as being overrun with white supremacist militias, we wanted to make sure this wasn't also misrepresented.

     What we saw was more of the same. Americans of all creeds, colors, backgrounds and sexual orientations were peaceably assembled, in order to demonstrate their love of freedom, and this country we call home. What was especially noticeable was the number of people in their twenties, which gives us hope that once the current crop of stereotypical old fat white guys dies off, (us included,) the Second Amendment will be in the hands of a generation that's just as motivated and vocal.

     The crowd size fluctuated throughout the four hour event as people joined and left, but to our untrained eyes seemed to hover around the three thousand mark, which was a huge increase over years past. Motivated no doubt by the introduction of SB1625 to the Senate, which would have brought the usual rag bag of Bloomberg-sponsored infringements to one of the most pro-2A states in the nation, Arizonans showed up in force.

     The majority open carried firearms ranging from a belt-mounted derringer, to a HMMWV-mounted Ma Deuce. And nothing happened. Well, that's not strictly true. Speakers spoke, the audience cheered, and people chatted with strangers, standing on a lawn in the sunshine, united in their appreciation of the republic in which we live.

     God bless and keep them. Please go to the article and relish the many pictures. They’re a heart-lifting sight. I really must renew my subscription to RECOIL magazine.


Owners’ Manuals.

     They’re not light reading...and I mean that literally:

     The new vehicle did have the manual with it; the thing is 500 pages due to the size and format.

     Firehand may own that vehicle for a long time before he’s read the whole book. I haven’t read the whole book for my 2011 Mercedes S550 – and there are controls in the cabin I still haven’t figured out. But that’s the nature of the overly technologized automobile in this year of Our Lord 2020. As for smartphones...maybe I shouldn’t start.


To Lift Him Out Of Dependency:

     ...give him a car:

     In a recent paper, David King of Arizona State University, Michael Smart of Rutgers University and Michael Manville of UCLA cited the legendary urbanist Mel Weber on the importance of facilitating sufficient mobility for low-income citizens: “Our central mission is to redress the social inequities thrown up by widespread auto use, and our central task is to invent ways of extending the benefits of auto-like transportation to those who are presently carless.”...

     Weber’s advice may seem surprising to the general public, which might imagine that transit provides sufficient mobility to low-income citizens. Transportation planning agencies report the percentage of households living “near transit” as an indicator of transit effectiveness, using measures such as a half mile from a transit stop.

     For example, Alltransit.cnt.org, ranks the Los Angeles metropolitan transit system as 6th best in the United States, out of 186. Alltransit.cnt.org indicates that 88.8% workers live “near transit” in Los Angeles. Yet, only 5.0% of Los Angeles commuters use transit. This speaks volumes as to the value of being “near transit” (Figure 1). Barely one in 18 commuters living “near transit” considers transit to be good enough to use instead of cars. Indeed, now nearly 97% of Los Angeles commuters have vehicles available, while the share of workers having no auto access dropped by nearly 18% from 2010 to 2018....

     The reality is that “nearness” to transit does not mean that low-income residents have anything resembling automobile mobility. It seems universal auto access in these communities, would lead to less unemployment, less poverty and higher standards of living. This would benefit both lower-income households in particular and the metropolitan economy in general.

     It’s a rare district where mass transit facilitates adequate mobility for its less-well-off residents. But mass transit, like many other left-wing totem objects, is a critical element in the “Herd ‘em all into the cities” agenda of the Left. The denser a population is, the more services its people will allow the local government to collectivize and control – and that is a source of great power for the government, to say nothing of the riches it can bring the governors and their hangers-on.

     If someone you love or admire is struggling financially, in part because he has no car, give him one. A beater, of course. He’ll get back on his feet, put a few nickels together, and find a better one in due time...and he’s quite likely to “pay it forward.” Trust me on this; I’ve been there.


Planning.

     Interviews of job candidates often include the question “Where do you see yourself in five / ten years?” The Feral Irishman provides an off-axis perspective:

     Oh my, yes. Long-term plans are fodder for dreamers. On any typical day I’m just trying to make it to bedtime in one piece – and that was just as true before I retired. I’d imagine most of us would say the same.

     Long-range planning is for projects, not people – and even with projects, the central importance of a plan is that it helps the people engaged in the project to recognize when things must change:

  • When they realize that the plan failed to account for something important;
  • When changing conditions force adjustments upon them;
  • When contributions from new participants reveal a better way.

