Wednesday, November 30, 2016

From Hypothesis To Premise To Piety

     The mystery of where the milk went to was soon cleared up. It was mixed every day into the pigs' mash. The early apples were now ripening, and the grass of the orchard was littered with windfalls. The animals had assumed as a matter of course that these would be shared out equally; one day, however, the order went forth that all the windfalls were to be collected and brought to the harness-room for the use of the pigs. At this some of the other animals murmured, but it was no use. All the pigs were in full agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon. Squealer was sent to make the necessary explanations to the others.
     "Comrades!" he cried. "You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back! Surely, comrades," cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, "surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?"
     Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of, it was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this light, they had no more to say. The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.

     [George Orwell, Animal Farm]

     If there’s a mandatory-reading article anywhere on the Web this morning, it would be John Tierney’s excellent, nearly encyclopedic survey of the Left’s exploitation of “science.” The Left’s “war on science” claims about the Right have been a critical part of the American political discourse for several decades. Yet – surprise, surprise – virtually no media attention has gone to the identities and tactics of the real perpetrators of the attack on science and scientific thought.

     To unearth those identities and tactics, it’s mandatory that we first be absolutely clear about what we’re talking about when we discuss “science.” It’s been long enough since I was in school that I cannot say whether the nature of the scientific method is still taught there:

  1. Note a pattern in observable natural phenomena.
  2. Formulate a hypothesis that might explain that pattern.
  3. Examine the hypothesis for its causal implications.
  4. Design experiments to test all those implications.
  5. Perform experiments:
    • Under carefully controlled initial conditions;
    • With safeguards against “experimenter interactions” and “confirmation bias;”
    • And full attention to the time intervals involved.
  6. Match the observed results of the experiments to the causal implications of the hypothesis:
    1. If the results conform to what the implications predict, the hypothesis survives. (alternately, “is confirmed.”)
    2. If the results fail to conform to those predictions, the hypothesis is disproved.

     Note that according to step 6.2 in the above, one nonconforming result is sufficient to disprove a hypothesis. There are no exceptions to this rule. In contrast, though the hypothesis survives any number of conforming results, no accumulation of conforming results is sufficient to prove the hypothesis for all time. In shorter and much more imperative terms:

The Science Is Never Settled.

     That is the foundation of all scientific inquiry.

     My years in the sciences acquainted me intimately with the problem of faith as a substitute for science. Faith is relevant only to propositions that can never be either proved or disproved. Yet faith has been critically important to the flacksters of the “anthropogenic global warming” hypothesis. Those...persons, frustrated with their lack of success at getting sufficient “buy-in” from the general public to support their political ambitions, are the ones best known for the use of the phrase “The science is settled.”

     In this connection, refer back to the previous segment. “Anthropogenic global warming” is a hypothesis. It has several clear causal implications. However, the predictions founded on those implications have been contradicted by real-world observations. By the rules of real science, that’s sufficient to disprove the hypothesis. That’s why the warmistas harp on the results emitted by their beloved “models.”

     But that hypothesis is too precious for the Left to allow it to be discarded. It supports their fondest aspiration: accession to total control of the world economy...and therefore, of the world. So they repeat that “The science is settled” in every available venue, hoping to win the day for their cause by exploiting the widespread ignorance about the nature of science through repetitious browbeating.

     This is the first step: the recasting of what started as a scientific hypothesis – a proposition with causal implications to be tested through experimentation – into an unchallengeable premise.

     In a number of cases, no amount nor intensity of repetitious browbeating will suffice to “close the deal.” The hypothesis cannot be made into a premise for a simple reason: the evidence of its falsity is too widely available and is too easily observed and comprehended. If the proposition is to survive, more will be required of those who insist upon it. The faith must be “established:” i.e., made into a social piety of which no discussion will be tolerated.

     Social pieties are dangerous things to question. As I wrote in that earlier essay:

     One cannot challenge the pieties of a society without provoking condemnation or ostracism. To question a piety, even along its margins, is to ask to be thrown out of the church. This is an absolute that applies to all peoples and times.

     Pieties have their dangers. The unquestioned belief, in late 17th Century France, that Catholics were morally superior to Huguenots allowed Louis XIV to revoke the Edict of Nantes, the decree of religious tolerance for the Protestant minority. The resulting mass emigration of Huguenots to Belgium weakened France severely, as the Huguenots were among the most industrious and educated persons of northern France. Indeed, part of the Catholic animosity toward them was that they worked on Sundays, and thus had a competitive edge over Catholics in business and commerce.

     If we are in thrall to a piety contrary to the actual facts of our society, we are in danger too. The question is only of degree.

     Thus the Left sees the elevation of a cherished hypothesis to a social piety as a supreme achievement – a supreme political achievement. It’s a close parallel to the creation of an established church in which membership is mandatory for all subjects. No one wants to be thrown out of such a church; the foreseeable consequences are too dreadful to contemplate. Heretics have all too often been burned at the stake.

     The transformation of hypothesis into a piety requires two steps:

  • The association of dissent with something near-unanimously regarded as shameful;
  • The placement of any contradicting facts, no matter how widely available and easily comprehended, beyond polite examination or discussion (i.e., “tabooing” the subject).

     Note how the Left has achieved this in its promotion of “racial equality” – and note how complete is the contrast with the observable facts.

     I could go on about this for many pages, but I’ll spare you. For most Americans, the essential part is to be aware of the process that converts a hypothesis to a premise and / or to a piety, the reasons for it, and the steps the Left and its fellow travelers take to achieve it.

     At this time, the Left is in retreat politically. However, its aims will not permit it to back away; therefore, it has “doubled down” on the methods above, and has chosen to treat new subjects to those methods. Consider in this light the Left’s treatment of particular figures in the incoming Trump Administration as “fascists” or “Nazis.”

     But to return to John Tierney’s core thesis, the greatest of ironies can be found in this: The Left alleges that it’s the Right that’s conducting a “war on science.” It’s attempted by repetition to make that proposition as unchallengeable a premise as “anthropogenic global warming.” The campaign has largely failed, for which reason we may expect the Left to attempt to make “the Right’s war on science” into a piety, for example by associating conservatives’ observations about differences in academic performance among the races, sexes, and ethnicities with “a desire to bring back slavery.”

     You might want to bookmark this essay. Forewarned is forearmed. The weapons are your keenness of observation and willingness to dispute Leftists’ assertions with sharp, evidence-based questions. I hope I’ve provided a sufficiency of ammunition.

Gays, Muslims, and feminists – keepin' it real.

In April 2017, Fillon, an Anglophile and practicing Catholic, could conceivably confront Marine Le Pen, the anti-Islamist leader of the National Front, in the second and conclusive round of the French presidential election. If so, the pundits will find that their old mental maps have been rendered useless in a conflict between two “conservative” candidates. That’s because the working-class vote, once claimed by the Left, has been abandoned by the French Socialists, who, like their counterparts in America, have run off in pursuit of an incoherent alliance of gay, Muslim, and feminist voters.
"French Twist. How Marine Le Pen quietly became the left-wing candidate in the French elections." By Fred Siegel, City Journal, 11/30/16.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Other People’s Money And Other People’s Lives

     The Left has unrolled its customary screen of defensive dithyrambs in the wake of the death of Fidel Castro.

  • “He educated the whole country!”
  • “He gave them free health care!”
  • And of course, “The U.S. kept trying to assassinate him!”

     We’re deluged with them whenever anyone dares to mention that Castro was a murderous thug who reduced the entire country (except for his cronies) to poverty, imprisoned, tortured, and killed anyone who dared oppose his regime, used Cuba’s skilled professionals as trade goods, and welcomed Soviet nuclear-armed IRBMs into his nation. Apparently the Left believes that “free health care” trumps that list of peccadilloes.

     (Try asking a Leftist whether a Castro-level program of tyranny would be justified if it could bring “free health care” to the United States. Ask from a significant distance. Report back on your results.)

     Of course, it’s all just rhetoric to them. The Left isn’t blind to the inherent contradictions of government-provided “free health care,” or free anything else. Otherwise they wouldn’t tie themselves into knots straining to justify ever higher levels of taxation. The only things that really matter are getting, keeping, and enlarging their power over us. The immediate launch of the “free health care” shibboleth is probably triggered by some subconscious mechanism they can’t override.

     One who believes in power over others must possess rationalizations with which to justify breaking the eggs to make his government-provided omelet. Otherwise he can’t maintain his belief in his superior wisdom and virtue.

     About three years ago, I wrote the following:

     A man has committed acts of sabotage to which he freely admits. Those acts have taken the lives of several persons presumed to have been innocent of all crimes. In the U.S., we would call those "felony murders," which are punished at least as harshly as any second-degree murder. His defense is to claim that the political system against which he fights justifies any and all such acts in the effort to overthrow it.

     If the story is stripped of any further details, most persons would say that the saboteur is guilty and deserves the full weight of the law. But there are further details: the saboteur was Nelson Mandela, and the context was apartheid South Africa.

     Let's stipulate that Mandela did mend his ways, to the extent of forgiving his enemies and striving for unity in post-apartheid South Africa. It remains an incontestable fact that as a young man he was personally involved in acts of sabotage that cost the lives of presumptive innocents. He was outspoken about it at his trial. That demands that we ask the core question of all civil uprisings: Does the situation Mandela fought against justify the violence he perpetrated?

