Friday, March 23, 2018

A Blast From The Past: “Satisfaction Not Guaranteed”

     Full disclosure:

  • I am 66 years old.
  • I wasn’t always 66 years old.

     Things change as one ages, including one’s spectrum of priorities. Why, I’ve been told (by someone who should know) that I was once more interested in sex. The vagaries of recollection are such that I find that I must take her word for it.

     This came up (as other things seldom do, these days) because of an observation made by a longtime Gentle Reader: “You no longer write about sex much.” And indeed it is so. I wouldn’t have imagined it for a subject on which my Gentle Readers feel there’s a dearth of opinion being expressed, but one does live and learn.

     I’m cooking a long essay on another subject just now – watch this space – so I’ll attempt to assuage that correspondent’s interests with a repost. The following essay first appeared at Eternity Road on November 11, 2005. (Yes, that was the eighty-seventh anniversary of Armistice Day. Is that really significant?)

Satisfaction Not Guaranteed

     It sometimes happens that, in defending or promoting a position of which your Curmudgeon approves, a commentator will "go overboard" in a big way, slathering all sorts of undeserved contempt on those who differ with him. (Note that word "undeserved," please. Your Curmudgeon has no problem with the distribution of contempt to those who've earned it.) A fresh example of this has just blipped your Curmudgeon's radar.

     The commentator of whom your Curmudgeon speaks is relatively popular in the Blogosphere. Owing to his modest gift of wit, he once made Eternity Road's blogroll but, owing to his penchant for the sort of tirade mentioned above, he was dropped from it soon thereafter. Inasmuch as his opinions, shorn of his tendency to decorate them with vilifications and denunciations, are fairly sound, this must be considered unfortunate. However, your Curmudgeon has his priorities, and the promotion of civility and genuine tolerance, particularly among persons of divergent views, ranks high among them.

     The subject is, of course, sex.

     Has your Curmudgeon set his hook fairly well? Good. Then he can begin his discourse with a little economics.

     Every decision one makes consciously involves a selection from among the possibilities open to him at the moment. By corollary, he must also reject any other possibilities that are incompatible with his selection -- that is, other possibilities which his selection would render impossible, or prohibitively costly. This is called "opportunity cost," and it's no less important in one's sexual decision making than in any other venue.

     A crude example would be a man who has his choice of two women as bed partners on a particular evening. Unless the ladies are somewhat kinkier than the norm, selecting either one will deny him the other. Unless he's more of a cad than the average man, he's unlikely to factor that into his choice, but it's no less true for that.

     A somewhat more practical example is that of a woman contemplating the surrender of her virginity. This is a one-time-only event; there are many items and appliances one can unscrew, but a woman is not one of them. So if she places some value on her virginity, she must come to terms with the prospect of having it nevermore.

     Contemporary American society values virginity much less than that of a century ago, or even half a century. A woman is not widely expected to arrive at her marital bed still a virgin; far less so is a man. But some persons still do resolve to make it to the altar "unscrewed," whether for religious, social, or epidemiological reasons. Your Curmudgeon considers it a wise policy, even though it's one that, as a young man, he wasn't wise enough to follow himself.

     But that doesn't change the economic aspects of the decision.

     The opportunity cost of maintaining one's virginity until marriage is whatever amount and degree of sexual satisfaction one might have had beforehand. One must believe either that premarital sex is morally wrong, or that the benefits are not worth the costs, to eschew those possibilities. Since valuation is personal, and since there's nothing more personal than one's sexual attitudes, this is not a decision anyone can make for someone else. Nor is it a decision that a nosy parker, whatever his station in life, ought to award himself the privilege of reviewing and critiquing.

     One's approvals and disapprovals are one's own affair. However, public censoriousness over something so intimate is massively arrogant and wildly out of place, even when one is speaking in generalities. Nor is it a defense of such behavior to claim that others have been just as censorious about one's own preferences and proclivities. In case there's anyone in the audience who's mislaid his aphorisms, two wrongs don't make a right.

     Sexual decisions are among those that involve the largest uncertainties. No matter how good she looks, how seductively she dresses, or how invitingly she talks, satisfaction is emphatically not guaranteed. Indeed, if experience is a reliable guide, in sexual matters appearances are deceiving more often than in more mundane transactions.

     But the value of virginity is also an uncertain thing. Will your future spouse value it? Might you lose a possible future spouse by clinging to it? Whatever your church teaches, do you think God really demands it of you, on pain of eternal punishment? These and many related questions cannot be answered with perfect assurance. All that's certain is that by remaining virginal, one has elected to forgo the possibility of certain pleasures, and has averted the possibility of certain hazards. That is all.

     For some, that's enough and more than enough. For others, it seems a bad bargain. But it's illegitimate to second-guess the decisions of others with the benefit of hindsight. It's even dubious to second-guess one's own decisions. After all, the graph of desire is not constant over one's lifetime. How can one really put oneself into the proper frame of mind and body to fairly judge an emotionally charged decision he made years ago -- sometimes many years ago?

     Surely, the general modern reluctance to insert one's views into the intimate decisions of others is a gain to all of us. It bespeaks humility, in contrast to the arrogance of the self-appointed judge. It allows that Man is not allowed true clarity of vision about things so close to the heart. It says "there but for the grace of God go I," and passes on to its own proper concerns.

     Regardless of how one feels about contemporary attitudes toward sex and sexual display, the last thing the country needs is a Howard Cosell of the nether parts, orating critically about others' properly private decisions and actions as if they were fit to be telecast to millions. Even in the most provocative situations, all one should allow oneself is to ask others -- politely -- to maintain the privacy appropriate to sex.

     Moral conduct toward others is a hotly debated subject. Your Curmudgeon doesn't expect it to be settled in his lifetime. However, there's at least one principle that appears to have general assent: It is wrong to treat another person solely as a means to your own ends.