     Life plans (and planners) are little more than a New Year’s Eve punchline.


A Plaint.

     This isn’t exactly news, but there’s a war going on against men, masculinity, and the inculcation of the masculine virtues in American boys. It’s had terrible effects already, despite significant resistance from the wise and the experienced. Here’s one woman’s rebuff of the vicious notion of “toxic masculinity:”

     I never thought we would reach a point where it was commonplace to hear social commentators, journalists and presidential candidates awfulize boys and men — our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons — simply because they are male. There were always those fringe women’s studies professors and radical feminists who made their living by hating on men but I couldn’t have imagined that such ugliness would infect the public discourse and be lauded as brave, let alone enlightened.

     It is not enlightened. In fact, it is woefully uninformed. And it is cruel.

     We hear the word “toxic” constantly, often followed by the word “masculinity.” Sometimes these men-haters throw in “problematic,” “misogyny” and “mansplaining” too. But having lived almost half a century, it is clear to me that toxicity has little to do with gender and everything to do with character and behavior.

     The article is brief, and worth reading in its entirety. However, the author stops by condemning her targeted notion without addressing the wherefores. How did this garbage get started? What sustains it in the face of its open and obvious counterfactuality?

     The answer is simple: It’s politically useful.

     Identity politics, the core of the Democrats’ strategy, requires the encouragement of identity groups: “Uses” that must be counterpoised to “Thems.” To maximize its take of the “women’s vote” requires that it get women to see themselves as a group whose interests clash with those of men. Therefore, women must be made to view men as “The Enemy.”

     There’s another aspect to it that’s even more ominous. Male decision making tends to be individualistic, arising from the man’s individual priorities and perspectives. Female decision making tends to be collectivistic, anchored to what her circle of relatives, friends, and associates hold as consensus. Thus, to subjugate men’s decisions to women’s decision making approach would be a colossal victory for the collectivistic Left. If men could be bludgeoned into renouncing their individualism for the sake of sexual access and / or domestic harmony...get the picture?

     Yes, some men have succumbed. But not all. Indeed, not most. And men’s resistance to the Left’s employment of Lysistrata-like tactics grows day by day.


     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. Work of several other kinds beckons. Enjoy your Thursday.

The Real Battle is Not Politics, It's Culture

That culture is Post-American. How does that differ from American Culture?


American Culture Post-American Result
Married Family Structure Female-Headed Family Fathers have little influence on children's lives. Government has more intrusion into single-parent families
Parent at Home Working Parents with Daycare Increased illness, Less parental oversight, Outside influence on child's moral upbringing increases
Most services provided in-home, including meal production Most services must be bought from outside vendors Drain on available money, less nutritious meals at greater expense
Time available for community activities Less time for community involvement Less connectivity to community, sports organizations must depend on non-parental leaders
These are just a few of the losses that have changed American culture. I'm sure that you can think of many others.

So many of the Democratic leadership wants to emulate European countries.

What part would they like to copy?

News Flash for Elites: We ain't Europe.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Personal Update

I've been struggling with joint pain since autumn started. My doctors have tried steroid shots (relief for a few weeks), NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and cold/warmth to relieve pain/improve mobility.

I've tried chiropractic adjustment (some relief, but it also preceded my most recent problem), water therapy, and bed rest when it got too painful.

This Monday, I was walking when I suddenly had a sharp burning pain in my right knee. By morning, I was unable to walk without assistance. I contacted my doctor, and the diagnosis is sprained ligaments. I was prescribed a knee brace (with a hinge), and given advice on managing the pain. This morning (on Motrin and with the brace), I can walk, with a cane, for limited amounts of time. Basically, just to the bathroom and to get food/drink from the fridge.

This may take some time to clear up; it's not unusual for soft tissue injuries to require months to fully heal. I previously had a bad ankle sprain that took more than 6 months to heal.

A complicating factor is that I've been receiving medical care for osteoarthritis (basically, wear-and-tear breakdown of joints - it eventually happens to most of us, particularly if we have weight issues, which I do). Last week, after testing, it was confirmed that I also have RA - rheumatoid arthritis.