     When he was tried in 1962, Nelson Mandela boasted of his acts of sabotage. Persons familiar with those events are virtually unanimous in condemning them and him. I’m one of them. South Africa’s apartheid regime was wrong, but it wasn’t murderous. Moreover, it was failing even then, as employers, landlords, and other South Africans devised ways to circumvent the apartheid laws.

     How, then, can we allow these attempts to justify Fidel Castro’s bloody and brutal reign of terror over Cuba?

     Few nations today are as brutally oppressed as Castro’s Cuba. North Korea and Iran come to mind. Venezuela comes pretty close. The rationalizations mounted by American Leftists for the actions of despots such as Venezuela’s Chavez and Maduro make a perfect parallel to those Leftists’ rationalizations of the actions of Fidel Castro.

     Apparently, to the Left a tyrant can make free with other people’s money and lives as long as he does it for the right reasons: e.g., “free health care.”

     I must post once more a brilliant snippet from a uniformly brilliant novel:

    "Your certainty is impressive," Ryan said. "It allows you to justify your faith in mass murder."
    "It's not murder," she said, "when the violence is justified by the revolution. The bourgeois regime being attacked is criminal and inhuman and all who are obedient to it are complicit in its interminable violence. In acts of revolutionary violence against the enemy anyone complicit with the enemy who is killed is guilty of the crime of the enemy. It is not murder."
    "So riding a subway train to work," Ryan said, "is a criminal act punishable by death?"
    "When seen in its true historical context, it certainly is," she said confidently.
    "Everyone on the subway is equally guilty," Ryan suggested.
    "No, not if you go person by person, a maid or janitor is not carrying the same level of guilt as a stockbroker or corporate executive, but revolutionary violence sweeps with an inclusive broom. The statement it makes is bold and absolute and is a warning to all...."
    "And what do you believe in, soldier boy? Gawd?"
    "In the individual and his liberty," Ryan said, rising to the bait.
    "Oh dear, an American. You people are so charming, so quaint," she said, "always the perpetual football players running onto the field to the roar of the crowd and the bouncing breasts of the cheerleaders."
    "You're an American, aren't you, Ms. Garvin?" he asked.
    "Ah, no," she said. "I stopped thinking of myself as that, as an American when I was a teenager. That's what we call 'the normal maturation process' these days, soldier boy. Sorry you missed it."
    "So you're not an American," Ryan said. "What are you?"
    "I'm a citizen of the world," she said.
    "That's a big concept," Ryan said.
    "It's basic," she said. "You must have missed it while you were attending your ROTC meetings."
    "I guess I did," Ryan said. "That would explain why I'm still just an American with a silly belief in freedom."
    Garvin laughed.
    "Freedom? You think this America is free? You've got ninety percent of the people glued to their couches gazing like zombies into their televisions and eating non-stop. And then they jump off their couches for five minutes of history when a couple of tall buildings are knocked down in New York. That's the America I see. That's the America the revolution sees. This freedom thing you believe in, soldier boy, is a fairy tale, just like Gawd. History is unfolding right before your eyes and you're running in the opposite direction after the fairies of freedom and the goblins of terrorism. You should run in the direction of revolutionary violence, all of you should, get out in front of it, get off this America thing, because it is dead, a thing of the past. America no longer exists. You just haven't realized it. None of you have....
    "What you people refuse to understand," Garvin said, jumping into the silence that had fallen over the room, "is that this freedom of yours is no more than pitiful self-indulgence at the expense of others. What the revolution does is take the anger and frustration of those who hunger for justice in the world and shape that into purposeful violence. You try to deny that by calling it 'senseless violence' and "mass murder,' but I'm looking at your faces now and I can see those old defenses and the lies that support them draining out of you. You all look like children who have just been told that there is no Santa Claus, and you had really known that all along. You just needed an adult to make it official for you. Well, here I am, kids, giving it to you straight, what you already knew."

     [Martin McPhillips, Corpse in Armor]

     Sorry, Leftists. “Free health care” cannot justify that program.


     CSO: Why on Earth are you whistling Keith Richards’s guitar break from “Time Is On My Side” at this hour?
     FWP: Possibly because I’m slowly going insane.

     CSO: You need to get out more.
     FWP: I think I need to get out less.

     CSO: That would be pretty hard to do. You could sign up with the parish to have the Eucharist brought to you.
     FWP: What, and just watch the Mass on television?

     CSO: Or on your computer.
     FWP: God, no! It arrives as a string of tweets.

     CSO: It beats the way the non-English-speakers get it.
     FWP: How’s that?

     CSO: Emojis.
     FWP: Get thee behind me, Satan!

     This marriage schtick has a definite downside.

Works for me.

Goodwhites pose as our moral superiors: so-o-o-o tolerant, open-minded, progressive, humane… But they are in fact, though, nasty pieces of work: vindictive, self-righteous, cruel, contemptuous of their fellow citizens.
"Moral Of The HAMILTON Hate Fest: These Goodwhites Are Nasty Pieces Of Work." By John Derbyshire,, 11/26/16.

Monday, November 28, 2016

One Explanation, But Not Necessarily A Complete One

     I’ve recently had my attention drawn to this piece by CBS News’s Will Rahn, which appeared on November 10. It’s impressive in many ways, most particularly in its heartfelt mea culpa for the torrent of press arrogance about the recently concluded election. However, I found one segment of it to provide extra food for thought:

     Journalists increasingly don’t even believe in the possibility of reasoned disagreement, and as such ascribe cynical motives to those who think about things a different way. We see this in the ongoing veneration of “facts,” the ones peddled by explainer websites and data journalists who believe themselves to be curiously post-ideological.

     This explanation for press smugness is actually a premise. It might not be accurate in all cases.

     As Rahn says above, a journalist who believes himself to be “absolutely correct” on some political issue would naturally tend to dismiss those who differ with him. He might be tempted to call them stupid or, if he were feeling a trifle generous, perhaps misinformed. Alternately, if he were the sort to ascribe dark motives to those who disagree with him, he might do so in such a case. But what about the journalist who knows an insufficient amount about the issue to have an opinion of significance, and is aware of it? Given that he knows he cannot justify holding a firm opinion, how would we explain his denigration of those who “differ with him?”

     What comes to mind immediately is the utilitarian value to the journalist of “borrowing” a firm position, specifically because it’s fiercely promoted by someone else – someone important to him. A few candidates:

  • His wife;
  • The editors of his news outlet;
  • Important political figures who’ve granted him access;
  • A candidate for office who has promised him an appointment in the event of victory.

     The sort of prose such a journalist would emit on the issue in question would be just as dismissive and just as demeaning of those who “differ with him,” even though they’re really not differing with him, but with that important figure he hopes to placate or propitiate. Thus can a journalist find a reason for prostituting himself at the expense of the public he claims to serve.

     It’s a sad thing to find oneself ready to disbelieve in the sincerity of others. It’s even worse when those others supposedly work to “keep us informed.” But sometimes there are good and sufficient reasons, which is why the greater part of the reading public rates the “news media” as less trustworthy than the average three card Monte hustler.

Cancerous Lumps Continued: The Dreaded Prologue

     As yesterday’s piece on this subject has proved surprisingly popular, it’s impelled me to think further about the subject, particularly as it connects to the all-important realm of backstory.

     Every writer struggles with backstory. It’s a particular challenge for those of us who work in a speculative genre: science fiction, fantasy, or horror. SF writers, in particular, are under immense pressure to explain things: the sociopolitical nature of their fictional world; the scientific discoveries and technological developments that have occurred in it; the social, economic, and political positions of its most important figures. There’s this sense that the reader needs the information to grasp what will follow: what brought about the story’s initial conditions and why the actions of the characters are rational (if they are). That sense is not always incorrect. (NB: The periphrasis in the concluding sentence of the paragraph immediately above should imply something. That’s the only hint I’ll give you. And now, back to our Swedish movie.)

     To serve that sense of a need, the writer will often resort to a prologue.

     The purpose of a prologue is to convey backstory information to the reader. It can be as narratively clever as any segment clipped from the story-time present, but it is not part of the story; it is prior to the story, often separated from story-present by a large number of years. In most cases, no one involved in the prologue participates in the story’s present events.

     Just now, Pub World editors deem prologues to be bad things. They have a good case, for a prologue puts the reasons the reader bought the book some distance from the front cover. A long or awkward prologue can cause the reader to toss the book aside. If the writer has done his job really badly, that can happen in the bookstore.

     Yet there are cases in which a prologue is vitally necessary. I’ve written one that I felt the novel couldn’t do without. I might have been wrong, but so far no one who’s gone on to read the whole book has complained about it. Of course, that omits the opinions of those who didn’t read the whole book, which might be the most important ones.

     The need or lack thereof for a prologue will always be a judgment call. No one but the author is qualified to make it. Accordingly, it behooves us to consider the following questions:

  • What makes a prologue desirable?
  • How can a prologue enhance the story?
  • How can a prologue discourage the reader?