     As regards sex, some of the implications are obvious. To lie to a potential bedmate about your intentions toward her, just to get her panties off, is clearly wrong. To coerce or intimidate or bribe or "guilt" sexual access out of her is clearly wrong. To subject her to hazards that you know about but she doesn't is clearly wrong. There can be no serious debate about these cases.

     Herein lies the explanation for many of our society's quasi-taboos. Men lie, arm-twist, and conceal to get sex. Women offer it in exchange for other considerations, sometimes immediate, sometimes deferred. None of this is wholesome; all of it constitutes the use of another person purely as a means to one's own ends. When we learn of it, we frown on it, even if we've occasionally been guilty of it ourselves. It might not be possible to enforce laws against it, but it's no less reprehensible for that.

     But when two mature adults come together sexually under conditions of "informed consent" -- that is, both are of sound mind, neither has attempted to coerce or defraud the other, and both are as aware of the hazards as a mature adult is expected to be -- their decision to couple, whether permanent or very temporary, is theirs alone. Each is operating under the old principle of "assumption of risk." Neither can validly claim afterward that he was anything but a free agent acting on his own vision of his best interests. And whether they're married or unmarried, the rest of us should butt out.

     Good parents do their utmost to educate their kids about sex, both its pleasures and its hazards. (Bad parents mostly hope the subject never comes up.) While the child is still a minor, responsibility for whom rests with the parents, they're justified in being protective of him, even to the extent of presenting an intimidating face toward prospective romantic partners. But once he's reached his majority, even Mom and Dad should withhold their wisdom until their counsel is requested. He may stumble; he may even fall. But unless he's permitted to do so on his own initiative and at his own discretion, he's not yet an adult; he's merely an overgrown child still under his parents' supervision.

     The covenant among adults is that each shall be allowed the management of his own affairs. Nothing more, but nothing less.

     The subject is large. Your Curmudgeon has his standards and preferences, and could easily spend ten thousand words explicating them. Being a basically nice guy, he'll spare you. But in exchange, he has two requests to make of you all:

  1. Please don't copulate in public.
  2. If you have opinions about proper sexual conduct, keep them almost as private as your bedplay. That is, express them if asked for counsel by someone you know well, but when the subject is the private conduct of strangers, or of persons you know who haven't asked for your opinions, keep them to yourself.

     It's not that difficult.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Institutions And Incursions

     The dark side of attempting to bypass a fortified position in the hope of striking the enemy in his vitals is that the bypassed fortress might emit troops that can threaten your rear. This is merely one case of the Evil Overlord maxim: “Never leave a live enemy behind you.”

     Today, courtesy of Mike Hendrix, we have a striking example of how this applies to contemporary institutions:

     Angered by word of the disciplining of two Lacey High School students for a gun-related social media post, 200 parents, community members and other supporters of the Second Amendment on Monday let the Board of Education know they don't want the district trampling on their rights or meddling in their home lives.

     "You guys are reaching into our private life, the private life of our children," said one parent, Lewis Fiordimondo, who has twins in pre-kindergarten and a daughter at the high school. "It's not your place. It's not the school's place."

     Another dad, Frank Horvath, whose son is a senior at Lacey High, put things in blunter terms.

     "It's none of your damn business what our children do outside of school," Horvath told the seven board members toward the end of a four-hour meeting, most of it occupied by speaker after speaker venting anger and frustration at school officials largely unable to respond due to confidentiality rules.

     The unusually large turnout for Monday night's board meeting in the high school auditorium was prompted by a five-day in-school suspension of two senior boys after one of them posted a photo of themselves with guns at a local shooting range, away from school property and not during school hours.

     The parental reaction is most gratifying. Indeed, had the outraged parents descended bodily upon the school, hauled the administrators out by their necks, and hanged them from the most convenient lampposts, I’d have applauded even more enthusiastically. It would have been no more than they deserved for what they’d attempted to do.

     What they were attempting to do, you see, is congruent with the various “school walkouts” to “protest gun violence.” That the subject was the right to keep and bear arms is secondary.

     The “public” schools no longer have education for their primary purpose...or any lesser purpose. Indeed, even indoctrination takes a back seat to their paramount mission. That mission is so greatly at odds with any and all conceptions of “school” that it must be stated in large font:

The “public” schools’ first and foremost aim is the exercise of police powers over the lives of American children.

     Moreover, the “public” schools have asserted an arbitrary power of legislation as well. Note the following report about Lacey High School’s “student handbook:”

     Before tweaking the language in the high school's student handbook, the policy said "any student who is reported to be in possession of a weapon of any type for any reason or purpose whether on or off school grounds," would be subject to penalties including up to a one-year suspension.

     It now omits any mention of possessing a weapon off school grounds and doesn't mention a specific suspension length. It also includes a note on buses.

     I added the emphasis. Give it a moment’s thought before you continue on.

     I was once an advocate of merely bypassing the Left-conquered institutions – the educational establishments, the news media, and the entertainment complex – that have done so much damage to American life. In particular, I believed that emptying the “public” schools via private alternatives and homeschooling was the best way to neutralize their pernicious effects. The above incident, coupled to the “gun violence protests” that appear to have occurred across the length and breadth of the nation, has changed my mind.

     The “gun violence protests,” you see, were mandatory de facto. A cosmetic alternative of “opting out” was offered to students who disagreed, but those students, in every case that I know of, were herded into special rooms for the duration of the “protest.” In a stroke, they were ostracized, marginalized, and denied the learning opportunities their parents had paid for. They were not allowed to mount a counter-protest in support of the right to keep and bear arms.

     You may rest assured that their names were recorded for their brass in refusing to join the anti-gun “protests.”

     So we have a coercively funded institution with national scope that has been fully conquered by the Left and is striving to exercise legislative, police, and judicial powers over American students – and by extension, over their parents. Moreover, I would posit that the reaction by the New Jersey parents cited above is atypical – that the usual response to an event such as the suspension of the Lacey Two is “What’s the use?” or “You can’t fight City Hall.” I’d like to be wrong about that, but I don’t think I am.