My mother, an RA patient, was in a wheelchair for more than 15 years before her death. The disease affects more than 2 million Americans, most of them women. Those with twitchy immune systems seem to be more at risk - allergies, asthma, and other immune diseases.

From Mayo Clinic:
Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
 I've also been experiencing some 'brain fog' and memory loss (not major, just difficulty remembering little things - to call people on the phone, storing offhand information my husband tosses me on the way out the door). I'm fine as long as I write it down (usually), and memory usually is not a factor when I'm not feeling poorly.

However, the malaise and brain fog is hindering my progress on my book. Shorter things - blog posts, journaling, short stories - are fine. But, I've been having a devil of a time getting further on my book. As a result, I'm frustrated. Filled with ideas, and just not making progress on writing them down.

Most of this is not life-threatening. Just affecting quality of life. I'm hopeful that, now that I have a diagnosis, I can start attacking the problems head on. The knee thing is already improving, with caution and use of the brace. Decent levels of Motrin help, too.

Methods Versus Intentions

     Beware the man who claims that his intentions constitute an authorization to control your methods. Not all such persons are Democrats, though they do constitute an unhealthy majority thereof. Some are Republicans who, like former (or ersatz) Republican Michael Bloomberg, simply think you’re an ignoramus who doesn’t know what’s best for you.

     Much of the defamation aimed at the free market arises from such persons. Unfortunately, many of them are smart enough, and accomplished enough in their chosen occupations, to command more respect for their political opinions than is good for us. I have an example here:

     Conservative intellectuals launch a new group to challenge free-market ‘fundamentalism’ on the right

     Oren Cass believes conservatives have blundered by outsourcing GOP economic policymaking to libertarian “fundamentalists” who see the free market as an end unto itself, rather than as a means for improving quality of life to strengthen families and communities. The former domestic policy director on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign quit his job as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute to launch a new group called American Compass that aims to reorient the right...

     Markets are good, Cass explained, but life is about so much more than markets. He said American conservatism historically had a richer conception of the role of government beyond maximizing returns, such as strengthening domestic industry. He lamented the growing concentration of wealth, geographically on the coasts and in the big cities, as well as in a handful of industries, which has accelerated income inequality...

     I’ve seen emissions like this many times. They tend to come from self-styled “ur-conservatives” who seek to return to pre-Cobden mercantilism and the strong protectionist measures it featured. It’s a thinly veiled form of collectivism that implicitly promotes the writer’s notions about what’s best over the freedom of others to produce and trade as they please. Note in particular the phrase “a richer conception of the role of government” in the above. Reflect on what that “role” could – and would – embrace.

     I’m not here to argue about “what’s best.” Plenty of opinion-mongers past and present have done so, with little agreement to be found among them. On the anti-free-market side they tend to lament the dwindling of what they often call “human values,” a trend they attribute to the free market and “commercialism.” The late Robert Nisbet, prominent among them, became well known for his opinion that America’s markets – hardly free at the time – might be “too efficient.” By what standard would Nisbet judge them “too efficient?” He was concerned, he said, with how they impede “life on a human scale.” It’s what R. A. Lafferty called “a good round thumping phrase,” eminently suitable for stump speeches. However, objectively speaking it means nothing.

     The resurgence of such thinking in the Right is more disturbing than most persons would imagine.


     At this time, President Trump is employing tariffs to correct for an aberration in international commerce. Specifically, he has targeted other countries’ governments’ use of subsidies and tariff barriers: the former to give chosen industries an edge in international trade; the latter to prevent American goods from competing with industries domestic to those countries. By using tariffs as a measure by which to compensate for such anticompetitive behavior, Trump has put our trading partners on notice: What you can do to us, we can do to you – and we will. It’s an important component of his successful strategy for correcting America’s loss of manufacturing jobs and its international trade balances.

     Yes, it’s a seeming departure from free-market absolutism. However, when one’s partners have already tilted the ice, there’s no corrective but to force it back to level by such a countermeasure. In some cases a tariff war can “run away.” That happened in the Thirties, with the Smoot-Hawley tariffs and the responses of our trading partners to it. But when Trump has achieved the results he sought, he’s lifted the relevant tariff, though always with the sotto voce message that a return to bad behavior by the targeted nation would see it swiftly restored.

     Trump understands free markets. He’s spoken in favor of them many times. He understands full well that a market in which one participant has coercive power on his side, helping to fuel his efforts and retard those of his competitors, is not free.