     One of the most important architectural techniques in fiction goes by a Latin name: In media res. In English, that’s “in the middle of the matter.” It denotes the technique of dropping the reader into the middle of the action without any preparation: i.e., without prior acquaintance with the setting, the characters, or the backstory. The reader is immediately confronted with events important to one or more of the Marquee Characters and is compelled to claw for a purchase on them. The opening to On Broken Wings provides a good example:

     At first, there was only darkness, and a dim sense of upward motion, like swimming through dark water. Then there was light, and noise, and incredible pain.
     Christine half-remembered the crash, but had no idea where she was or what was being done to her. The flood of pain from her face blocked her rational powers. The perception of restraint threatened her sanity. A single phrase roared through the torture.
     "She's coming awake!"
     She surged upward against whatever was holding her. Strong hands pressed her back. Something metallic attached to her face, pulling upon it, tore loose and fell off to rest against her ear. Her scream could have shattered stone.
     A needle pierced her arm. Her terror flew beyond any recall. She dropped back into the darkness, certain she would never see light again.

     What’s happening in the above? If you’ve read the whole book, you already know, but did you have a firm idea before you proceeded to the subsequent material? If I managed to pique your interest with the opening, such that you felt a strong desire to discover what was going on, then my employment of in media res architecture was a success. If you frowned, muttered “I don’t have time for this,” and tossed the book aside, then I failed.

     When in media res works, which is often, it obviates the need for a prologue. Indeed, it makes adding a prologue a redundant notion, something that would insult the reader’s intelligence. But it will only work if the subsequent narration introduces the necessary information about what the reader has just read in a smooth and timely fashion: i.e., without creating any significant expository lumps. That, too, is a judgment the author isn’t guaranteed to get right.

     Perhaps the most famous dispute over whether a prologue was necessary concerns J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The first volume thereof, The Fellowship of the Ring, contains a fifteen-page, single spaced prologue packed densely with important information about hobbits, the Shire, and the world of Middle Earth. Quite a number of Tolkien’s critics considered that prologue unnecessary, owing to the existence of The Hobbit, his earlier novel about the adventures of the young Bilbo Baggins. Yet a considerable percentage of those who’ve read The Lord of the Rings did so without having read the earlier novel. Perhaps for them, the prologue was vitally necessary. Needless to say, the matter will never be unanimously agreed.

     A prologue can enhance the subsequent story when:

  • It’s kept brief;
  • It doesn’t digress;
  • It functions as a story of its own.

     Brevity, of course, is relative. Tolkien’s five thousand word prologue to The Lord of the Rings is followed by a half-million word fantasy adventure. The ratio is appropriate. But were that prologue attached to a shorter novel, it would look grotesquely disproportionate.

     The prologue to Which Art In Hope is just under 1800 words long. I fretted over it, fearing that so much precursory narrative might detract from what follows. Nevertheless, I found that I couldn’t reduce it in length without omitting details I felt the reader had to have before I dragged him into the story proper. In any event, “what follows” proved to be longer and wider in scope than I’d anticipated, which eventually allowed me to relax about the length of the prologue.

     A prologue can discourage the reader in several ways:

  • By being overly long or discursive;
  • By drowning the reader in too much detail;
  • By being unappealing as a separate narrative.

     I trust the first of those conditions is self-explanatory. No one picks up a 50,000 word novel – approximately 200 mass-market paperback pages – expecting to slog through a 50 page prologue. Proportion is essential. So also is a sense for the proper degree of detail. It’s vital to remain rigidly within Chekhov’s Law:

     “Everything not essential to the story must be ruthlessly cut away. If in Act One you say that a gun hung on the wall, then by Act Two or Act Three at the latest, it must be discharged.” – Anton Chekhov

     If you violate that precept in your prologue, you risk the very worst sort of “loose end:” the sort that has the reader wondering “why did he tell me that?” throughout the rest of the novel. So don’t!

     The third condition discriminates between narrative prologues, which tell a brief, dramatic story of their own, and “encyclopedia” prologues, which do nothing but convey information. The latter are inherently dry, anti-fictional. They’re very hard to get away with. It’s been done – see the earlier material about The Lord of the Rings -- but successes of the “encyclopedia” sort are rare.

     If you decide upon a prologue for your novel, try to structure it as a narrative of its own. Imagine a Marquee character or two within it, even if none will actually appear, and write it from their perspective. One constructive approach is “a story told around the campfire.” I heartily recommend it.

     So much for prologues. If you intend to pursue “conventional” publication, remember that the majority of editors frown upon them. If you decide to “go indie,” there’s still reason for caution. You want readers; more, you want those readers to finish the book. If they don’t, how likely are they to purchase your next book – or, God help us all, this one’s sequel?

     Best of luck.

     (Cross-posted to my fiction promotion site.)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beware: Cancerous Lump!

     The political news is becoming repetitive, and I already have a problem with repeating myself, so for today I’ll rule it out of bounds. But really, what does that leave for my Gentle Readers, many of whom are as hungry for fresh material as I always am?

     Fiction, perhaps.

     In your fiction reading, have you ever run into a passage that reads like a segment cut and pasted out of an encyclopedia, or perhaps a geography text? Perhaps something like the following:

     At last, after eleven years of traveling at trans-light seven, the Earth colonists had arrived at the planet his grandfather, Emilio Nandez, had discovered almost a century ago. Suspecting conditions on the planet were favorable for life, Emilio had convinced the Colonization Alliance of Independent Nations to send an auto-ship on a scouting mission. What the ship found exceeded even Emilio’s wildest dreams.
     Even though the planet had one small continent above sea level, it offered an interesting geological formation: a huge fissure that split the continent in half. Millions of years ago, the planet’s tectonic plates had formed a mountain range, leaving two valleys on either side. Dark green moss covered the thousands of canyons of the planet’s large valley, which was thousands of kilometers in length and stretched for hundreds of kilometers in width.
     Rivers, some a kilometer or more wide, and others narrow enough for a man to jump across, ran through the canyons, which split off from the large valley like branches on a tree. Spectacular waterfalls fell thousands of feet to the valley below.

     Behold, in all its dread beauty, the expository lump.

     What’s above is only half of the lump. It goes on for two more long paragraphs: approximately 400 words in toto. I simply haven’t the patience to type out the rest. It’s one of the most egregious cases I’ve seen lately...and it’s from a writer who prides himself on his writing and will tell you so.

     Anyone can fall into this trap. I certainly have. It had to be pointed out to me by a crack editor. It was a harsh but quite necessary lesson of a fundamental sort:

The reader is there for an emotional journey.

     The writer’s fascination with his imaginings (or his skill with words) is of no importance to the reader. The reader is there to experience events and changes in the lives of your characters, especially your protagonists. This flows from the never-too-often repeated Two Great Commandments of Fiction:

     1. The raw material of fiction is people.
     2. The essence of story is change.

     A landscape can be attractive, but what’s more important to the fiction reader is how the viewpoint character reacts emotionally (if he does) to the landscape. The backstory events of a novel can be critically important, but again, what really matters is how they influence the viewpoint character as he remembers them in the context of some significant story-time event.

     When a writer departs from the lives of his characters for a sizable expository lump, he risks causing the reader to disaffiliate himself from the characters – in other words, to lose his reason for reading the story. No matter how important the facts being conveyed in the lump, it’s a bad bargain. It risks a reader reaction so deadly that it’s usually referred to by its acronym: MEGO, or “Mine eyes glazeth over.”

     As if more were necessary, the innate dynamic of the expository lump, like all cancers, is to expand. The lump swells; the reader’s distance from the characters’ story-time lives and events tends to grow. The narrative loses focus from being drowned in exposition.

     The lethal power of the expository lump is one of the reasons for Elmore Leonard’s famous advice about descriptive passages:

Avoid writing passages the reader will be tempted to skip.

     Long descriptions of physical settings are the most obvious kind. Backstory exposition is just as poisonous to reader involvement, though often less obvious. There are other temptations toward the creation of an expository lump, but these are the most important ones.

     If you’ve ever encountered the fiction writer’s maxim “Show, don’t tell,” it’s advice that should immediately warn a storyteller away from such lumps. At the very least, he should be ready to recognize them when he rereads his own work. A number of indie writers I’ve encountered recently seem never to have heard that maxim. A pity.

     As a writer of fiction, your principal task is to engage the reader’s emotions and take him for a dramatic ride. No matter how charmed you might be by the factual details of the setting you’ve imagined, your reader will stay with you – if he does – because of the drama you depict. Drama is about emotion, and emotion stems from the changes in your characters’ lives. It can be found nowhere else.

     [Cross-posted at my fiction promotion site.]

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Day Off

     A host of chores looms before me: Buying a Christmas tree. Dragging the tree home. Getting it into the house. Mounting the tree in the living room. Hauling the Christmas tree decorations up from the basement. Stringing lights on the tree. Probing for dead bulbs and replacing them. Decorating the tree. Stringing garlands and such around the house. Hauling the containers from the Christmas decorations back down to the basement. Arguing with the C.S.O. about the placement of the adornments on the tree. Redecorating the tree. And so forth.