     The “public” schools must be destroyed. They must be ripped from the fabric of our communities. Their employees must be fired with prejudice: i.e., they must be excluded from any position in which they could repeat their crimes. Their physical facilities must be sold to private parties. No successor institution that shares their coercive powers can be tolerated.

     You might be asking why I consider that necessary. It’s quite simple: the “public” schools, and their ever-escalating exactions via taxation, are the major reason for the dwindling of private alternatives. Vanishingly few families can afford to pay school taxes, about which they have no choice, and the tuition at a private school as well. Moreover, the “educators’ unions” are aware of this. It’s part of the reason they demand ever more of our money. As for the few brave American families that opt for homeschooling, they’re under increasing legal pressure intended to make their choice effectively impossible, whether by expense or through intrusive monitoring that inherently makes the home school an extension of the “public” school.

     Think about it.

Quotable quotes.

Western mainstream media have their narrative and they don’t want to see it disturbed. Any evidence that goes against their preferred narrative – namely that ‘Assad is a butcher, massacring his people’ – anything that disturbs that narrative is simply ignored or mocked. But the truth is beginning to come out... All these crocodile tears being cried by the likes of Ambassador Nikki Haley in New York are disgraceful, trading on sentiment when behind it is just cynical great power maneuvering.
~ Peter Ford, former British ambassador to Syria.[1]

[1] Quoted in "‘They know that we know they are liars, they keep lying’: West’s war propaganda on Ghouta crescendos." By Eva K. Bartlett, RT, 3/21/18.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Quickies: “A Vote Against Meritocracy”

     Every now and then, I play through a few YouTube videos of the major media on Election Night 2016, when the Trump campaign confounded all the prognosticators. Just today I encountered one in which Lawrence O’Donnell, ever the self-exalting, self-justifying left-liberal, pronounced the Trump victory “a vote against meritocracy.” “She did everything right,” he said. He meant it as a slap: against Trump certainly, but also against the millions of Americans who voted for Trump. For O’Donnell was unshakably certain not only that Hillary Clinton would win the election, but that she was far better suited to be president than Donald Trump. It was O’Donnell’s way of saying that to vote for Trump was a denigration of Clinton’s fitness – i.e., her prior “service” in federal offices – and a deliberate choice of the less worthy candidate.

     Yes, those are “sneer quotes.”

     Heads nodded throughout the media at O’Donnell’s sentiment. To the media handmaidens of the political elite, two assertions constitute unquestionable postulates of “public service:”

  • They know who “deserves” (and who doesn’t) to be admitted to the political class;
  • Prior occupancy of lower offices is the sole acceptable qualification for higher ones.

     The media, in particular, weren’t merely shocked by Trump’s victory; they took it as a personal insult. For they regard themselves as the official arbiters, the self-anointed “authorities” fit to judge who may and who may not attain high office. To contradict their wisdom once issued is the American version of lese majeste.

     I deem this to be multiply confirmed by the unending and utterly groundless attacks on President Trump since Election Night. The talking heads who were so firmly behind Clinton, and so confident that she would prevail, cannot maintain their self-regard – really, their assumption of superior wisdom and morality — without hammering home to their viewers what a terrible lapse of judgment America displayed when it elevated this rank upstart, this crass bourgeois construction magnate, this uncultured barbarian boor to the highest office in the land.

     And I can’t watch those Election Night videos without cackling fiendishly over the way Trump shattered all their illusions and pretensions. I do so whenever I’m feeling a bit low about our national discourse. It has been said, and truly, that laughter is the best medicine.

A Little Naughty Fun

SCHADENFREUDE: German for “shameful joy:” what the small of soul feel at the misfortune of another.

     If you write, and if you’ve ever steamed over the greater success of the works of an incontestably undeserving competitor, perhaps you’ll enjoy the following.

     I don’t know the source of the music; it was sent to me by a friend, titled “Hymn” and nothing else. The poem is by Australian poet Clive James. The voice, of course, is mine.

     (Hey, it’s snowing heavily and I was bored. So sue me!)

     (03/22/2018: Updated to rebalance the two sound tracks. -- FWP)

“Deep State”

     I keep citing this passage, yet it seems that few are paying attention:

[United States Senator from Oklahoma David L.] Boren, formerly a state legislator and governor, went to Washington expecting to make some changes. “What impressed me most is the great power of the bureaucracy compared to that of elected officials. All the talk about growing control by the bureaucracy is not exaggerated. The shift in power is very real.... There is almost a contempt for elected officials.”...

Senator Boren found, to his surprise, that a Senator has great difficulty even getting phone calls returned by the “permanent” employees, much less getting responsive answers to his questions.

The voters can’t “throw the rascals out” anymore, because the main rascals are not elected but appointed....

Regulatory bureaucrats have extra power because they can outlast the elected officials. “Often,” Boren explains, “I’ve said to a bureaucrat, ‘You know this is not the president’s policy.’

’True, Senator, but we were here before he came, and we’ll be here after he leaves. We’re not in sympathy with his policy. We’ll study the matter until he leaves.’”

[From Armington and Ellis, MORE: The Rediscovery of American Common Sense.]

     When Monmouth University polled private citizens about the “deep state,” only a minority (37%) were both familiar with the term and professed to be against the phenomenon it labels. Yet the matter is not so simple:

     Few Americans (13%) are very familiar with the term “Deep State;” another 24% are somewhat familiar, while 63% say they are not familiar with this term. However, when the term is described as a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy, nearly 3-in-4 (74%) say they believe this type of apparatus exists in Washington. This includes 27% who say it definitely exists and 47% who say it probably exists. Only 1-in-5 say it does not exist (16% probably not and 5% definitely not). Belief in the probable existence of a Deep State comes from more than 7-in-10 Americans in each partisan group, although Republicans (31%) and independents (33%) are somewhat more likely than Democrats (19%) to say that the Deep State definitely exists....