     More to the point of this tirade, the “free market” is a shorthand phrase for an aspect of freedom itself: the right to trade one’s products and services (including one’s labor) with consenting others, without interference from a government. It is a method by which free people pursue what they think is best.

     And here we come to the nub of the thing: What commentators such as Robert Nisbet and Oren Cass think is best might differ from what you think is best, and dramatically at that. That does not authorize them to rule your preferences wrong and demand that you accept theirs.

     I could go on about this, but I believe the point is made. We each have our methods for pursuing and defending our visions of what’s best. When someone else tells you that his vision of what’s best entitles him to limit your freedom – i.e., to constrain or condition your methods for pursuing your contrasting vision – reject that person. He wants to control you, and no matter how benign he seems that’s something you must not tolerate.

     Maintain your vigilance. You know what depends on it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Quickies: A Misdiagnosis

     I’m something of a fan of Tucker Carlson, who strikes me as the most forthright political commentator on the television networks. However, he too is fallible – aren’t we all? – and sometimes misses the point of an important development. Watch and listen to his monologue of yesterday evening:

     Carlson is correct that Bloomberg represents a threat to the political system. However, in my opinion he misidentifies the specifics of the threat. Indeed, there’s evidence to that effect in what he says in the above: i.e., that Trump defeated Clinton despite spending only half of what the Clinton campaign spent on advertising. That cross-cuts Carlson’s contention that Bloomberg’s vast wealth could enable him to purchase the presidency.

     Moreover, Carlson errs in his assertion that Bloomberg has no sincere convictions. He does have one, and I can state it in a single short sentence:

“I know what’s best and you don’t.”

     With that Bloomberg will brook no argument. It’s a common conceit among the wealthy, especially the self-made wealthy. And from it flows every other stance he’s ever taken on anything.

     While I doubt that Bloomberg can win the presidency merely by flooding the airwaves with his ads, I will admit that his money can have a role in politics – perhaps even a critical one. I recently proposed an explanation for why Bloomberg is getting special treatment from the DNC, and it is because of his wealth. That piece, in my opinion, is a better explanation for why Bloomberg is in the race than any other now in circulation. It would certainly account for the DNC’s special accommodations for him.

     Money in politics is subject to the Law of Diminishing Returns. Its principal effect is to make voters aware of a candidate, his record, and his proposed agenda in office. Beyond that it loses effect. However, billions of dollars spread among many state and local elections could have a greater aggregate effect than if it were spent on a presidential candidacy. If Bloomberg’s money could be used to buy not the presidency but a great many “down-ticket” offices, particularly in the state legislatures, the DNC would rejoice. The state and local governments are the “triple A” teams of national politics, from which candidates emerge to contend for federal offices. A Democrat takeover of government at the state and local levels would put the Republican Party on a deathwatch. That prospect, plus the neutering of the extremely dangerous Bernie Sanders, would constitute a sufficient justification for the DNC’s embrace of Bloomberg.

     From Bloomberg’s perspective, his uber-issue of gun control – really, banning the civilian possession of firearms altogether – is paramount. A great takeover of the state legislatures is the most plausible route toward that end. Thus his “agenda” and the DNC’s desires, while not identical, appear to be harmonious.

     Thus there is danger, even though the Tiny Tyrant’s chance of attaining the Oval Office is slim to none.

Quickies: Distancing Yourself From The Thundering Herd

     (Before we proceed, note the use of the correct homophone in the title. You, too, can get it right, even when writing at “Anderle speed”...which I don’t, but you might. Verb. sap.)

     Yes, Gentle Reader: Fran the Gentle Grammar Nazi is on the prowl once more, but in a spirit of improvement rather than castigation. If my room-temperature fulminations about the mistreatment of the English language bore you, feel free to surf away. It’s one of the things perennially stuck in my craw, though the passing of the years has dampened my furies to “holding” levels.

     Today’s mini-Jeremiad concerns writing in an idiom particular to another culture. Obviously, if you were writing about a non-English-speaking culture, it would be important to grasp what sort of mistakes in the speaking of English are common to people from that realm. However, what I have in mind this morning is the crafting of dialogue among persons from a non-American but English-speaking culture: the group of nations routinely referred to as “Anglophones.”