     Enjoy your Mauve Saturday, Gentle Readers, for I fear that I...shall not. I'll see you all tomorrow.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanks, With Spanks

     We here at the Fortress of Crankitude had a truly wonderful Thanksgiving, for which we are as grateful – especially given our current diets – as a Curmudgeon Emeritus and his Significant Other can be. No, the table didn’t groan under the “traditional” overload of dishes. There are only two of us now, so the C.S.O. no longer “goes to town” with the Thanksgiving repast, preferring to save at least a little refrigerator space for something other than leftovers. Also, how can you spend the whole day cooking when there’s so much football to watch?

     Now for a few assorted expressions of thanks, intermixed with occasional spanks for those who are likely to find coal in their Christmas stockings.

     Like all political commentators, I’m grateful that the Sturm und Drang over the elections is dying down. Oh, we still hear plenty about it from the broadcast commentators...those of us masochistic enough to tune in to them, that is. But the “demonstrations” and “protests” are winding down – cold weather puts a damper on pointless open-air activities – and the Democrats are adjusting to having no remaining bastion of power in the federal government. This isn’t an unmixed blessing, mind you; I’m sure that beneath the quiet there’s a lot of skullduggery-in-progress in both major parties. But at least those boils will take a while to form heads.

     I’m really grateful that the Clintons have, at long last, been reduced to marginal players in American politics. We’ve been coping with those two for twenty-four years, and frankly, enough was enough a long time ago. Neither of them is a viable candidate for high office any longer. Neither of them has anything constructive, or even moderately novel, to offer the nation from their new “positions.” So we can afford to ignore them until the Clinton Foundation and #Pizzagate indictments come down.

     And of course I’m grateful for the deer-in-the-headlights looks on the faces of all the major figures in the mainstream media. They’ve deserved a serious whuppin’ for decades – since the 1980 presidential campaign, at least – and now they’ve received it. Their attempts at self-exculpation are amusing to read and hear. Of course no one in their industry likes to admit to having been a hundred eighty degrees off course. Nevertheless, it’s a source of many chuckles among us on the Right to watch them casting about for someone else to blame.

     Enough of politics. A little gratitude for personal blessings follows.

     I’m grateful for the steady improvement in my health this past year. I entered 2016 in a great deal of pain, totally devoid of energy, and wondering if I’d make it to Independence Day. Yet here I am, reasonably sound in body and mind and chipperer than I’ve been for some years, looking forward to my sixty-fifth Christmas. The C.S.O. attributes it to the diminution of tension and strain since I’ve retired. She could be right.

     Am I grateful for the C.S.O.? Well, of course! (You can put the rolling pin down now, sweetie.)

     I’m especially grateful for new friends. In case it doesn’t come through in what I write, I’m a retiring, rather introverted sort. A natural isolate, really. But earlier this year a mood came upon me that I can’t quite capture in words: an unprecedented determination to make new connections and form new friendships. And lo! What followed is exactly that. Some are near, some are far; all are valued additions to my circle of love.

     I’m also grateful that I’ve mustered enough resolve not to view any of the electronic circulars that have arrived in my email. You see, I made a fair lump of electronics purchases in early November. I was satisfied that I got good prices – I’m no one’s negotiator, being far too eager to make others happy – but as Black Friday approached, I knew there would be markdowns, that they would be heavily advertised, and that they just might address a few of the products I’d been enjoying for the previous three weeks. So it was with considerable grinding of teeth that I deleted all those circulars without opening them, despite the appreciable probability that one or more things I still want would be featured therein.

     Finally, I’m grateful that Fidelity Investments hasn’t managed to lose all my money...yet.

     The provenance of a blessing can be hard to determine, even when it stares one in the face. There was a case just yesterday that remains on my mind for that reason, among others.

     It seems there’s a trend afoot among indie writers to solicit reviews of their books by emailing Amazon reviewers who’ve commented on broadly similar books. I’m not part of that trend; indeed, I wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial ten foot pole. However, as I do post a fair number of reviews at Amazon, I get a lot of solicitations from the abovementioned indie writers eager for reviews.

     As I said in the linked emission on the subject, my customary response has been “You do one of mine and I’ll do yours.” The usual reply to that suggestion has been dead silence. “So silence can, according to the circumstances, speak!” What it says is not complimentary to those who’ve bid for my time and attention.

     Most recently, one of those emailers agreed to the bargain. I rather wish he hadn’t, for when I picked up his book it proved to be genuinely awful. The fellow displayed absolutely no feel for storytelling, plainly misunderstood all the imperatives of narrative construction and the rules of character development, and had produced the most wooden dialogue committed to paper or pixels since the publication of the Canterbury Tales. So at about the one-third mark in his deathless tale I sent him an email that said “We have a lot to talk about,” and attached PDFs of my two nonfiction books on storytelling. That’s the whole of it.

     To shorten a long story somewhat, this gentleman replied in about the snippiest fashion you can imagine. Apparently he’s a retired journalist who’s received a number of awards and is rather proud of his writing skills. Of course he included a dismissive castigation of the book of mine he’d selected. (This one, if you care.) What sort of angry reply would it have been if he hadn’t denigrated my work?

     I could have become incensed. I could have replied in kind or worse. I didn’t. The Mass I’d just attended was far too joyous. Instead I replied that storytelling differs greatly from journalism, wished him the best of luck, and let it go.

     For this, I’m twice as grateful as I am for yesterday’s repast. Not only did I manage to restrain myself under provocation; I avoided the personal damage that a fit of anger has always inflicted upon me. However, that having been said, I’m certain none of the credit for restraint belongs to me personally.

     There are people who dismiss prayer and deny its power. I’ve heard it ridiculed as “a conversation with an imaginary friend.” This little vignette is just one of the reasons I don’t.

     One final spate of thanks and I’ll get back to the principal business of the day after Thanksgiving:

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for your patronage and support over the years.

     You’re not only the reason I do this; you’re the reason I can do this. I wish you all a blessed Christmas season and the happiest of New Years.

     (What’s that you say? What do I mean by “the principal business of the day after Thanksgiving?” Why, digesting, of course. What else?)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Errare Humanum Est Dept.

     From the “Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge” files:

Police shoot man with knife in the Bronx

     Wow! I mean, shooting him with a knife is impressive enough, but hitting him squarely in the Bronx, too? That even beats John Wilkes Booth shooting Lincoln in the temple. (And I’ll bet you didn’t even know Lincoln was Jewish!)

Ready Or Not?

     After I’ve assembled tidbits from the morning news in preparation for a tirade, I strive to find a unifying element to them. Today it was easier than usual.

     1. The Idiots Are Coming! The Idiots Are Coming!

     I think it was Einstein who said that the two most abundant substances in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. Nor was he incorrect:

     ‘TV ad showing people drumming a rhythm on baked bean cans banned on safety grounds. A Heinz television advert showing people drumming a rhythm on its baked bean cans has been banned by British regulators on safety grounds.

     The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that Heinz’s Can Song advert should not be broadcast again in its current form after nine people complained that the ad encouraged unsafe practices or could be dangerous for children to copy. Over 1.6 million people viewed a version of the ad on YouTube…’

     Great God in heaven! I fancy my powers as a storyteller, but I can only wish I were creative enough to make this stuff up!

     Are you ready to withstand the rising tide of idiocy, Gentle Reader?

     2. Trends In Self-Identification.

     Remember that white chick Rachel Dolezal, who "identifies as black?" Well, she might be on the leading edge of a trend:

     KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A metro mom feels helpless after police say her daughter was attacked at school. The mother said students are targeting her daughter because of her skin color.

     Police say a 12-year-old girl was punched in the face at school by another student Monday at the Frontier School of Excellence off 56th Street and Troost in Kansas City.

     Chandis Kee said this is the second time in two weeks her daughter was attacked, and she said it’s because of her race.

     “About two weeks ago she reported being called racial names,” the mom said.

     She said that’s about the time her 12-year-old daughter Blessyed was first attacked by two girls.

     The victim, Blessyed Kee is white. Please read the whole article. If it doesn’t horrify and enrage you, check your pulse: you may have died and not noticed.

     As the Negro population of this country swells and becomes more assertive, we can expect more such attacks – and not just on defenseless schoolchildren. Prepare as seems best to you.

     3. Priorities.

     Let’s imagine that you’re a hysterical left-liberal idiot (pardon the redundancy) who foresees a catastrophe and wants to prepare for it. What could be more important than having a vibrant, flexible economy that’s able to make things?

     Former NASA stars have been protesting for year at the dismal standards in NASA climate research. The same guys who walked on the moon, worked on the Apollo missions, and ran the shuttle program were fed up with NASA’s excellent brand name being exploited by junk scientists to do political promotions. Under Obama NASA was told to do three things -- inspire kids, help international relationships and help Muslim nations “feel good”. So much for space exploration and science.

     Obama slashed former President George W. Bush’s Constellation program, designed to take humans back to the moon and eventually to Mars, by leaking information to the press and threatening to veto the projects. NASA astronauts now rely on Russia to reach space, and NASA has been forced by the Obama administration to delay the Mars mission until 2030.

     That’s about to change.

     Joanne Nova, truly one of Australia’s brightest gems, also links to a New York Times interview with the president-elect:

     JAMES BENNET, editorial page editor: When you say an open mind, you mean you’re just not sure whether human activity causes climate change? Do you think human activity is or isn’t connected?

     TRUMP: I think right now … well, I think there is some connectivity. There is some, something. It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now.