     The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 2 to 5, 2018 with a national random sample of 803 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 400 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 403 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).

     To me, the survey’s sampling method appears sound, and its questions well designed to minimize surveyor influence on the answers. But don’t take my word for it. Read the linked article and draw your own conclusions.

     If there is a body of persons who, individually or in aggregate, exercise more power than the elected officials of the federal government, we would be justified in pointing to them and saying “There is the true federal government. There is the ‘deep state.’” If we take Senator Boren’s comment on his dealings with the federal bureaucracy as sincere and at face value, and if the 75% of respondents to the Monmouth poll who believe there is such a body are correct in their surmise, we have a problem that goes well beyond anything we could correct by electoral means. But there’s that word if again. Is it so?

     Certainly, conditions are ripe for the emergence of such a body:

  1. Federal employees are protected from termination by Civil Service law.
  2. Voluntary resignations by federal employees are vanishingly few in number.
  3. Many layers of supervisors stand between the bureaucrat and the elected government.
  4. A supervisor-bureaucrat who fails to argue consistently for the expansion of his pyramid of subordinates (and, of course, the funding for it) will not survive. This is well known to career bureaucrats.
  5. As the funding for the bureaucracy is extracted by force from millions of persons who have no say in the matter, the top-level bureaucrat – e.g., a Cabinet Secretary – will have no qualms about championing the expansive desires of his subordinates. (Remember that by Item 4 above, Cabinet Secretaries also have an interest in expanding their departments and funding.)

     Those are perfect enabling conditions for a “deep state.” They’ve existed for decades. Thus those who:

  • Desire authority without responsibility;
  • Seek to wield it with their supervisors’ approval;
  • Are principally concerned with job security and retirement benefits;

     ...have had a perfect place to gather for at least eighty-five years. Is it plausible that persons of that orientation would not gather under such an umbrella? Isn’t it more likely that such persons would aim for those jobs and pursue them with impassioned ardor? And isn’t it likely, as is the case in union shops nationwide, that when such persons encounter a “maverick” – i.e., one whose schedule of priorities differs greatly from theirs – that they’d do their best to flush him out of their habitat?

     Cyril Northcote Parkinson wasn’t merely right; he was a visionary, a genius.

     Where shall we seek a solution?

Margaret Atwood - Demonized

I found a fascinating explanation of how the renowned writer came to be on the outs with the Canadian Feminist crowd. It explains the very narrow opportunities for Canadian writers, and the precarious position of those who are unlikely to achieve any success in their field.

In Canada, most of the writers are supported, at least in part, by the government, through grants. They learn to go along with the majority, and not rock the boat.

For her defiance of that custom, Margaret Atwood was singled out for the Full Salem Treatment. Notwithstanding her lengthy Feminist credentials, and her reputation, she was selected to be exposed as a "witch" and destroyed.

There have been several famous Witch Hunts (the pack attacking and destroying presumed sexual aggressors.
  • The Duke Lacrosse players "rape" case - BTW, you know you've been vindicated when even Wikipedia admits that the charges were false.
  • The "Mattress Girl" charges - apparently, fighting expulsion and winning is not enough to keep you from public harrassment.
  • The many Harvey Weinstein accusations - some of the are quite serious, and involve women under 21 (who, presumably, might have not developed the mature judgement that might have kept the safe). The ones that were very young, have some cause for redress. Similarly, the ones that he employed and harrassed. However, any grown woman who takes a meeting in a man's hotel room, and doesn't give up her chance at a role by leaving, loses a lot of credibility with me. There's a word for that transaction.
  • The Donald Trump accusers - read Wikipedia's summary, and judge for yourself. For myself, I do think he was a graceless maker-of-passes, but there really is no evidence of actual assault. Like many people, I believe that, if he weren't so famous and rich, they never would have made the claims. And, if he wasn't so famous and rich, they'd not have been hanging around, flirting.
Some of these guys were, apparently, innocent. Others, less so. Time may cool off some of the rancor, and allow the accused to regain some of their reputation.

That leaves the accusers and the horde that cries out for justice. What happens when the reason for the outcry disappears? Do they just return to the status quo?

What happened in Salem after the Witch Trials stopped? According to this article in the Salem Journal, a few apologized, but most did not.

Surprisingly, the wrongly accused that survived received compensation that the dead and their families did not. Only later did the families of those put to death received any money.

[WARNING] MOST of the treatments on the Salem Witch Trials feel obligated to bring in reference to the McCarthy hearings, and assume that the Reds accused were, in fact, innocent victims. Having read Whittaker Chambers' Witness, the Radosh's Red Star Over Hollywood, and other treatments of that time period, I view that supposed assumption with some distrust.

Apparently not. While most, if not all, of the outraged women have allowed their rage to subside, there are a core - still angry, loud, and eager to shred the lives of, not only the accused, but also those who speak of the prudence of waiting for evidence of a crime, and a trial. And, that's the situation that Atwood finds herself in - she is being viciously attacked by those who still rage, and they cannot bring themselves to stop.

To get a sense of the kind of writing that stirs up the HATRED that Atwood has been subjected to, read this mischievous rendering of a well-known story.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cell phone interruption.

Pearls of expression.

As a New Zealander, and therefore a leading expert on ‘Aussies’, my theory is that humans are not designed to live on such a sun-baked continent, and eventually all go ‘troppo’. It is likely that the sun fries the cerebral cortex and reduces man to a sort of lizard state, which we see most clearly in the form of the Australian cricket team – but I will admit, my science is rather rudimentary at this stage, and full publication of the theory on Unz may be some time away.
Cowboy Shaw replying to Barko on "Meet Australian Aborigines–They Make African Americans Look Like A Model Minority." By Lance Welton, The Unz Review, 3/14/18.

Leaving Social Media?