     Good dialogue must bear the stamp of reality: i.e., how the persons involved, and persons with backgrounds similar to theirs, would actually talk. As the Anglophone nations other than America have stratified cultures, this is more difficult for an American writer than it might first seem.

     The great Gregory Benford, in the dedications to his award-winning novel Timescape, mentioned that he had secured knowledgeable assistance to ensure that his English characters spoke in an authentically English idiom. That was a wise decision, for one whose acquaintance with that idiom is too slight to trust. However, what Benford did not mention is that there is more than one “English idiom.” Which of them one speaks marks him indelibly as a member of the associated demographic...or class.

     Never fear, Gentle Reader: Benford did attend to that necessity, and quite nicely at that. If you haven’t read Timescape, I recommend it wholeheartedly, and not for that reason alone.

     The same necessity impinged upon me when I decided to incorporate English characters into my Futanari series. Moreover, I had to decide whether acculturation, in the case of one character who had been in America for several years, might have cross-bred her idiom. When her father, a high English noble, came to New York to visit with her, I had her transition to the upper-class diction in which she’d been raised, even though she had shown symptoms of linguistic acculturation in previous stories in the series.

     The short version: It isn’t easy to get this stuff right. But doing so marks a writer as uniquely attentive to cultural patterns and structures. It’s a mark of considerable distinction.

     Need I say explicitly that it’s worth your time? If you want to stand out from the less attentive, less meticulous crowd, that is.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Gift For My Readers

     By dint of a great and protracted effort that has wearied me so completely that upon the completion of this brief piece I plan to take my Kindle to my recliner, recline to the maximum, lay my Kindle gently over my face, and snore away the day, I have completed the capture of what might be the most incendiary document available during this presidential campaign season:

THE PORTABLE BLOOMBERG:
THE WIT AND WISDOM
OF MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

     ...which bills itself as a collection of exact quotations from the Tiny Tyrant of the Big Apple, gathered from the lips of his employees. Quite a lot of the sayings compiled therein are funny. Some are moderately insightful. And a whole lot are...well, let’s just say they’re not for cocktail parties, unless by “cocktail party” you mean beers around the pool table at the local gin mill.

     It is my belief that should this document get into general circulation, the little guy would be tarred, feathered, and run out of the country on a rail. (Yes, yes, he deserves worse for what he did to New York City, but some measures remain beyond the power of even a Curmudgeon Emeritus.) So if you’re opposed to having Bloomberg as the Democrats’ presidential nominee (or for that matter as anything above a sewer worker in Istanbul), email me to that effect and I’ll send you a copy of this delightful publication in return.

     And with that, it’s time for a nice lie-down.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Impermanence Of Temporal Things: A Sunday Rumination

     I haven’t done one of these in a while, mostly for lack of a suitable inspiration or insight. However, this morning I believe I have a good jumping-off point...though you might be a wee bit disturbed by the direction I jump in:

     In truth, if the earth and all it contains must one day disappear by fire, the goods of this world are no more to be esteemed than wood and straw. What point is there, then, in making them the object of our desires and cares? Why seek to build and leave marks of our genius and power where we have no permanent abode, and where the form of this world will be removed, like a tent that has no travelers to shelter? It may be said that it will be a thousand years before this frightening cataclysm takes place; but Christ has said that a thousand years are but an instant compared with eternity, and when the moment comes—when, from the land of the future life, we are the witnesses and actors in that supreme drama—the whole span of humanity will seem so short to us that we shall scarcely consider it to have lasted a single day.

     [Father Charles Arminjon, The End of the Present World]

     There is much wisdom in the above. If we have two lives to live – one a temporal one that will inevitably end; the other an eternal one that will never end – then it makes perfect sense to give priority to the life to come. As Robert Ringer once wrote, no matter how long you live, it’s as nothing compared to how long you’ll be dead. Preparation for eternal life – the life that follows death – should take precedence over all other considerations.

     But a question arises: If this life is as nothing compared to the life to come, what’s the point of it? Why did God bother to give it to us? What, apart from adhering to the Commandments, are we supposed to do with it?

     These are questions even the most devout, utterly convinced Christian must confront. Moreover, he must answer them satisfactorily, for they pose perhaps the greatest trial of faith any Christian can face.


     Father Arminjon asks, quite pointedly:

     What point is there, then, in making them [the goods of this world] the object of our desires and cares?