     They’re really largely noncompetitive. About four weeks ago, I started adding a certain little sentence into a lot of my speeches, that we’ve lost 70,000 factories since W. Bush. 70,000. When I first looked at the number, I said: ‘That must be a typo. It can’t be 70, you can’t have 70,000, you wouldn’t think you have 70,000 factories here.’ And it wasn’t a typo, it’s right. We’ve lost 70,000 factories.

     Outstanding. Clearly we have more than one reason to be grateful for the presidential election results.

     4. A Really Serious Unreadiness.

     Space.Com is here to frighten you about it:

     The prospect of aliens visiting Earth has been percolating through human thought for decades, thanks to countless sci-fi books and movies, such as the newly released film "Arrival." But it's still not clear how we would deal with the real thing.

     Astronomers have drawn up a series of recommended actions to be taken after the detection of a signal from a faraway alien civilization, but it seems that no such effort has been made with regard to E.T.'s arrival here, said veteran alien hunter Seth Shostak.

     "I don't know of any protocol if they land," said Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California.

     "I've never heard of any such thing, and I'd be surprised if there was one," Shostak told "But who knows what's in the bowels of the Pentagon?"

     The U.S. military devises an incredible array of contingency plans — the Pentagon mapped out an invasion of Canada in the 1920s and '30s, after all, as part of a hypothetical war with the United Kingdom — so it is indeed possible that some kind of alien-fighting blueprint is locked away in a filing cabinet in Washington, D.C.

     However, if the new arrivals turn out to be hostile or predatory, even the most ingenious battle plan would almost certainly fail, Shostak said. Any extraterrestrial civilization capable of journeying from its own star system to Earth would be far more technologically advanced than humanity is, he noted.

     "It would be like taking on the Roman legions with the U.S. Air Force," Shostak said.

     When I showed this to the C.S.O., her immediate reaction was to run to her clothes closet. I asked what she was doing.

     “I have to make sure I have the right outfit for an alien invasion,” she said.

     Clearly, a woman’s wardrobe must be flexible.

     5. The Readiness That Matters Most.

     In one of his early books, Robert Ringer reminded us that no matter how long you live, it’s trivial compared to how long you’ll be dead. Quite a lot of people – call ‘em SJWs for brevity – want you to squander the brief candle of life on remorse for things you didn’t do and never will. Dystopic has penned a simple, beautiful refutation:

     SJWs prattle on about the sins of those that came before us. There was slavery, and genocide, and conquest, and rapine. The world is full of sin. Full of wrongs committed by one people against another, brother on brother, since the dawn of creation.

     You and I, dear reader, are not equipped to bear these crosses. The weight of them is too great. The scales of balance could never be righted. SJWs would try to make us bear them even so (note that they absolve themselves of the responsibility), but we cannot. I am incapable of righting all the wrongs I have committed personally. What makes these people believe that all the wrongs of history could be shouldered upon us?

     No, it is difficult enough to bear the weight of my own sins. Christ provides relief for us, a way to lay down those burdens. He did not ask us to bear the weight of the world. He took that upon himself.

     And that’s only a teaser. If The Declination isn’t part of your regular Web-reading cycle, you can’t imagine what you’ve been missing.

     6. For Thanksgiving Day.

     Please read this little piece. I wrote it some years ago, in an unanticipated fit of gratitude for something I wasted far too much of. I return to it each year, for I need the reminder quite as much as anyone.

     Thank You, God, for the gift of life, with all its tragedies, trials, and triumphs. For gratitude itself is among Your greatest gifts.

     Happy Thanksgiving Day. May God bless and keep you all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Prosecuting Hillary

     Michael Goodwin has penned a fiery piece about this:

     At first blush, Donald Trump’s decision to swear off criminal investigations of Hillary Clinton didn’t look like a good idea.

     At second blush, it looks like a terrible idea.

     The decision, dribbled out in a TV report and then confirmed by aide Kellyanne Conway, is too momentous to come in bits and pieces and from anyone other than Trump directly. He made the pledge at a debate to appoint a special prosecutor, and it smacks of Washington-as-usual for the reversal to slither out the back door.

     Yet instead of the president-elect personally explaining his big decision, the public got snippets of comments he made during an interview with The New York Times.

     “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” the paper quoted him as saying. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”

     Asked whether he had ruled out a prosecution, he reportedly said, “It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about.”

     I think I agree with Goodwin to this extent: for Trump to “dribble out” his decision, whether for or against a prosecution, is a bad idea, for it will be a decision with far-reaching effects. The indictment and trial of his recent adversary in the presidential contest would inevitably be characterized by numerous commentators as political, a bayoneting of the fallen enemy rather than an exercise of justice. To decline to indict would be characterized similarly: as the granting of a special, supra-legal status to a high member of the political elite. Either way, the tumult that will reverberate through our discourse will be great.

     As for the justice of it, there can be no question: what Hillary Clinton did while Secretary of State, entrusted with mountains of highly classified information of supreme sensitivity, would land any ordinary American in prison. Moreover, she compounded the felony by lying about it, both publicly and during her FBI interviews. If she gets away with it, then it will forever be unjust for anyone else to be penalized for it. That would include anyone currently serving a sentence for the violation of the security laws.

     But as Charles Krauthammer noted yesterday evening on Bret Baier’s Special Report, the president’s pardon power is an implicit recognition that sometimes, there are considerations of national well-being that in particular cases can transcend justice. A pardon granted to a convicted felon always contradicts a duly determined verdict of the justice system. Yet presidents pardon such felons frequently. They seldom do it out of a conviction that justice requires it.

     For Trump to decide against prosecuting Hillary – a de facto preemptive pardon for what was plainly an illegal arrangement – would be a decision in favor of considerations he places above justice: presumably, the healing of the many wounds inflicted upon national unity by an unprecedentedly hard fought, vitriolic campaign. The deviation a preemptive pardon represents from standard procedure is what troubles me most. The Justice Department has a rigorous procedure for screening pardon applications. One of the requirements for endorsing and forwarding an application to the White House is that the applicant has been indicted, tried, and convicted, and has served his full sentence.

     There have been deviations from this procedure. Perhaps the best known is Gerald Ford’s preemptive pardon of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for any crimes he may have committed related to the Watergate scandal. More recently, Bill Clinton issued a preemptive pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich. Not only had Rich not served any sentence; he had fled American jurisdiction upon being indicted. It’s been speculated that Clinton’s decision, like many others, was “influenced” by Rich’s buxom former wife Denise.

     Presidents must bear the burden of such decisions alone. No one else in the federal government has any say in the matter. Neither does anyone outside the federal government. That’s part of why it’s imperative that presidents be men of sound, sober judgment and unimpeachable moral character. Let’s hope our president-elect, whose flamboyance and occasional vulgarity are notable elements of his public persona, possesses those traits.

Free Trade Versus “Free Trade”

     The esteemed Joanne Nova discourses on this critical point:

     Just as carbon trading has nothing to do with a free market, so it is with monster free trade deals like the TPP. The free market meme won the intellectual debate of the 20th Century, but now its good name gets used and abused to sell the idea it defeated – bigger-government.

     A real free market deal has only one page and a bunch of signatures. But it takes a lot of pages to list all the unfree parts and to spell it out in sub-sub-clauses that hurt or help thousands of businesses around the world. Who gets the sweetest deal out of the complexity — the card carrying networkers — those who schmooze up to the right minister or bureaucrat. The people who compete on price or quality alone would win in a real free market, and so would we as customers. Instead the document rewards the gatekeepers, the rulemakers, the industry with the best lobbyists and the monied set who can donate enough to the right causes to get a better deal.

     Tipping the scales at 5,544 pages — and an astonishing 2,056,560 words — the trade agreement is one of the longest documents The Daily Caller has ever encountered. … The Bible: Authorized King James Version is 1,746 pages.

     If it were printed Breitbart estimates it would weigh 100 pounds.

     Concisely and perfectly stated. The pity of it is that Americans should need to learn this from an Australian. Well, at least she’s a brilliant Australian.

     Such a mountain of verbiage is a grand concealment mechanism for all the things that make for unfree trade: explicit provisions limiting this, forbidding that, and enabling an unbounded torrent of regulation according to what unelected bureaucrats deem “reasonable and proper.”

     Here’s a model for a true free trade agreement:

All laws that forbid, tax, limit or otherwise infringe upon trade between persons or organizations in the United States and persons or organizations in the nation of SomewhereElse are hereby repealed. All regulations founded upon any such law are nullified.

     But as Glenn Reynolds would say, that would offer insufficient opportunities for graft. So instead of free trade we have “free trade:” mammoth bills no Congressman or Senator has read that provide for essentially unlimited governmental interference in international trade, whether directly or by enabling subsequent regulation.

     In his classic work on management Up The Organization, Robert C. Townsend observes most pungently that complexity is the enemy of fairness. Complex rules are fertile ground for those adept at “playing the angles.” When the subject is legislation, complexity bestows an advantage on He Who Employs The Cleverest Lawyers. When complexity is combined with great volume, the winner will be the person or organization with the largest, best funded legal department – with a substantial discretionary fund for “entertainment,” of course – and woe betide anyone who seeks to compete with him.