This guy makes some sense about Social Media - and how little it may help any of us in our marketing endeavors.
Then there are the awful economics for actual producers of content. Social media companies are designed to profit off our free labor while they treat us like garbage. For example, I have 11,000 Twitter followers, but I don’t know who they are or have any independent way of contacting them. In effect, I have spent years building up a mailing list for Twitter, not myself. What kind of raw deal is that?
 One thing he mentions is that exiting the SocMed might be quite beneficial, as those opinions and content that don't fit into the Leftist Straightjacket can easily be banished, with no recourse. We might find ourself in a better position, as well as a less SocMed-dependent one, if we consciously make the effort to cultivate the independent media, both as sources, and as referrals.

Especially the mailing lists - could we add a button here to start that process?

Attention! Cheap Fiction!

     Hans G. Schantz has just put his book A Rambling Wreck, the second volume in his The Hidden Truth series, on sale at Amazon for only $0.99. That price will obtain all week. Get it while it’s fresh and hot!

Quickies: A Hate Crime

     This happened in my vicinity, at a church where I sometimes attend Mass:

     PORT JEFFERSON STATION, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A statue of the Virgin Mary was beheaded in Port Jefferson Station over the weekend, according to Suffolk County Police.

     The statue was vandalized at the Church of Saint [Gerard] Majella in Port Jefferson Station sometime between Friday and Sunday.

     Investigators are treating the matter as a hate crime.

     It’s easy to feel one’s blood boiling over an incident like this. It’s far harder to work out what might be done to prevent anything like it. The haters of Christianity are always on offense. It’s impossible to predict where they’ll strike next. Will they deface a church? Ruin other statues or sacred images? Assault churchgoers, whether going to or coming from? Assault priests and rectories? Who can say?

     I hope it was a couple of drunken teenagers, as one commenter to the linked article suggested. All the other possibilities are worse. There’s no way to defend against any of them.

     Long Island’s Catholics are numerous. We tend to be strongly bonded to our parishes and protective of our churches. We’re heavy participants in local charity, both as donors and volunteer workers. But we can’t stand guard over what’s sacred to us twenty-four hours per day. That’s the haters’ biggest advantage.

     Perhaps prayer will help. It usually does.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Life is, Once Again, Stepping In

I just got a call from my daughter - my son-in-law's mother (suffering from brain cancer) is not expected to last much longer. I will be traveling soon, whether by car or, perhaps by bus, is not known, but I'm clearing up a lot of stuff right now.

I'll be washing clothes and re-packing for a possibly long stay in Cleveland. So, I may not have much time to write or post.

Here's something to keep you occupied - National Review has a nice summary of the Russia-Trump/Clinton-Fusion GPS mess, complete with backstory.

I'll plan on getting caught up as I am able.

A One-Way Door

     Some time ago, seized by fear over the escalation of racial hostility – 99% of which emanates from blacks toward whites – I wrote a story about the probable endpoint of the trend, should it continue unabated. If you’ve read it, you know immediately what I mean by the title of this piece. If you haven’t, I exhort you to read it before continuing on. Read the Afterword as well.

     The all-time classic one-way door is death. (I sometimes wonder whether the Grim Reaper was the true inventor of the diode, but...well, never mind.) The dead can’t affect the living, except through the influence of memory. Neither can groups, clans, tribes, or whole societies that have died, whether from plague, extermination, or by auto da fe.

     Races, nations, and generations currently stand before a one-way door. Some of them have laid their collective hands on the knob. Large groups stand behind them, ready to shove them through. You’d think it would be deemed more discussion-worthy than is currently the case.

     The future belongs to those who show up for it. – Mark Steyn

     The Industrial Revolution had many consequences for Mankind’s demographics. Most obviously, it provided Europeans of the Caucasian race with greatly increased wealth. Slightly less obviously, it conferred upon them the ability to range much farther in safety and (relative) comfort than their ancestors. And still less obviously though at least as important, as the Industrial Revolution progressed and expanded, it reshaped couples’ attitudes toward children.

     In a preindustrial society, where work is essentially a matter of manual labor (sometimes augmented by animals), children are an economic asset. They can share at least some of the labor. Moreover, since preindustrial couples produce greater numbers of children, and since preindustrial conditions of life result in a greater percent of deaths in childhood, such a society will value the lives of children less than would an industrialized one. The thought might be unpleasant, but it is so: supply and demand condition even the bonds of family and parenthood.

     As powered machinery grows and increases its capabilities, children become less economically valuable. Should the medical arts progress as well, fewer children will die of the diseases of infancy. The liberation of adults from manual farm labor will also increase their time apart from their kids, as parents use enhanced travel capabilities to work farther from home. These and other effects of industrialization will result in lowered birth rates and, over time, a transition in adults’ attitudes toward children: from economic assets to luxury goods.

     While there’s no clear causal connection between industrialization and the increase in the cost of childbearing and child-rearing, that has happened in every industrialized society on Earth. As people protect the things they value, and tend to value things according to scarcity and cost, parents will become far more protective and indulgent toward their children as time passes.

     Certain competences must be acquired young. Particular aspects of dexterity of body and mind are far more easily mastered by a child than by an adult. For example, few persons of mature years are able to master new languages, or learn how to write in cursive. Mastering the special disciplines of algebra, geometry, and analytical mathematics in adulthood is even less likely. If these skills are not acquired young, the odds are heavily against acquiring them at all.

     Developments that have become visible over the past couple of decades have impeded children’s acquisition of various skills that their parents and grandparents absorbed as a matter of course. Not many kids acquire a legible cursive hand these days. Indeed, some groups discourage the teaching of cursive as “no longer relevant.” Other groups, as incredible as it seems, have protested the traditional curricula of mathematics as unnecessary if not “racist.” If the prima facie skills themselves were of critical importance, the gravity of the matter would be far plainer than it is. However, in all candor, the ability to write neatly in cursive and the ability to find the maxima and minima of a function are of little immediate importance to all but a few Americans.