     It’s a good question that’s best answered by inserting a single word into it:

     What point is there, then, in making them [the goods of this world] the sole object of our desires and cares?

     And answer comes there none, because...well, I’ll stop short of saying that it “should” be “obvious,” and merely point to the imbalance between temporal and eternal priorities. Clearly, what matters most to the sincere believer is whether he will qualify for admission to eternal life in God’s nearness: i.e., heaven. But while we live, we must give some priority to “wood and straw,” if only to keep the rain off.

     Father Arminjon’s exhortation actually compels us to look at the deeper question I raised in the opening segment: What’s the point of our temporal lives? The answer I prefer is this one: We are here to learn to love. As God is Love, He prefers to keep company with others who have learned to love as He does. Of course, one can ask a deeper question – namely, why aren’t we created already knowing how to love? – but one mystery per Rumination is all I can handle.

     The Two Great Commandments have far more force than most people, including most Christian clerics, allot to them:

     But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together: And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him: Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
     Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. [Matthew 22:34-40]

     That last sentence was Christ saying “Pay attention: this is the key to everything!” But if love is the key, then temporal life, which we enter as caterwauling savages concerned solely with food and the state of our diapers, is perforce a place where we must learn to love – and to demonstrate that we have internalized the lesson by our behavior toward others.

     It’s not a trivial, easily learned lesson. I wrote an entire novel about it. Indeed, I wrote that novel for the opportunity to make one, overriding statement of the principle:

     “No matter where we stand in our lives, whatever our circumstances,” Father Ray had said to her, “only three paths are open to us. We can break, we can stand idle, or we can build. The Christian course is to strive to build, to improve, to contribute whatever mortal power can add to God’s edifice. If that necessitates some demolition, the tearing down of an impassable obstacle, the Christian is commanded to do so in a spirit of understanding and forgiveness. He must not condemn. He must not hate.”
     “I’ve known a lot of people who called themselves Christians,” she replied, “and damned few of them seemed to adhere to those precepts. Not as far as I could tell, anyway.”
     The young priest smirked ruefully. “I know, dear. It’s very hard. I can’t do it any better than most. It could send a lot of us right down the chute of despair, if it weren’t for one thing.”
     “Which is?”
     “That God is love. Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It rejoices not in wrongdoing but in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. And he who loves is endlessly willing to forgive.”
     The vacuum in her soul, the empty place that cried out to be filled with love but had recoiled from it at every opportunity, tugged insistently at her.
     “So a Christian is commanded to love?” she said. Her voice sounded small in her own ears.
     “Yes. But with a caveat.”
     “Which is?”
     “To remember that love isn’t just something you feel. It’s also something you do. A Christian might have a hard time feeling love for some people, especially people who’ve hurt him in the recent past. But however wounded he may feel, he is capable of deciding to love, of willing himself to love despite the difficulty—and of acting from love. And sometimes,” he said with a small smile, “the doing will bring the feeling in its wake.”

     [From The Wise and the Mad]

     I don’t think it can be said any more concisely than that.


     And so, Father Arminjon’s exhortation deserves respect, but it also requires qualification. Yes, the life to come is of infinitely higher priority than the one we live under the veil of Time. That, however, is a far cry from saying that our present lives are of no importance whatsoever. They are the forge in which we form our characters, especially their capacity for love.

     David Horowitz once made a fascinating pair of observations. In his thirties, he wrote, he realized that he would someday die. But he was also aware that until then, he had to live – and to learn how to live. How we live is important, and not only for our circumstances here on Earth.

     The two Great Commandments and the Ten Commandments that follow from them tell us what we must and must not do while we live. They constitute the qualifications which, once met, permit us to live as we please. Yes, we are allowed security, comfort, and the pleasures available during temporal existence. We must merely remain in obedience to the Commandments while we amass and enjoy them.

     That is the process by which we learn to love, for love as Christ used the word has two distinct meanings. To love God is to worship Him as the Author of all that we are and have, and to be grateful to Him for our blessings. To love our neighbor is to wish him well – never to wish him harm – and to come to his aid when he deserves and requires it: a precept C. S. Lewis has called The Law of General Benevolence. Created as we are, part mortal clay and part immortal soul, to merit salvation we must employ the former in absorbing the lesson He has embedded in the latter. Beyond that, we are free.

     May God bless and keep you all!