     Keep that in mind as you review the fulminations of Establishmentarian figures and commentators who rail against Trump because he’s “against free trade.” And keep the overarching Townsendian observation in mind for when Congress is next asked to consider some gargantuan bill, hundreds or thousands of pages long, that purports to protect or promote freedom.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Dept.

     I thought I’d seen every sort of ugly, hateful, inherently vicious lunacy the Left could concoct...but then, it’s been a long time since I was last involved with a college or university:

     Student government leaders at Loyola University Maryland faced a barrage of pressure from the university administration to change the theme of a senior class party described as “very alienating, divisive and harmful” and against the university’s “core values,” according to emails provided to The Daily Caller. The theme? America.

     The theme for Loyola’s annual “Senior 200s” party — one of four celebrations exclusive to seniors held throughout the year — was based upon a survey of Loyola seniors taken last summer. The party was held on Nov. 18 and went off without a hitch, according to students who attended, despite warnings that the administration might have to get involved if students were offended....

     The day after Trump’s victory, a handful of students messaged SGA representatives to argue that — because of Trump’s victory — an America-themed party was now inappropriate. One female student claimed she was “a victim of horrible hate words” and worried that similar mean things might be said at the party if the theme wasn’t changed.

     When the possibility of unpleasant feelings wasn’t enough to cancel a class-wide event, the administration got involved.

     The university’s executive vice president, Susan Donovan sent an email to two SGA members claiming she “talked with a number of students and heard from faculty members” about the party. “None of it is positive and it sounds very alienating, divisive and harmful.”

     “I encourage you to reconsider this plan in light of the legitimate concerns raised by so many,” Donovan went on to say. “We have made progress in providing a welcoming climate on campus and do we want to reverse that progress with a theme that divides us?”...

     [Dean of Students Sheila] Horton also said the administration would have to “deal with” any fallout from the party, which she worried would make students feel “unsafe.”

     Is America a “theme that divides us?” Is America an “alienating, divisive, and harmful” idea? Is America, the country with the Statue of Liberty in its foremost harbor, calling to the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” an idea that makes us feel “unsafe?”

     Loyola University Maryland is a Catholic institution. Part of American Catholics’ annual contributions to our dioceses is put to the support of Catholic higher education. Do American Catholics consider America something that alienates, divides, or harms us? Does it make us feel “unsafe?”

     It’s become clear that there is no college or university in this country that hasn’t been colonized and conquered by the Left...and the Left doesn’t respect anything. Add this to Oleg Atbashian’s recent experiences at George Mason University, and ask yourself where you would send your bright high-school graduate.

A Painful Subject

     An amazing number of truly fascinating – or horrifying – stories are gaining traction just now. I could spend the whole day just enumerating them, but...well, I have other duties to which I must attend. However, one is of supreme importance and must not be ignored. It’s about the news media themselves.

     Just yesterday, our president-elect had a meeting with representatives of the major media organizations. Media luminaries aren’t terribly happy about that meeting, for reasons that should be obvious. Yet from what I’ve read about it, Trump was fully justified in castigating them as he did. Their “coverage” of his campaign set a new standard for partisan bias.

     However, the campaign is over and done, the Left’s fantasies about overturning the result notwithstanding. While there’s a certain satisfaction value for conservatives in Trump’s take-no-prisoners approach to the media, the larger problem remains unsolved. It might be insoluble.

     A large part of the Web is aflame over what’s being styled “PizzaGate:” the possible existence of a child-porn / pedophilia ring in which some of the most highly placed persons in American politics are allegedly participants. The origin of the story is in emails released by Wikileaks, whose senders and receivers include major Democrat Party luminary John Podesta.

     A Google search will turn up many, many stories and speculations about this set of allegations. The evidence is of several kinds. All of it is at least potentially disputable. Yet it exhibits a queasy consistency, both internally and with what’s known about child porn and pedophilia practices, jargon, and symbology. Certainly there’s substance enough for America’s major news media to mount an investigation in depth...but that’s not happening.

     Why would the barons of the media refrain from looking into a story this big – a story that could rock the political elite, possibly destroying the lives and careers of some of the biggest names in national politics? Well, one possibility is the involvement of some of those media barons, though at this point no media moguls’ names have been associated with PizzaGate. Another is that the political figures involved have somehow persuaded their allies in the media to ignore the story, or to dismiss it as nonsense. A third is that the media, aware of their interest in maintaining “good working relations” with the elite, have decided to ignore the story on their own.

     Whatever the reason, the major media are not covering this story.

     Despite the rise of alternative channels of information distribution, the major media retain a position of importance to the American who wants to be well informed. In many cases they no longer “break the story” – remember, the Clinton / Lewinsky scandal came to us via the National Enquirer – but we expect them to provide confirmations and refutations of stories broken by others. They have the staffs and the resources with which to “go deep” into matters which less resource-rich outlets can only skim.

     However, it’s become ever more obvious that they who direct the major media have an agenda that’s not congruent with journalism as it was once practiced: i.e., covering and reporting on events of interest and importance. Many commentators have chided the media for arrogating the privilege of deciding what we should and shouldn’t be told. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, alert to the press’s habit of favoring one major political party over the other, often refers to reporters as “Democrat operatives with bylines.” Web wit David “Iowahawk” Burge characterized contemporary journalism as “covering important stories. With a pillow. Until they stop moving.” The conviction that the media prefer promoting favored figures and causes to objective reporting is widespread.

     Yet a great many of us, perhaps an overwhelming majority, continue to want those confirmations and refutations. Our ears prick up at the announcements of the alternative media, but we don’t invest deeply in a story until the New York Times or the Washington Post should dig into it.

     The result is a fog of uncertainty that enshrouds some of the most consequential events of our time. What really happened? Must we trust the often nakedly partisan sources we find on the Internet? If the major media won’t involve themselves, whom are we to believe?

     Actually, it’s worse. Even when the major media do get involved, we’re left wondering. Are we getting the straight news, the facts, all the facts, and only the facts? Or have biased editorial staffs have decreed a particular slant, to protect some favored organization or friend?

     I seek to be well informed. I feel a personal need to know what’s going on and who’s involved. I suspect that I’m fairly representative of millions of others in wanting these things. I’ve long believed as long as I’m provided with the facts of the matter, I can puzzle out the causes for myself – and I suspect that millions of others feel the same.

     For decades we’ve trusted that the major media would gather those facts and present them to us, without fear or favor. That editors have their own preferences and prejudices, we’ve known all along. Nevertheless we’ve reposed our confidence in the front-line reporter, the workingman of journalism. We’ve chosen to believe that the ethic of objective reporting would prevail over the biases of the top media brass. Even when the major media have lagged behind the alternative organs in covering some story, we’ve expected that they’d catch up in time, and would eventually bring us a fuller, better contextualized, more trustworthy report than isolated citizen journalists can manage.

     And it looks as if we must disabuse ourselves of all of it.

     Where do we go from here?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Today’s Reminiscence Of Hillary Clinton

     I possess a very retentive memory. It has its drawbacks; I remember the bad stuff just as vividly as the good. But it also provides me with material for these tirades when I most need it.

     On May 23, 1993, with the inauguration of Bill Clinton only four months past, the New York Times ran a canonization piece on Hillary Clinton. Here are a few choice quotes about (and some from) the quondam First Lady, as they were immortalized in the Paper of Record:

     Driven by the increasingly common view that something is terribly awry with modern life, Mrs. Clinton is searching for not merely programmatic answers but for The Answer. Something in the Meaning of It All line, something that would inform everything from her imminent and all-encompassing health care proposal to ways in which the state might encourage parents not to let their children wander all hours of the night in shopping malls.

     When it is suggested that she sounds as though she's trying to come up with a sort of unified-field theory of life, she says, excitedly, "That's right, that's exactly right!"

     The point of all this is not abstract or small. What Mrs. Clinton seems -- in all apparent sincerity -- to have in mind is leading the way to something on the order of a Reformation: the remaking of the American way of politics, government, indeed life. A lot of people, contemplating such a task, might fall prey to self doubts. Mrs. Clinton does not blink.

     "It's not going to be easy," she says. "But we can't get scared away from it because it is an overwhelming task.'

     The Western world, she said, needed to be made anew. America suffered from a "sleeping sickness of the soul," a "sense that somehow economic growth and prosperity, political democracy and freedom are not enough -- that we lack at some core level meaning in our individual lives and meaning collectively, that sense that our lives are part of some greater effort, that we are connected to one another, that community means that we have a place where we belong no matter who we are."

     "What do our governmental institutions mean? What do our lives in today's world mean?" she asked. "What does it mean in today's world to pursue not only vocations, to be part of institutions, but to be human?"

     These questions, she said, led to the larger question: "Who will lead us out of this spiritual vacuum?" The answer to that was "all of us," all required "to play our part in redefining what our lives are and what they should be."

     Now, asked if she has always been impelled by what she called, in a recent interview with The Washington Post, "a burning desire" to "make the world . . . better for everybody," Mrs. Clinton says, with a slight, self-conscious laugh: "Yeah, I always have. I have not always known what it meant, but I have always had it."

     IT IS AT THIS POINT that some awkward questions arise:

     If it is necessary to remake society, why should Hillary Rodham Clinton get the job?

     Can someone who helped lead the very generation that threw out the old ways of moral absolutes and societal standards now lead the charge back to the future?