     What really matter are the meta-disciplines that lie beneath them: precise control of one’s body, the ability to learn in an organized fashion, and the ability to reason logically from postulates and evidence.

     Ironically, the decline in our fertility rate has correlated with a decline in our willingness to take up cudgels in defense of these time-honored roads to learning critical disciplines. Perhaps we’re overawed by the cultists of “educationism,” who’ve been haranguing us that they’re “outmoded.” Perhaps we figure that, considering what we’re paying for the schools, the people who run them must know what they’re doing. Or perhaps we’re simply too tired to wrench Junior away from his Xbox.

     A dear friend has often speculated about “what will happen after the crash.” He’s convinced that an event of some sort will strip us of all the technology we’ve developed over the past century or so: what we have and our ability to make more of it. Though those technologies have become self-sustaining, they were bootstrapped from far more basic knowledge, skills, and tools: pencils, slide rules, soldering irons, and extensive knowledge of the sciences. Many of those who were part of the bootstrapping are gone now; the rest will disappear in a generation or two. Should our progeny lose what we’ve bequeathed them after we’ve vanished, would the kiddies be able to recreate it?

     My friend is of the opinion that they won’t – that there will come a long Dark Age during which our posterity will have to clamber slowly up from the mud, much as the Cro-Magnons did. He has a good case for it. By indulging our children in the “right” to be ignorant of anything except how to use their smartphones and Google, we’ve denied them the bootstrapping competences that were required to produce our current technologies. Never mind that it was with the kiddies’ willing cooperation; the effect will be no less crippling for that.

     No sensible man would want to see the above trends continue. Worse, they tie into the larger demographic trends, in which the most primitive and intolerant segments of Mankind are swiftly out-reproducing the most advanced and tolerant ones. Worse still, the primitives, owing to contemporary, highly pernicious notions about “equality” and “cultural relativism,” are invading and degrading our advanced societies in the process, often with the connivance of influential Marxist and Frankfurt School activist groups.

     These processes constitute a red-carpeted path toward a giant one-way door. The legend over that door is easy to read:

Goodbye To The Christian Enlightenment

     ...but few are willing to read it.

     Some additional reading and viewing for you:

     ...and don’t tolerate anyone calling you “Racist!” for any of it.

Nearly Spring, So...

It's almost time for the Border Crossing Season to begin!

[NOTE: I actually don't know whether border jumpers have a season, but...]

Just in time, there is a campaign for ICE to be eliminated.

Because, racist.

Chemical agents alleged to have been used by Russia in Skripils’s poisoning.

What is totally insane about all of these allegations against Russia is that so far they have not identified the nerve agent that was used against Skrpil and his daughter. As far as one can tell from what the British have revealed about this attempted killing is that the agent is an organophosphate triester acety choline (ach) inhibitor. This is a class of chemicals that include hundreds if not thousands of different compounds. As a matter of fact most of these compounds can be synthesized in very simple labs if there is an individual that has the knowledge. It would be possible to put together such a lab in a single family house with a natural gas, electric hook ups and a good kitchen sink along with a few thousand dollars to purchase the right flasks, pumps and temperature controllers.

The suggestion by May that Russia is one of the only countries in the world capable of making this stuff is totally laughable. In the last 80 years the organophosphate neurotoxins have been used by and produced by dozens of countries as insecticides. These chemicals were discovered by German chemists in the 1920s. The difference between an insecticide and a chemical warfare agent is no more than a simple side chain about the phosphate core.

At this point there close to zero evidence that the agent used to intoxicate the Skripils was something uniquely available to Russia.[1]

I understand that sarin is not something that you can mix up in your garage. I read that the oddball Japanese sect that released sarin in the subway years ago brewed their own but they actually had considerable resources to produce it safely. That said, I don’t know offhand whether sarin is also an organophosphate triester ach inhibitor like this 'Novichok' or Novichok-type agent.

It does seem clear that it is highly likely that the nature of the potent new agent became known at a minimum to the U.S.:

Since its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has been working with the government of the United States to dismantle and decontaminate the sites where the Novichok agents and other chemical weapons were tested and developed.[2]
If a technical person is going to decontaminate an area, he has to know what kind of a problem he has. His first question would most definitely be, “What have we got here?”

Bottom line: even if U.K. Prime Minister May has correctly identified the substance used in the attack on the Skripils, it cannot be said that only the Russians knew the formula and only they could manufacture it.

[1] Comment by ToivoS on “Theresa May's '45 Minutes' Moment.” By b, Moon of Alabama, 3/12/18.
[2] Wikepedia quoted by b, supra.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Disturbing Development

     Apparently, Amazon has been deleting reviews of the books of conservative and libertarian writers. At any rate, reviews are disappearing some time after they were posted and noted by the books’ authors. Amazon has declined to explain the phenomenon to the affected writers.

     It appears that yet another front in the political wars has just been opened.

     If you’re an indie writer, as I am, reviews are a precious, irreplaceable marketing tool. A bevy of positive reviews will help to sell a book better than any other tool in the indie writer’s kit. While it can’t be traced directly to a decline in revenue, the loss of reviews certainly imperils future sales. So it’s understandable that a writer who sees his book’s review count decreasing would be concerned.

     Mind you, I have no idea whether reviews are also disappearing from books written by persons on the Left. I’ve heard nothing about it. But if the reasons are political, it’s an ugly trend.

     You’d think that Amazon, which has as much interest in selling books as the writers who market them there, would be averse to such a phenomenon. A private company is supposed to care strictly about the bottom line, right? Profit and loss rule the corporate boardroom, right? But there have been other developments, analogous to this one, that suggest that that’s not always the case. At any rate, profit and loss are abstractions; different people conceive of them differently, and not always in dollars-and-cents terms.

     Alternately, Amazon might have been infiltrated, as have many other companies, by the SJW set – and those are folks whose highest priority is denying the Right a platform. Given that Amazon is by far the largest online retailer of entertainment of all sorts, it’s obvious that the Left would regard it as a juicy target. So the probability that Amazon has been under attack from within is high. The probability that some infiltrators have gotten inside and are laboring to warp the company’s practices is just as high.