     Today, she asks "what do our governmental institutions mean? What do our lives in today's world mean?"

     At the heart of the Wellesley speech, she argued for what she then called the "experiment in human living" and would come to call "excessive individualism" and "rights without responsibility."

     The "prevailing, acquisitive and competitive corporate life," she said, "is not for us. We're searching for more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating mode of living."

     Yes, she really said those things, and the Times really said those things about her. The article was graced by a glowing white portrait photo of Mrs. Clinton which appeared on the cover of the Times Magazine. Its title, whether meant seriously or tongue-in-cheek, was “Saint Hillary.”

     Whereupon I must cite an old wisdom, well known among Catholics:

Every saint has a past.
Every sinner has a future.

     Perhaps Mrs. Clinton will make a constructive, non-political use of her future. At any rate, we can hope.


     I have only a few scattered observations for today. The weekend was strenuous, and I need the day to recover.

     1. “They won’t hear us.”

     Every major figure on the Left, from Barack Hussein Obama on down, has promulgated the notion that the Democrats have lost federal power because of messaging problems. At an earlier period in the Obama Interregnum, The Won put the responsibility on his side: i.e., he said Democrats had done an inadequate job of explaining their policy positions. Today, he and his fellow travelers are trying to lay the onus on us: specifically, that we’ve refused to give the Democrats a fair hearing, and therefore that their policies haven’t had a fair chance to prove themselves.

     I suppose it’s consistent with their shared mindset. After all, if the problem was their inadequate communication, it would follow that they’d worked to improve it since then. But if we grant that assumption but their “message” is still being scorned, there are only two possibilities: we’ve refused to listen, or we have listened and have deemed their ideas bad for the country. And how could our moral and intellectual superiors be so completely mistaken?

     2. The attacks on

     The new alternative to increasingly left-wing and intolerant Twitter,, is exploding in popularity. The administrators are straining to keep up with the volume of applications for membership. Gab’s servers are groaning a bit, too. And the existing members -- I’m one -- are simply loving it as Twitter continues it’s auto-da-fe.

     So of course, the Left has rallied its forces and mounted a furious attack on Gab and its organizers. Here’s a smidgen of news from Gab principal Andrew Torba:

     It’s become quite obvious that the Left doesn’t just want “its own” space, cleansed of differing opinions; it ardently wants to deny the Right any medium in which we can cluster, find one another, and communicate freely.

     I’ve said it before: the three pillars of freedom are education, communications, and weaponry. We have weaponry, but the educational system is firmly against us...and if the Left has its way, we’ll be denied the power to communicate as well.

     Fight back while you can. And join Gab!

3. Election results, county by county.

     The following map of results provides a great deal of food for thought:

     Now, just as it’s obvious that the majorities for Trump were well distributed over the nation, it’s equally obvious that the majorities for Clinton occurred primarily in America’s perimeter cities. I’ve remarked on this before. The import of the story is that the coasts are steadily separating themselves politically from the rest of America. This is consistent with the dominance of the coastal megalopoli over education, journalism, and entertainment.

     In the previous segment, I mentioned that the Left is doing everything it can to slander and degrade, which up to this point has been a welcoming place for persons of all political convictions. The Left has campaigned for absolute dominance of social media. That’s an implicit recognition of the Internet’s critical role in allowing persons of like convictions to find one another. Though the Reagan Administration predated large scale digital communications, the blossoming of conservative opinion that followed owes a great deal to the Internet and World Wide Web. It allowed us on the Right to confirm our intuition that we’re not alone – and certainly not crazy, stupid, or evil.

     Gab is an excellent development, but one social medium firmly dedicated to freedom of expression is not enough. We need more. Perhaps a free-speech alternative to Facebook will be next. Though I’m retired from software as a paying trade, I’d enthusiastically participate in the development of additional avenues of communication, on the condition that they pledge never, ever to censor their clients.

     The original opening of the Internet to general use was a time of high excitement, propelled by the many possibilities the Net offers for everything from commerce to gossip to academic research. Perhaps we’ll see a resurgence of that excitement in the near future.

Pearls of expression.

By refusing mass immigration, China is set to remain an economic backwater, just like Japan and S. Korea. Everyone knows that negrification and Islamization are the royal road to riches and domestic tranquillity. Oh well, let the fools remain mired in their ignorance then.

There will be some 3-4 billion sub-Saharan Africans by century’s end. China’s racial isolationism means they won’t be able to dip even a toe into that talent pool. Hah, their loss is our gain!

Comment by silviosilver on "Other People’s Nationalism: China." By John Derbyshire, The Unz Review, 11/20/16.

Zebra Killings.

Not only did the Zebra killings represent the greatest instance of racially-motivated killings in modern American history, but the number of victims was quite possibly greater than the combined total for all other such examples over nearly the last 100 years of our history. Based on that reality, the near-absolute media blackout has been quite remarkably Orwellian and deeply disturbing.[1]
Ron Unz writes a thoughtful article on the Zebra killings but the main thrust of his article is the degree to which the American media practices – and has practiced – a pattern of deception. Famous cases that have been the subject of much media hysteria have proved to be exactly the opposite of how the media portrayed them. Plus, horrific crimes are deliberately downplayed by the MSM and vital information about those and lesser crimes are deliberately omitted by the MSM:
In fact, the evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of all racially-motivated violent attacks in America each year are committed by blacks, usually against whites, though sometimes against Asians or Hispanics. But these attacks are almost always ignored by the media, while the newscasters and politicians seem almost desperate to shine a spotlight on any that occur in the opposite direction, even if they are almost nowhere to be found. Indeed, a few years ago I pointed out that for decades the statistical correlation across all our urban centers between the prevalence of blacks and the prevalence of serious crime has been among the highest found anywhere in the social sciences, strongly suggesting that marginal urban crime is essentially a black phenomenon. But individuals who form their view of the world primarily from our mainstream media would probably remain unaware of these important facts.[2]
Unz's article is an excellent piece on the significance of the media's abdication.

[1] "American Pravda: The KKK and Mass Racial Killings." By Ron Unz, The Unz Review, 9/19/16. (Omitted from Unz's examples cited is the horrific Channon Christian and Christian Newsom murders in Knoxville. Their murders are part and parcel of what he describes.)
[2] Id.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

For The Feast Of Christ The King

     [Today is the Feast of Christ The King, which falls on the last Sunday before Advent. It’s a unique holy day for several reasons, and one that I find particularly personally significant. It first appeared at Eternity Road on January 6, 2008. I find that I cannot improve upon it, for which reason I've made a habit of reviving it each year on this special day. -- FWP]


     Let's talk about...Zoroastrianism!



     The ancient creed called Zoroastrianism predated the birth of Christ by about a millennium. Its founder, Zoroaster, laid down a small set of doctrines:

  • There is one universal and transcendental God, Ahura Mazda, the one uncreated creator and to whom all worship is ultimately directed.
  • Ahura Mazda's creation — evident as asha, truth and order — is the antithesis of chaos, evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict.
  • Active participation in life through good thoughts, good words and good deeds is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep the chaos at bay. This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster's concept of free will, and Zoroastrianism rejects all forms of monasticism.
  • Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail, at which point the universe will undergo a cosmic renovation and time will end. In the final renovation, all of creation — even the souls of the dead that were initially banished to "darkness" — will be reunited in Ahura Mazda.
  • In Zoroastrian tradition, the malevolent is represented by Angra Mainyu, the "Destructive Principle", while the benevolent is represented through Ahura Mazda's Spenta Mainyu, the instrument or "Bounteous Principle" of the act of creation. It is through Spenta Mainyu that Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind, and through which the Creator interacts with the world. According to Zoroastrian cosmology, in articulating the Ahuna Vairya formula, Ahura Mazda made His ultimate triumph evident to Angra Mainyu.
  • As expressions and aspects of Creation, Ahura Mazda emanated seven "sparks", the Amesha Spentas, "Bounteous Immortals" that are each the hypostasis and representative of one aspect of that Creation. These Amesha Spenta are in turn assisted by a league of lesser principles, the Yazatas, each "Worthy of Worship" and each again a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation.

     I find nothing objectionable in the above, except that only God, by whatever name He might be known, is worthy of worship; the most a lesser being is entitled to is veneration. But the word "worship" has had many meanings and subtleties over the years, so I'm inclined to let it pass. More important than Zoroastrianism's harmless mythos is its ethos, which Zoroaster himself encapsulated in a unique and memorable command:


Speak truth and shoot the arrow straight.

     Unlike the overwhelming majority of other pre-Christian creeds, Zoroastrianism was -- and is -- rational, humane, and life-loving rather than life-denying. It emphasized human free will, moral choice, and the need to defend truth and order against lies and chaos. These attributes made it the dominant religion of classical Persia and environs, though Zoroastrians' numbers are far reduced today.

     (No, I haven't converted to Zoroastrianism. You can all relax.)

     In the Western world, the Zoroastrians were the first practitioners of the pseudo-science we call astrology. They reposed a fair amount of confidence in it, for the creed had had its own prophets, beginning with Zoroaster himself, and among the prophecies were several tied to events foretold to happen in the night sky. The Zoroastrians therefore took great interest in the stars, and made careful records of occurrences therein, for comparison to the utterances of their prophets.

     One of those prophecies involved the birth of God in mortal flesh.

     The Magi of the Incarnation story were three esteemed nobles of Persia, wealthy in gold, wisdom, and the admiration of their societies. In contrast to the pattern prevalent among the nobilities of later times, these three, whose names have come down to us as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, were deeply religious men whose involvement in the investigation of the Zoroastrian prophecies was sincere. When they spied the famous "star in the east" -- quite possibly a nova in Draco now known to have occurred at about that time -- they resolved to follow its trail, to find the divine infant and pay him homage.

     I shan't retell the whole of the story. It's accessible to anyone reading this site, in both secular and liturgical versions. The most salient aspect of the story is that these three exalted nobles -- kings, in the most common accounts -- of a faraway land came to pay homage and present tokens of vassalage to a newborn infant.

     Of course! What else would be appropriate, before a King of Kings?



     I will pause here to draw an important distinction: "King of Kings" is not the same as "Emperor." "Emperor" is a title appropriate only to a conqueror; that's more or less what it means. Atop that, an emperor is not necessarily concerned with justice, whereas a king, of whatever altitude, is obliged to make it the center of his life:

     The saber gleamed in the muted light. I'd spent a lot of time and effort sharpening and polishing it.

     It was a plain weapon, not one you'd expect to see in the hand of a king. There was only the barest tracing on the faintly curved blade. The guard bell was a plain steel basket, without ornamentation. The hilt was a seven inch length of oak, darkened with age but firm to the touch. There was only a hint of a pommel, a slight swell of the hilt at its very end.

     "What is this?"

     "A sword. Your sword."

     A hint of alarm compressed his eyes. "What do you expect me to do with it?"

     I shrugged. "Whatever you think appropriate. But a king should have a sword. By the way," I said, "it was first worn by Louis the Ninth of France when he was the Dauphin, though he set it aside for a useless jeweled monstrosity when he ascended the throne."

     Time braked to a stop as confusion spun his thoughts.

     "I don't know how to use it," he murmured.

     "Easily fixed. I do."

     "But why, Malcolm?"

     I stepped back, turned a little away from those pleading eyes.

     "Like it or not, you're a king. You don't know what that means yet. You haven't a sense for the scope of it. But you must learn. Your life, and the lives of many others, will turn on how well you learn it." I paused and gathered my forces. "What is a king, Louis?"

     He stood there with the sword dangling from his hand. "A ruler. A leader. A warlord."

     "More. All of that, but more. The sword is an ancient symbol for justice. Back when the function of nobility was better understood, a king never sat his throne without his sword to hand. If he was to treat with the envoy of another king, it would be at his side. If he was to dispense justice, it would be across his knees. Why do you suppose that was, Louis?"

     He stood silent for a few seconds.

     "Symbolic of the force at his command, I guess."

     I shook my head gently.

     "Not just symbolic. A true king, whose throne belonged to him by more than the right of inheritance, led his own troops and slew malefactors by his own hand. The sword was a reminder of the privilege of wielding force, but it was there to be used as well."

     His hands clenched and unclenched in time to his thoughts. I knew what they had to be.

     "The age of kings is far behind us, Malcolm."

     "It never ended. Men worthy of the role became too few to maintain the institution."

     "And I'm...worthy?"

     If he wasn't, then no worthy man had ever lived, but I couldn't tell him that.

     "There's a gulf running through the world, Louis. On one side are the commoners, the little men who bear tools, tend their gardens, and keep the world running. On the other are the nobles, who see far and dare much, and sometimes risk all they have, that the realm be preserved and the commoner continue undisturbed in his portion. There's no shortage of either, except for the highest of the nobles, the men of unbreakable will and moral vision, for whom justice is a commitment deeper than life itself."

     His face had begun to twitch. He'd heard all he could stand to hear, and perhaps more. I decided to cap the pressure.

     "Kings have refused their crowns many times, Louis. You might do as much, though it would sadden me to see it. But you could break that sword over your knee, change your name, and run ten thousand miles to hide where no one could know you, and it wouldn't lessen what you are and were born to be." I gestured at the sword. "Keep it near you."

     [From Chosen One.]

     Note further: a mortal king cannot and does not define justice; he dispenses justice, according to principles drawn from a higher authority. The King of Kings, from whom the privilege and obligation to mete justice flows, is the definer. In the matter of Law, all lesser kings are His vassals.

     The Magi conceded this explicitly with their gift of gold.



     The pre-Christian era knew few, if any, rulers who claimed their jurisdiction solely on basis of might. Nearly all were approved and anointed by a priesthood. In that anointment lay their claim to be dispensers of true justice, for God would not allow a mortal to mete justice that departs from His Law. Let's leave aside the divergence between theory and practice for the moment; it was the logical connection between Divine Law and human-modulated justice that mattered to the people of those times.

     But the King of Kings would need no clerical approval. Indeed, He would be the Priest of Priests: the Authority lesser priests would invoke in anointing lesser kings.

     The Magi conceded this explicitly with their gift of frankincense.



     We of the Twenty-First Century are largely unaware of the obligations which lay upon the kings of old. They were not, until the waning years of monarchy, sedentary creatures whose lives were a round of indulgences and propitiations. They were expected not merely to judge and pass sentence, but also to lead the armies of the realm when war was upon it. The king was expected to put himself at risk before any of his subjects. Among the reasons was this one: the loss of the king in battle was traditionally grounds for surrender, after which the enemy was forbidden by age-old custom to strike further blows.

     The king, in this conception, was both the leader of his legions and a sacrifice for the safety of his subjects, should the need arise. He was expected to embrace the role wholeheartedly, and to lead from the front in full recognition of the worst of the possibilities. Not to do so was an admission that he was unfit for his throne:

     "We have talked," he said, "about all the strategies known to man for dealing with an armed enemy. We have talked about every aspect of deadly conflict. Every moment of every discussion we've had to date has been backlit by the consciousness of objectives and costs: attaining the one and constraining the other. And one of the first things we talked about was the importance of insuring that you don't overpay for what you seek."

     She kept silent and listened.

     "What if you can't, Christine? What if your objective can't be bought at an acceptable price?"

     She pressed her lips together, then said, "You abandon it."

     He smirked. "It's hard even to say it, I know. But reality is sometimes insensitive to a general's desires. On those occasions, you must learn how to walk away. And that, my dear, is an art form of its own."

     He straightened up. "Combat occurs within an envelope of conditions. A general doesn't control all those conditions. If he did, he'd never have to fight. Sometimes, those conditions are so stiff that he's compelled to fight whether he thinks it wise, or not."

     "What conditions can do that to you?"

     His mouth quirked. "Yes, what conditions indeed?"

     Oops. Here we go again. "Weather could do it."


     "By cutting off your lines of retreat in the face of an invasion."

     "Good. Another."

     "Economics. Once the economy of your country's been militarized, it runs at a net loss, so you might be forced to fight from an inferior position because you're running out of resources."

     "Excellent. One more."

     She thought hard. "Superior generalship on the other side?"

     He clucked in disapproval. "Does the opponent ever want you to fight?"

     "No, sorry. Let me think."

     He waited.

     Conditions. Conditions you can't control. Conditions that...control you.

     "Politics. The political leadership won't accept retreat or surrender until you've been so badly mangled that it's obvious even to an idiot."

     The man Louis Redmond had named the greatest warrior in history began to shudder. It took him some time to quell.

     "It's the general's worst nightmare," he whispered. "Kings used to lead their own armies. They used to lead the cavalry's charge. For a king to send an army to war and remain behind to warm his throne was simply not done. Those that tried it lost their thrones, and some lost their heads -- to their own people. It was a useful check on political and military rashness.

     "It hasn't been that way for a long time. Today armies go into the field exclusively at the orders of politicians who remain at home. And politicians are bred to believe that reality is entirely plastic to their wills."

     [From On Broken Wings.]

     But the King of Kings, intrinsically above all other authorities, would obviously be aware of this obligation. More, His sacrifice of Himself must perforce be for the salvation of the whole of the world -- indeed, the whole of the universe and every sentient creature in it. Nothing less could possibly justify it.

     The Magi conceded this explicitly with their gift of myrrh.



     On the first Sunday after the New Year, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, called the Theophany by some eastern Christian sects, when the Magi prostrated themselves before the Christ Child and made their gifts of vassalage to him. A vassal is a noble sworn to fealty to a higher authority: a higher-ranking noble or a king. The obligations of the vassal are to enforce justice as promulgated by the vassal's liege, and to support and defend the liege's realm by force of arms as required. To the King of Kings, God made flesh in the miracle of the Incarnation, every temporal authority is properly a vassal, obliged to mete justice in accordance with the natural law and to defend the Liege's realm -- men of good will, wherever they may be -- against all enemies, whenever the need might arise. To do less is to be unworthy of a temporal throne, palace, official office, or seat in a be unworthy of Him.

     He took on the burdens of the flesh to confirm God's love for Man and to open the gates of salvation. He went to Calvary in testament to the authenticity of His Authority. The Magi knew, and in their pledge of fealty to Him, made plain that He had come not merely to succor Israel, but for the liberation of all Mankind.

     May God bless and keep you all.