     Disturbing indeed. As Amazon is without a significant competitor in the eBook retailing business, it has ugly implications for the market for fiction packaged that way.

     It would be easy to conceive of this as a problem specifically for writers on the Right. It isn’t that alone. It’s also a problem for readers hungry for such a writer’s variety of fiction.

     Good fiction is not tied to one’s politics. Neither need it display the writer’s political orientation. I’ve enjoyed the works of many writers whose politics is left-liberal; Ursula LeGuin and Lois McMaster Bujold come to mind at once. But these are good writers; their stories are good ones, well told. Their politics is irrelevant to their storytelling ability, and to my ability to enjoy what they write.

     It is shameful that anyone should hope to disadvantage a writer, and those who have enjoyed or could enjoy his work, simply because of his politics. But in our take-no-prisoners political milieu, it’s all too thinkable that persons to whom politics is everything would endeavor to do so.

     For a long time, persons uninterested in the quality of a book have “reviewed” it according to the (perceived) political bent of the author. Most such “reviewers” hadn’t even read the book in question. That was bad – bad enough that Amazon tried to remedy it part way with the “Verified Purchaser” tag, But against a movement from inside Amazon, quite likely no remedy will be offered.

     Amazon’s standing in the eBook market makes this an urgent problem. Does anyone have any ideas about a corrective the indie-writer community could implement, whether at Amazon or elsewhere?

Evolutionary Muellerism.

Ms. Baldwin has a very good take on the chameleon-like nature of the Mueller “investigation”:
The most notable thing about the Mueller investigation to anyone who takes a sober look at it is its constantly evolving purpose. First, the purpose of the investigation was to find any evidence to support the allegation that Russia had hacked into the DNC’s emails. When no substantial evidence could be found to support that allegation, the purpose evolved into collusion between Trump and Russia to steal the election on behalf of Trump.

When no substantial evidence could be found to support that allegation, the purpose evolved yet again into Russia influencing the election on behalf of Trump, possibly without his knowledge or participation. When no substantial evidence could be found to support that allegation and all that could be found was a paltry number of social media ad buys – many of which were purchased after the election or advocated conflicting positions or didn’t even have anything to do with the election, the purpose became “sowing discord.”[1]

Mueller’s role in anything to do with the run up to the election and post-election events is itself an absurdity given his conflict of interest in being friends with former FBI Director Comey.

Hillary’s and the FBI’s clear involvement in financing the so-called “Steele Dossier” puts Comey in the crosshairs of any honest inquiry into any supposed Russian attempt to influence the election. Whether they sought to aid or hinder Trump is irrelevant. The issue is not whom they purported to help but whether they did anything at all.

On the dossier issue, why is it obvious that Comey would categorically have been uninvolved? Mueller has a conflict of interest because he would naturally be loathe to pursue a friend vigorously and objectively. And it would be laughable for him to contend that his brief is a limited one and therefore would not entail examination of other issues of possible criminality surrounding the dossier and its use in obtaining the now FISA warrants, since he has shown enthusiasm for straying off the reservation of his original charge and roaming far afield at that.

[1] "Acceptable Bigotry and Scapegoating of Russia." By Natylie Baldwin,, 3/15/18 (emphasis added).

Saturday, March 17, 2018

I Could Get Into This... least, if I were terminally ill:

     Have you ever wanted to reply to a clearly dishonest panhandler in such a fashion? I have.

     If you’re wondering, the scene above is from Interstate 60, a genuinely marvelous and uplifting movie that hasn’t received nearly the audience it deserves. Yes, it’s essentially a fantasy – among other things, there is no Interstate 60 – but it skewers many aspects of contemporary life that range from deplorable to ludicrous, and it does so humorously enough that the viewer can get the point without feeling he’s being proselytized. It had me cheering. I recommend it highly.

     There are days when it seems that no one says what he means. It’s a political plague, to be sure, which is a great part of the reason we elected Donald Trump to the presidency. But it’s also pandemic throughout commerce, the media, and law enforcement.

     For example, New York State law permits the police to lie to a suspect if they believe it will help their investigation. Federal agents routinely lie to targets to induce the results they want – in some cases, a statement from the target that the FBI can characterize as a lie to a federal agent: a prosecutable offense. And when was the last time you heard a straight question met with a straight answer during a Congressional hearing?

     At one time – and for all I know it could still be this way – a trial lawyer conducting a witness examination could compel the witness to answer a yes-or-no question with a yes-or-no answer. Whence arose the old gag about “Have you stopped beating your wife?” – a question which cannot be answered yes or no without damaging the witness. Typically the presiding judge could rule such a question out of bounds. Yet there are other questions that no judge would dare to rule out of bounds that are just as damaging. Here’s one: “Would it shake your faith in the defendant’s innocence if you were to learn that he’s been convicted of armed robbery?”

     Try answering that one yes or no without harming your credibility.

     I made use of this sort of deceit by implication in Statesman:

     The head of the Wooster defense cadre rose from his seat to stand immediately across from Redmond. He led off with twenty minutes’ worth of utterly mundane questions about the engineer’s age, marital status, education, employment history, and duties at OA. He paced his questions in a deliberate, placid manner. It was obvious to Sumner that he was trying to put Redmond at ease, setting him up for a Sunday punch.
     It took exactly the shape and substance that Sumner had anticipated and feared.
     “Have you ever been involved in a criminal trial before, Mr. Redmond?” the lawyer said.
     “What about a civil matter?”
     “Have you ever been called for jury service?”
     Weems smiled coldly. “Then I suppose no officer of the court has ever asked you about your penchant for violence?”
     Sumner tensed.
     “Well, wouldn’t you agree that one who has a habit of settling disputes with his fists would make a poor witness to a criminal action?”
     Redmond’s eyebrows rose. “Would you care to be more specific, Counselor?”
     Weems’s smile brightened to victorious intensity. He lowered his basso voice to its most grandiose octave. “How do you think the trial jury would react to hearing that you’d committed a felonious assault against a law-abiding citizen?”
     This is it. Either he dives across the table and throttles the bastard now, or we’re home free.
     Redmond looked briefly away.
     “I would more adversely than your wife would react to hearing that you’d been downloading and storing child pornography on your office computer.”
     Sumner came to full alert. The D.D.A.’s mouth dropped open. The stenographers gasped. Weems’s face went from incredulity to astonishment to fury.
     “How dare you!”
     He cocked an arm to strike Louis Redmond and swung with obvious force.
     With a move both swift and casual, Redmond caught the lawyer’s wrist before the blow could descend. He seemed to do nothing more. Yet six foot four, heavyset Horace Weems, one of the most feared defense lawyers in the Northeast, paled and staggered. He looked about to drop to his knees.
     “Perhaps you should sit, Counselor.”
     Weems sat. Redmond released the lawyer’s wrist and steepled his hands before him.
     “Under the law that governs slander,” Redmond said, “were you to say explicitly that I’ve committed a felony, I could take legal action against you for it. If it were to happen on federal government property, it might be a matter for the federal courts. Your only defense would be to produce court records to confirm your claim. So tell me, Counselor: do you have such records to present to such a court?”
     Weems’s eyes were fixed upon Louis Redmond. He said nothing.
     “Now as it happens,” Redmond continued, “I understood exactly what you said. You didn’t make an accusation that the law would deem actionable. You merely posed a hypothetical question that invited me and the others present to infer that you could do so. But as it happens, I have never even been stopped for a traffic violation, and I resent your insinuation to the contrary. So in reply, I invited these others to infer that you’re a consumer of the vilest imaginable entertainment. I would say, based purely on your reaction, that you didn’t like it much. Do you think you’d like it any better if I were to do it in open court, with a judge and jury listening?”

     Ballsy, eh? Trouble is, you’d have to be hyper-alert and absolutely ready to react in so pungent a fashion. (You’d have to be Louis Redmond.) I shan’t claim to speak for anyone but myself, but a question such as that would throw me for a loop.

     But if we were to severely discourage deliberate lies, misdirection, and obfuscation by persons in positions of authority or trust, the problem wouldn’t exist.

     Straight talk – the plain and open expression of what one really means – is more endangered than any species on the EPA’s list. Everyone “talks around the subject,” and the more important the subject, the more circuitous the circumlocutions. Think of a few subjects in the national discourse:

  • Race
  • Immigration
  • “Rape culture”
  • Federal deficits
  • Federal handouts
  • UnConstitutional laws
  • Governmental corruption
  • The failure of public schools
  • Political office as a life career
  • The corruption of our elections

     That’s ten, right off the hairless top of my pointy little head. Virtually no one with a voice in the national discourse talks straight about any of them. How many more could you come up with if you were to give it an hour’s thought?

     Now and then someone will violate the taboo on saying what people need to hear – a Pat Buchanan will declaim about America’s “world policeman” follies, or a Ron Paul will pull the mask away from the organized crime syndicate we call the Federal Reserve system – and the big guns, the major figures in politics and media, will immediately roll up and start blasting the upstart.

     Have a little C. S. Lewis for a conclusion:

     Consider too what undesirable deaths occur in wartime. Men are killed in places where they knew they might be killed and to which they go, if they are at all of the Enemy's party, prepared. How much better for us if all humans died in costly nursing homes amid doctors who lie, nurses who lie, friends who lie, as we have trained them, promising life to the dying, encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence, and even, if our workers know their job, withholding all suggestion of a priest lest it should betray to the sick man his true condition! [From The Screwtape Letters]

     If anyone deserves the straight truth, surely it would be a dying man. But how often does a man in such straits receive such truth, unfiltered and undecorated? And if we are so ready and willing to lie to him, where can we reliably find the truth? Whom can we trust?

     It’s enough to make me sick. But short of donning a dynamite vest and playing brinksmanship games such as the one in the opening clip, how do we put an end to it?

New U.S. outrage in the works.

Well, it appears that Assad is a relentless glutton for punishment, because not even a year later, the WaPo reported two weeks ago that the US is considering a new military action against Syria for - what else - retaliation against Assad's latest chemical attack, which took place several weeks earlier.

How do we know Assad (and apparently, Russia) was behind the attack? We don't: in fact, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a moment of bizarre honesty, admitted that he really doesn't know much at all about "whoever conducted the attacks" But hey: just like it is "highly likely" that Russia poisoned the former Russian double agent in the UK - with no proof yet - so it is "highly likely" that a clearly irrational Assad was once again behind an attack which he knew would provoke violent and aggressive retaliation by the US, and once again destabilize his regime.[1]

Flogging the “chemical weapons” dead horse for every last ounce of mendacious propaganda for arrogant U.S. aggressive war. It's what's for dinner.

I don’t know about you but dictating who rules Syria and how, playing chest bump with the Russians, cozying up to Saudis and Qataris, pushing lies about Iran's being the chief sponsor of terrorism, and setting the stage for war with Iran are way, way down there on my “to do” list. I get it that we haven't had a trade surplus since, what, 1975. Aggressive action on trade long overdue? Check. Clear as day.

But opening up a yet wider gush from the U.S. fiscal artery for pointless, illegal foreign war I don't get, yet such war and its enormous costs seem to captivate the thinking of U.S. moron elites. Pressing problems at home? MaƱana!

It appears that where it really counts, President Trump is nowhere to be found. Campaign skepticism about foreign adventure has been replaced with mindless surrender to the neocon crazies. Ready, fire, aim!

[1] "Russia Claims US Deploys Warships For Imminent Attack On Syria, Trains Militants For False Flag Attack." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge 3/17/18.